The importance of being a good Supervisor or Manager?


Managerial effectiveness is a crucial element in the running of any Practice. But being a “good” manager is not just about hitting targets and working for the company – it is all about managing your staff in the most proactive way you can. Leadership is the only way forward. Here are some points that are vital to a Manager to help manage a good and happy team.

I will use the term “Manager” in this blog but this is also for anyone in a supervisory
role – being a Supervisor you are in a responsible role and lead a team and this is just as important as a managerial role.

LEADERSHIP

In every organisation there is a definite need for leadership. Whether it is a Team Leader, Supervisor or Manager they are vital to the practice. You will need to be goal orientated, self-motivated and possess boundless energy and have to learn how to exert influence effectively in all directions – upwards, downwards and sideways. You will need to show strong leadership both to your bosses and the staff.

You will need to earn respect from your staff and your Partners – and that comes with
time. You need to be seen to be fair, treating everyone with respect and not show any signs of favouritism.

Strict neutrality is also necessary in your dealings with staff. It is hard to maintain a strictly unbiased approach if you are particularly friendly with one or more members of staff.

The role of a Manager can sometimes be very lonely.

TEAM BUILDING

Team building is vital for the whole practice.

Communication plays a big part in Team Building. Get to know your team where possible as individuals. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and their hopes. These will help when it comes to yearly appraisals. By knowing your staff and their bilities you are able to place them in the job best suited to them. You might have someone who has great people skills – they will be ideal to put on the front desk, and someone who has great computer skills yet not so good on people skills, they would be great at carrying out admin and computer work. By placing these people in these roles make for happier staff – they are doing something they enjoy  rather than just doing a job given to them.

You need all types of staff to have a team. Someone that is has a great telephone manner, someone who has great people skills and someone who has great organisational skills – use them to the best of their ability.

Team Building is such a important part of your job.

MOTIVATING STAFF

Motivating staff is an essential part of any manger’s work. Most staff seeks not only an
interesting job but usually like to feel that what they are doing is worthwhile and that they have job security. They need to be able to respect their boss(es) and have the respect back. Offer staff opportunities – training, learning new skills, and promotion wherever possible.

Staff are more likely to be motivated if they receive recognition and praise when it is deserved. This can be given to individual members of the team or to the team as a whole.

If you are praising an individual do not do it in front of the other members of the team. Call them to your office and give the praise – if the praise is to the whole team give this at a team meeting – and ensure that staff that are not at the meeting receive the praise. You could verbally give the praise followed up by a memo to all concerned.

Staff will work better if the management of the practice is not only consistent by also seen to be fair.

STAFF MEETINGS

Finding time to have staff meetings is never easy. Especially in Practice as many of the
staff are part-time workers and therefore you never having everyone there at the same time.

Some practices have staff meetings in the evenings; some have “breakfast” meetings before the surgery opens. Others have staff meetings during the lunch break. One thing is for sure if you have a big team of receptionists you will never have everyone attend the meeting. Look at the best times that staff can attend. Send out a memo asking them what they would prefer. Try to rotate the meetings every time so everyone gets a fair change of attending the next one.

But the important thing is to keep staff informed if they are unable to attend. For me the best way was to have each and every meeting has minutes taken and copies sent out to all staff – those that were present and those that could not attend also copy in your manager and the staff Partner. Always keep a copy of every meeting on file for future reference.

It is important to give staff plenty of notice when the next meeting is going to take place. A good suggestion is to agree the next date at the meeting you are holding. This way you can add it to the minutes.

If you have a lunchtime meeting a good idea is to provide lunch – perhaps a nice kind rep would be happy to help.

As a Practice you will have to decide if overtime is going to be paid and at what rate.

Let all staff have an opportunity of adding items to the agenda.

In my experience most staff are happy to attend meetings if they can see the point of it and a positive outcome with direction action being taken if appropriate.

If you learn to hold successful meetings, you should be guaranteed a good attendance.

STAFF TRAINING

Staff training is vital – it is essential for every Practice to be able to move forward. Well
trained staff are confident staff.

Invest in good training. It does not always have to cost a fortune. There are several options that you can take when it comes to staff training. You can either send individual staff on training courses outside the practice – your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) usually run excellent courses and many of these are free.

You can attend courses and then bring them back to the and train staff.

