When You Have Time to Gripe

January 25, 2012

I was 16 and it was my third “real” job – working at McDonald’s.

It’s been, well, a lot of years, but the lessons learned on that job still stick.  During my McDonald’s training, I was bombarded with sayings that not only gave direction to the work level that was expected of me, but which transferred the organization’s culture:  “When you have time to gripe, you have time to wipe.” “When you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”

There’s a prevalent school of thought that professionals — physicians for our purposes — can’t be managed and indoctrinated culturally in the same manner as 16 year old hamburger flippers.  Why not?  Especially when the future success of your practice may depend on it.

Yes, I acknowledge that there’s an expectation of independent professional judgment on the part of physician employees and subcontractors that’s not encouraged by McDonald’s (which, for some reason frowns upon Sally whipping up a five patty Bigger Mac).  And, I’m not suggesting that you engineer out professional discretion.

What I am suggesting is that on another level, the level of how all physicians in the group present themselves to, and comport themselves with, referring physicians, other medical staff colleagues, hospital administrators and so on, makes an incredible difference in how your group is perceived.

The real benefit of that professionalism (or the abhorrent lack thereof) is that it creates valuable experiences that serve as a part of a larger strategy of providing an Experience Monopoly™.

In turn, that Experience Monopoly goes a long way to cementing your group’s relationships which is money in the bank.

The process requires a global approach: it’s not just being clear on expectations, it’s teaching by example, it’s stimulating performance through tie ins to the physicians’ employment agreements, subcontracts and even the group’s partnership agreement or shareholders agreement, it’s regular reviews and mentoring, and it’s more.

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