The Most Important Person On Your Healthcare Team

Healthcare managers“Either your employees are incompetent or they’re poorly trained. Whichever is true, that’s your fault.”

–Comment I heard a disgruntled customer make to a site manager, November 2013.

In healthcare we like to proclaim that patients and families are the most important people in our business. While it’s true they are the reason we exist and should always be the primary focus of our effort and attention, they are, in fact, not the most important people in our business.

That title belongs to managers.

Think of all the elements of a healthcare system that managers touch. They oversee the day-to-day processes of a site and the duties of team members. It’s their job to assemble, train, and supervise employees. They serve as a point of contact between all players including physicians, administrators, front-line personnel, and patients. On any given day they attend to aspects of patient satisfaction, service delivery, wait times, communication, employee engagement, patient-flow, scheduling, safety regulations and reporting, patient complaints, and workplace culture. While they must possess operational and clinical knowledge they must also bring interpersonal and performance management skills to the table. They need to be proficient in negotiation, communication, motivation, mediation and prioritization.

Make no mistake: we don’t get to serve patients without capable managers.

When managers are unprepared or ineffective, every element of the patient experience suffers. If discord exists in a team, there is an impact on patients. If the schedule is understaffed or overbooked, there is an impact on patients. If the workload is unbalanced, if ongoing training and support of the staff is lacking, or if communication is poor then staff performance suffers, talent isn’t retained, and there is an impact on patients.

In recent months I’ve worked to find a way to succinctly describe what I do for a living and why it’s important. Here’s what I’ve come up with to date: People leave when the boss isn’t great. Patients leave when the team isn’t great. In healthcare the shortest path to patient satisfaction, higher productivity, and lower turnover is a manager on site that knows how to get their team firing on all cylinders. When that person is present, people not only stay…they thrive.

Front-line managers are the lifeblood of any healthcare organization. When hiring managers select the right person for this role, and when the organization continually invests in their onboarding, training, and development, they reap organizational, cultural, and financial rewards across the enterprise.

Most importantly though, these organizations are able to continue making patients and families their number one priority, each and every day.

Now it’s your turn! What do you think? Are managers that key? What other elements do managers influence? Share your feedback and thanks for stopping by! ~Joe

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