You can have an outside organisation come into the Practice and train several staff at the same time – this can be some similar to a staff meeting when it can be done during a lunchtime. Again Reps are often able to help in the cost of training.

Ensure that you log all training that staff has been on – keep a training log of their individual training skills in their staff files.

Staff Appraisals

Appraisals are a two-way process. If you need to explain to staff that one of the reasons
why you wish to hold individual appraisals is because you wish to learn from them, how they feel about their particular job and their role in the practice, this should ensure that they begin to feel less apprehensive about the whole process.

For some reason staff always see appraisals as a negative thing. Try to change that.

The appraisal interview should provide a forum for feedback from the employee as well as a chance for the manager to praise past efforts and offer constructive criticism on ways in which improvements can take place. Training needs can be identified and methods of monitoring development can be set up.

It is important that you listen to their views and recommendations and, where possible implement changes that they have suggested. But do not make promises that you will not be able to keep.

And most important

COMMUNICATION

Communication is vital. Staff needs to be kept informed in anything that might involve them. Lack of communication is a good way to start rumours and bad feelings amongst staff. Keep your staff informed of necessary changes within their jobs or within the Practice.

Talk to your staff, feedback when and where possible – staff meetings are good for this as
are memo’s and talking to staff wherever possible.

And remember – there is no “I” in TEAM

                                     

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How To Avoid Workplace Anger/Violence (part 2)


Are Patients Waiting Too Long?

Research has shown that long waiting times can lead to angry/violent behaviour. So keep your patients informed, give a reason for the delay and apologise when necessary – please do not ignore the waiting patients (see blog: When The Doctor/Nurse is running late. http://t.co/Tlnpi4OD )

Does Your Patients Feel They Have A Method Of Complaint?

Provide a well-advertised complaints procedure in your Practice Leaflet. Quite often a Receptionist can deal with a complaint before it goes to Management level.

Always offer the patient a complaints form. Ensure that all your Reception team knows where the complaints forms are kept. No complaint should go to the Practice Manager without being offered a complaints form first.

Most people when offered a complaints form will decline, and even when they do except a complaints form will probably not return the completed form. But it is important that they have that choice to make.

Are You Or Your Staff Helpful and Courteous?

An abrupt or indifferent receptionist and lack of information can often lead to frayed tempers.

Do You Think Your Receptionist Makes Things Worse?

First rule; do not get yourself into an argument. An argument may cause anger to escalate into aggression and perhaps violence. Have you as a team discussed ways to prevent or defuse such situations? Ensure that all staff have clear guidelines – this will help them deal with such a situation.

Is the Waiting Room a Calm and Comfortable Place?

Consider ways of reducing boredom, up to date magazines. Toys for the in the play area. Posters and Notices on the wall. Plenty of seating. Make it comfortable.

A local A&E Department recently spent a large amount of money re designing and updating their A&E Department and found that this reduced the vandalism by a considerable amount. Both patients and staff found it a more relaxing environment to be in.

Can Your Staff Recognise The Warning Signs?

Staff need to be aware of this at all times. If dealing with a patient who is known to be hostile, make sure you are in a position to summon help or make an escape if necessary. Bring it to the attention of others if necessary.

Does your Practice have panic buttons? Ensure that all Locums and new staff are aware of where they are situated.

Are You Aware Of Stranger Danger?

Be extra cautious if an unknown temporary resident is fitted in at the end of surgery. Warn the doctor/nurse that the last patient is a temporary patient. It has been known that a few patients are looking for drugs will book a late appointment and not complete the temporary residents form out correctly which means that the Practice has no relevant information on the patient. This is not to say that every temporary resident is like this – but there are the odd few out there.

Is Information Shared?

Everyone working in the practice needs to know which patients might pose a risk. This will apply to doctors working at another surgery for the out of hours. Especially inform all other surgeries if you have a temporary resident causing any problems. If you have a violent patient you should inform your local PCT/Health Authority.

Can The Waiting Room Be Seen and Controlled By the Receptionist?

Try to ensure that there are no nooks and crannies where people are sitting out of sight. If someone is getting agitated or poorly the Receptionist should be able to notice the signs and deal with it appropriately.

Are You Providing Weapons?

Do you equip your surgery and waiting room with items that can easily be used as weapons or missiles?

  • Paper opener
  • China Cups
  • Heavy objects such as stapler, paperweights
  • Metal toys in the children’s area
  • Sharp objects

Always ensure that potential items are out of reach.

