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Practice Managers | Jan/Feb '15

Listen to Your Administrator!

Is your administrator honest with you? What does the person in charge of running your practice need most from you, the physician? Wouldn’t you love to know?

Well, my friends, I am here to tell you the big secret. I have heard from administrators far and wide, at conferences, online, and in person. The message I get from them is loud, clear, and consistent. Most administrators are just tired of telling their physicians and being ignored. Some don’t speak up at all because they are confident that you will not hear them. So, in this article, I will speak to you (physicians) for them (administrators), respectfully yet candidly.

“What?” you say, “I do that!” I beg to differ. Yes, you let your administrator handle the financials, the billing, and even the office décor. This individual manages the bank accounts, the contracts, and the regulations. But will you let your administrator handle the staff? Even if it means—gasp!—the techs?

As a tech now in an administrator’s role, I can speak without prejudice. Some of your techs MUST be stopped! They are killing morale in your office. Some of your surgery schedulers wreak havoc in their wake. That front desk person who has been at the practice for 20 years? She’s scaring people! And YOU are letting it happen. You are losing potential long-term, rock-star employees in the process. (There is nothing that a morale killer loves more than to get rid of those who represent a possible positive change in the office.)

Now that we’ve outlined the problem, it’s time to talk solutions. There are two basic approaches you could take.


Assuming you are seriously considering option #2, allow me to offer some tips in proceeding down this path. Take a genuinely objective approach. Listen to how your “angel tech” is saving his or her “devil face” for everyone but you. Yes, this tech may be über skilled and having him or her in your clinic makes life so much easier for you. Hear what your administrator tells you is happening the rest of the time: how this employee is persecuting other techs, how the front desk would rather improperly schedule a patient than ask for his or her help, how the opticians NEVER cross paths with him or her … there may even be patient complaints!

Encourage the administrator to speak with this individual, now with your support. (It is often best if the administrator go to the meeting with clearly outlined expectations of changes that are necessary.)

My guess is that the bad behavior has been long tolerated and previously threatened, so your administrator’s meeting with the person may go nowhere. Likely, if you have played the enabler role, even once, you will hear from the staff member, who will expect your “help” again. Don’t side with him or her! Rather, talk about what your expectations are for productive, engaged team members. Assuming that you and the administrator are now on the same page, these goals will be simply reiterating the expectations outlined to the employee earlier. Thank the employee for all he or she brings to the team and for taking teamwork to the next level. Point out what a great example of “stepping up” he or she will become for his or her teammates. By using the employee as a role model, you encourage him or her toward greater heights. And really, who doesn’t really want to become better?

Be prepared, doc! There may come a time to say goodbye. Most physicians do not even consider this a possibility, and, when it comes, shock ensues. Talk to your administrator about his or her plan if you reach this eventuality. As an administrator (and a technician), I realize the importance of what a seasoned tech brings to the team. I will ALWAYS have a backup plan for the rare times when an individual chooses not to heed the instructions of the administrators. Start training for this now.

Moral of the story: You are either going to have destructive employees that you protect or a disengaged, disgruntled administrator. Which will you choose?