What Should You Do If the Patient Becomes Aggressive?

  • KEEP CALM
  • Avoid direct confrontation and try to defuse the situation. Listen and show you are listening to their point of view – do not argue.

Can You Defend Yourself?

  • Avoid physical contact.
  • Call on others for support
  • Quite often if there is more than one person in front of the aggressive person they will calm down a lot quicker. If you hear a patient getting aggressive at the front desk, just go over to the receptionist dealing with the patient and just stand and observe, do not say anything, often this is enough to calm the person down.
  • If the Receptionist cannot deal with the situation then you might need to step in and take over.

People who are most effective in dealing with aggression understand something about the psychology of people. They understand why make people tick and recognise that human beings have basic animal instincts, which often come to the fore when they feel threatened or feel frightened or angry.

The options that our animal instincts provide are either FLIGHT or FIGHT.

Many things may affect which option we choose but some things which will increase the likelihood of choosing FIGHT are:

  • Feeling our personal space is being invaded
  • Feel physically threatened
  • Feel that our exit path is blocked.

One of the most effective ways of diffusing this natural response is to deliberately signal that you are not going to respond in an aggressive way. This may not be easy when you are probably feeling threatened yourself, but the following actions will help to signal non-aggression to others.

Give the other person space – If you increase the distance between you and the aggressor it will lessen the feeling that their personal space is being invaded and reduce the feeling of physical threat and open up their exit path. It also gives you a greater range of options should the situation suddenly change.

Relax your own posture – you can reduce your own aggressive signs by dropping your shoulders, adopting an open stance and allowing your arms to drop. Such action will probably feel unnatural given the situation but it will quickly reduce the aggressor’s feeling of being intimidated.

Avoid sudden movements – remember that heightened emotion will make an individual jumpy and ready to defend, and that quick or sudden movement might trigger an instinctive reaction.

Reduce eye contact – Sustained eye contact is a very aggressive signal in these types of encounters. You should avoid gazing intently into the aggressor’s eyes.

The above four behaviours will reduce the potential for aggressive situations to turn into violent confrontation. However, they do not, on their own, resolve the encounters successfully. Successfully resolution can be achieved by:

  • CALMING the individual and then building
  • RAPPORT with him/her to finally achieve
  • CONTROL over the situation

This sequence is very specific. Successful control of a situation cannot be achieved by trying to achieve rapport with a person who is still very wound up by the incident itself. You must calm the person down before he or she will be receptive to your attempts to build a rapport.

CALMING

A common mistake, which is made at this stage, is trying to deal with the reason why the person is being aggressive. In fact you should try to deal with the emotions that the person is bringing into the situation. Trying to deal with the reasons why before you calm the emotions will only service to increase the tensions and set off an escalation of the incident.

It is vital that you as the person seeking to control the situation are fully in control of your own emotions and reactions. This is not easy because you are not immune to the situation and you may be feeling fear, excitement or anger. But your ability to control your own emotions, particularly your anger will have a vital impact.

Many incidents involving aggressive people take place in public places where the aggressor has an “audience” and it will help the situation a lot if you make the encounter a one to one situation where the aggressor will not be able to “play to the audience”. Most of all, do not put the aggressor in a situation where he or she will be seen as losing face to the audience.

In the early part of this stage, what you say in your efforts to calm the individual is probably less important than how you actually say it. How well you communicate non-verbally will be very important in sending calming messages to your aggressor.

There are several non-verbal behaviours which can help to signal non-aggression and encourage the aggressor to calm down

  • Move slowly – sudden, quick or unpredictable movements can sign aggression particularly to someone who is already tense and feeling threatened.
  • Allow space – respect the aggressor’s “personal space”. Moving into a person’s personal space is very intimidating and almost threatening.
  • Reduce aggressive signals – finger pointing, sustained eye contact, arms folded, hands on hips are all gestures which heighten tension rather than reduce it.
  • Deliberately adopt  “friendly” gestures – extending your arms with the palm of your hands outwards, dropping your shoulders, gentle voice tone, an open interview stance and your head to one side rather than full on – these will help to signal to the aggressor that you do not seek to be aggressive.

When you have managed to calm the aggressor to a point when you feel they are able to listen to you, then you can move into the next stage of building rapport.

RAPPORT

This is really about winning the aggressor’s trust. If you are to gain effective control of the situation then it is crucial that the aggressor feels that he or she can trust you. This will involve showing empathy towards the aggressor.

This means letting the person know that you can appreciate his or her view of the world and the particular situation they are in. This is distinct from sympathy and agreeing that their view is the right one. Showing empathy can be achieved by simply reflecting back to the person what they have said.

Be careful not to use emotive words or phrases which emphasises failure of loss of face like:

“That was a pretty stupid way of carrying on wasn’t it?”

Show the individual that you are a person too. This may involve giving a little bit of yourself away to encourage the aggressor to talk and to be more open.

By this stage you should be dealing with a much more rational person who is amenable to reason and is listening to what you are saying. If you are not – then you need to continue with the “calming” skills until the person is able to be more rational.

 

Remember: Patients are not always right but they ARE important. Show them they are important by the way you treat them.

 

 

 

Telephone Techniques for Receptionists – Eight Great Hates


In your next team meeting discuss ways of improving your telephone skills – think of those annoying things that annoy you when YOU are making a call to an organisation.What annoys people most when they are on the telephone? Being put on hold was a definite winner. However, there were other frustrating events on the telephone. Below are the “great hates” of all times:

1.       Being Put On Hold

People need to be put on hold – more so in an environment where confidentiality is vital. Never just put a phone down on the desk and not put it on hold – the caller will hear everything.

But it is the length of time people are put on hold for – and left wondering if they have been cut off. Ensure that callers are not left on hold for more than a couple of minutes before going back to the caller – apologise for the delay in putting their call through and ask them if they wish to continue holding – or if you can get someone to call them back. Give them the option.

Does your organisation have music while they are on hold – a good way of the customer knowing that they are still connected and not been cut off. Choose your music carefully.

If the caller has been waiting for some time and you are unable to put the call through take their details and tell them someone will call them back.

Always remember to thank the caller for holding and apologise for the delay.

2.        Call Waiting

People do not like being kept waiting in a queue – it can confuse the elderly, and can often cost people a lot of money if they are waiting on a mobile telephone. If your organisation has call holding do you monitor it and ensure that callers are not holding on for long periods of time.

 3.        Poor Screening

Screen the call before you put it through. Ensure that you have the correct information to enable you to pass the call to the correct person.

People do not appreciate being transferred several times  – ensure that you put the call through to the correct person that can deal with the caller.

Often calls can be lost when being transferred. Try to avoid this from happening.

Being alert whilst dealing with the telephone is vital.

4.        Mouth Noises

People do not appreciate heavy breathing down the telephone, sniffling, coughing or appreciate being spoke to by someone who is eating something at the same time. You should not drink whilst talking on the telephone either.

If you have to sneeze, cough or something similar put your hand over the mouthpiece of the telephone and apologise to the caller when you return to the call.

5.        Not Paying Attention

There is nothing worse than speaking to someone and they have a lack of interest in the conversation.  A lack of interest can often cause to a breakdown in communication and the caller to be put through to the wrong extension – or worse still a message not being taken correctly.

Also being asked to hold on whilst you speak to someone else – if you do have to do this apologise to the caller first before you speak to the other person – and then when you go back to the caller thank them for holding. Remember to mute the call – you do not want the caller to hear your conversation – remember confidentiality.

6.        Bad Attitude, Rude

No one likes to speak to someone with a bad attitude and more soto  someone who is rude. Ensure that you are always polite and helpful – especially if the call could be a complaint – try turning the complaint in to a compliment – and this can be achieved by being polite and helpful.

7.        Answering Machines

Some patients do not like answering machines – especially the elderly so avoid using these as much as you can. You will need to use an answering machine after surgery closes. Always ensure that your machine has a clear up to date message on it before you close for the evening. Repeat any telephone numbers slowly and repeat them twice.

Do you use a answering machine at lunchtime if your surgery closes? If so, ensure that you check it as soon as the Surgery opens after lunch and deal with any messages left on the machine. Again ensure that the message lets your patients know when you are open again after lunch.

Remember to have the appropriate messages on each evening and lunchtime. Also change your message every bank holiday – advising patients who to contact in the case of an emergency.

8.         Voice Mail

In today society voice mail is very much part of our working day – what would we do without it. But it has to be used correctly. It is no good putting a call through to a voicemail if you know that extension is not going to be there for some time ie days or weeks. Advising the caller first is the best option – explain that the person will be away for a while and ask if there is anyone else you can put them through to – OR if they are happy to leave a voicemail you can put them though. Do not just put the call through knowing it is going to go into voicemail. Ask the caller first.

Voice mail messages need to be updated accurately. The message needs to be clear and included in the message

  • Apologise for not being at your desk
  • Advise when you will be returning (time or if another day the day and date)
  • If there is another person that can help you can give their details/extension number but the Receptionists should be made aware of this.
  • Ask for a name, telephone and brief message and if you say you will get back to them ensure that you do.
  • And thank the caller for leaving their message.

The reason why so many people do not like voice mails is not the machine – but the person behind the machine – when they do not communicate and leave the appropriate message on the phone. Another hate is when someone leaves a message and their call is not returned.

If someone has been good enough to leave a message the least they deserve is a return call.

  • What is your personal “great hate” in telephone calls?
  •  Name three things you can do to eliminate the great hates?

 

Receptionists Training: Listening Skills


LISTENING SKILLS – WHAT ARE THEY?

Being a good listener is your starting point for being a good receptionist, but there are “skills” to listening that goes beyond just lending an ear and making sympathetic noises when someone points out their troubles.

We should try to listen ‘actively’ so that the person feels that we are with them and are trying hard to understand their story and how they feel. We do not have to be trained as counsellors or to be able to use listening skills but we do need to be aware that – like all skills they need to be practiced. They are different from conversation skills and are harder to perfect.

Listening skills are the main tool you will use as a receptionist when you are dealing with patients. Whatever you think of your abilities as a listener you should always be assessing how you work, finding weakness in your approach and trying to improve on them.

UNDERSTANDING

You can get clues about others’ attitudes and understand their point of view better, even if you do not like them or agree with them.

INFORMATION

You motivate others to continue talking and give you as much information as they can – without too much effort – this will help you reach the right decision quickly and save time.

CO-OPERATION

People appreciate your interest in what they have to say, and are likely to work better with you. This works well when someone might be making a complaint.

 PEOPLE LISTENING TO YOU IN RETURN

This works both ways and can often get a better result.

You might be prevented from listening well by your own views or by other distractions. To overcome this try to:

  • Put aside thought of what you are going to say next
  • Avoid interrupting
  • Resist distraction
  • Face the speaker, so you both see and hear each other
  • As for clarification where you do not understand the other person
  • Focus on the main points only – do not get side tracked onto another issue
  • Always make brief notes (key words ie dates, times, names, nature of conversation)
  • Prioritise – if you are in hurry, if appropriate postpone to a time when you can give the situation your full-time (this might be a staff issue if you are a manager or team leader) If you cannot postpone make sure someone will deal with the situation – but ensure that they are aware of the situation. Advise the person you are dealing with knows that you have passed it on to someone else.
  • Use encouraging language (“I was interested in your point………”)
  • As for clarification (“could you give me an example of that”)
  • Paraphrase (“you said…….”)
  • Do not interrupt – let the other person have their say.
  • Do not undermine other people.

THINK ABOUT IT.

The patient has come expecting:

  • A non-judgemental and supportive response to the issues they want to discuss.
  • A supportive environment whatever their issue or the decisions they take to resolve it.
  • To feel supported in an open atmosphere – this may be the first time they have been open and they may well be frightened or anxious about speaking to someone

HERE ARE SOME BASIC BUT HELPFUL REMINDERS ON HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS.

  • Give individual attention
  • Repress emotional responses
  • Pay attention to non verbal messages
  • Notice body language
  • Do not pre-judge – listen to what the other person is saying, not what you think he /she is going to say. Give them time to finish.
  • Do not pre-formulate your reply – wait until the patient has finished before you reply. Often we are thinking of a reply and do not hear everything the other person has to say.
  • Focus on the important issues – concentrate on the main messages, do not get involved on trivial issues.
  • Test your understanding – check out your understanding by paraphrasing eg “what you are saying is……………..”
  • Respond to feelings – a message has both content and feelings. It is vital to understand feelings behind the message and respond to them, rather than only the content.
  • Give
  • paraphrase
  • Check for understanding

And remember – treat the person in front of you as you would want to be treated if it was you standing there in their shoes.

Helping Patients With Learning Disabilities


People with learning disabilities are a small proportion of the population; however evidence suggests they have greater health needs, in relation to hearing and visual disabilities, hypertension, chronic bronchitis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, gross obesity, spinal deformities, skin disorders and mental health.

Patient can often feel intimidated and often feel confused and may be happy to let their carer speak for them.

They might often see the Doctor or Nurse but leave the room without having communicated what the reason was for attending the Surgery. In addition to these problems many people with learning disabilities may not be able to understand written instruction which can cause them some distress.

Areas to be Considered

Communication

  • Use clear short sentences
  • Check the patient’s comprehension of the conversation by asking questions that will clarify that they have understood.
  • Give clear information. It might be necessary to explain in more detail because of the patient’s level of understanding.
  • If it helps the patient write instructions down.
  • When asking the patient asks a question please give them time to reply.
  • Direct the question at the patient rather than just to their Carer.
  • Use good body language and eye contact at all times.
  • Make them feel at ease.
  • Do not rush them.
  • Give them your full attention.
  • Most of all give them time.

Appointments

  • Consider booking a longer appointment to give both the GP and the patient time to communicate.
  • People with learning disabilities may become anxious in a crowded and noisy waiting room, so appointments booked at quieter times of the day might ease anxiety.
  • Some people with learning disabilities may find it difficult while waiting for their appointment; this may be overcome by booking at the beginning of the appointment list.
  • Continuity is important to people with learning disabilities – if they gel well with a certain Doctor or Nurse wherever possible please try to book them with that Doctor/Nurse.
  • Always give an appointment card for their next appointment; please do not give it verbally.

Know Your Patients

A good receptionist will know her patients – and will understand the patients especially those with special needs. She will know exactly the needs of the patient and will endeavour to do her utmost to ensure that the patient has a good experience when coming to the Surgery and this begins at the front desk.

 

 

Going To A Meeting


The organisation may hold many different meetings. As a Supervisor or a Manager you may be required to represent your team, and expected to feedback what you have discussed at the meeting.  In this blog and future blogs I will give guidelines and useful hints on how to participate
and hold a successful meeting. The three “P’s” are vital.

  • Preparation
  • Participation
  • Positive Attitude

This not only supports you but the rest of the team in the meeting.

You may be asked to attend a meeting at short notice (perhaps in someone’s
absence
)

If this happens try to be as organised as possible – ask to read the last minutes – this will give you an idea on what may be discussed at the meeting.  Remember to take a notebook and pen to take notes – you may need to feed back to staff some issues from the meeting and may need to be done before the minutes are typed and distributed.

For every meeting there should always be:

  •  An Agenda
  • A Chairperson
  • A person taking minutes
  • Minutes to follow every meeting.
  • A task sheet (this can be used as a quick guide on outstanding tasks)

Do your homework first, know where the meeting is being held. The time the meeting is being held at and who to contact should the need arise.

Do not assume that the meeting with be in the same place it usually is – meeting can often change venues, days and times.

Always arrive for a meeting in plenty of time. If you have to travel to the venue allow time for traffic and parking.

Always try to participate in the meeting – you will get far more out of it. Bring along issues that concern your team.

Have a positive attitude. In doing so this will flow through your team – if you come back from a meeting with a negative attitude then this will cause unnecessary negativity throughout your team.

The importance of being a good Supervisor or Manager?


Managerial effectiveness is a crucial element in the running of any Practice. But being a “good” manager is not just about hitting targets and working for the company – it is all about managing your staff in the most proactive way you can. Leadership is the only way forward. Here are some points that are vital to a Manager to help manage a good and happy team.

I will use the term “Manager” in this blog but this is also for anyone in a supervisory
role – being a Supervisor you are in a responsible role and lead a team and this is just as important as a managerial role.

LEADERSHIP

In every organisation there is a definite need for leadership. Whether it is a Team Leader, Supervisor or Manager they are vital to the practice. You will need to be goal orientated, self-motivated and possess boundless energy and have to learn how to exert influence effectively in all directions – upwards, downwards and sideways. You will need to show strong leadership both to your bosses and the staff.

You will need to earn respect from your staff and your Partners – and that comes with
time. You need to be seen to be fair, treating everyone with respect and not show any signs of favouritism.

Strict neutrality is also necessary in your dealings with staff. It is hard to maintain a strictly unbiased approach if you are particularly friendly with one or more members of staff.

The role of a Manager can sometimes be very lonely.

TEAM BUILDING

Team building is vital for the whole practice.

Communication plays a big part in Team Building. Get to know your team where possible as individuals. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and their hopes. These will help when it comes to yearly appraisals. By knowing your staff and their bilities you are able to place them in the job best suited to them. You might have someone who has great people skills – they will be ideal to put on the front desk, and someone who has great computer skills yet not so good on people skills, they would be great at carrying out admin and computer work. By placing these people in these roles make for happier staff – they are doing something they enjoy  rather than just doing a job given to them.

You need all types of staff to have a team. Someone that is has a great telephone manner, someone who has great people skills and someone who has great organisational skills – use them to the best of their ability.

Team Building is such a important part of your job.

MOTIVATING STAFF

Motivating staff is an essential part of any manger’s work. Most staff seeks not only an
interesting job but usually like to feel that what they are doing is worthwhile and that they have job security. They need to be able to respect their boss(es) and have the respect back. Offer staff opportunities – training, learning new skills, and promotion wherever possible.

Staff are more likely to be motivated if they receive recognition and praise when it is deserved. This can be given to individual members of the team or to the team as a whole.

If you are praising an individual do not do it in front of the other members of the team. Call them to your office and give the praise – if the praise is to the whole team give this at a team meeting – and ensure that staff that are not at the meeting receive the praise. You could verbally give the praise followed up by a memo to all concerned.

Staff will work better if the management of the practice is not only consistent by also seen to be fair.

STAFF MEETINGS

Finding time to have staff meetings is never easy. Especially in Practice as many of the
staff are part-time workers and therefore you never having everyone there at the same time.

Some practices have staff meetings in the evenings; some have “breakfast” meetings before the surgery opens. Others have staff meetings during the lunch break. One thing is for sure if you have a big team of receptionists you will never have everyone attend the meeting. Look at the best times that staff can attend. Send out a memo asking them what they would prefer. Try to rotate the meetings every time so everyone gets a fair change of attending the next one.

But the important thing is to keep staff informed if they are unable to attend. For me the best way was to have each and every meeting has minutes taken and copies sent out to all staff – those that were present and those that could not attend also copy in your manager and the staff Partner. Always keep a copy of every meeting on file for future reference.

It is important to give staff plenty of notice when the next meeting is going to take place. A good suggestion is to agree the next date at the meeting you are holding. This way you can add it to the minutes.

If you have a lunchtime meeting a good idea is to provide lunch – perhaps a nice kind rep would be happy to help.

As a Practice you will have to decide if overtime is going to be paid and at what rate.

Let all staff have an opportunity of adding items to the agenda.

In my experience most staff are happy to attend meetings if they can see the point of it and a positive outcome with direction action being taken if appropriate.

If you learn to hold successful meetings, you should be guaranteed a good attendance.

STAFF TRAINING

Staff training is vital – it is essential for every Practice to be able to move forward. Well
trained staff are confident staff.

Invest in good training. It does not always have to cost a fortune. There are several options that you can take when it comes to staff training. You can either send individual staff on training courses outside the practice – your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) usually run excellent courses and many of these are free.

You can attend courses and then bring them back to the and train staff.

You can have an outside organisation come into the Practice and train several staff at the same time – this can be some similar to a staff meeting when it can be done during a lunchtime. Again Reps are often able to help in the cost of training.

Ensure that you log all training that staff has been on – keep a training log of their individual training skills in their staff files.

Staff Appraisals

Appraisals are a two-way process. If you need to explain to staff that one of the reasons
why you wish to hold individual appraisals is because you wish to learn from them, how they feel about their particular job and their role in the practice, this should ensure that they begin to feel less apprehensive about the whole process.

For some reason staff always see appraisals as a negative thing. Try to change that.

The appraisal interview should provide a forum for feedback from the employee as well as a chance for the manager to praise past efforts and offer constructive criticism on ways in which improvements can take place. Training needs can be identified and methods of monitoring development can be set up.

It is important that you listen to their views and recommendations and, where possible implement changes that they have suggested. But do not make promises that you will not be able to keep.

And most important

COMMUNICATION

Communication is vital. Staff needs to be kept informed in anything that might involve them. Lack of communication is a good way to start rumours and bad feelings amongst staff. Keep your staff informed of necessary changes within their jobs or within the Practice.

Talk to your staff, feedback when and where possible – staff meetings are good for this as
are memo’s and talking to staff wherever possible.

And remember – there is no “I” in TEAM