You’re going to spend 50-60 cents of every dollar on your staff. They cost a lot because they’re worth it, but if you don’t manage their time effectively, you’ll soon find that your bottom line is a little closer to the bottom than it should be.
It’s a challenge that we are all familiar with – getting the most out of our employee budget. We tend to focus most of our time on productivity, and while strategies to maximize productivity are critical to keep your business going, not every moment on the clock can be measured with a billable unit.
There are a number of other crucial areas to worry about. Project management, administration, training, and business development activities are harder to track with traditional productivity measures. How can we ensure our investments in these areas achieve a positive return for our companies?
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Many of us will be drawn toward quality or efficiency metrics which can (and should) be used to measure time spent by staff in these areas, however it is what happens BEFORE the time is spent that holds the key to the wisest use of staff time – being clear about how time is to be used. It is the owner or manager’s job to ensure that staff know exactly what is expected of them, and how their performance will be measured. Without this, how can we truly expect that their time on our clock will be used in a way most aligned with our business objectives?
Clarity takes a bit of work, but it’s worth the effort. Try these tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your staff:
- Give specific instructions on marketing to referral sources. Have you ever asked a member of your team to go out and “market” to referral sources or small businesses in your area? Did you sit down with them and come up with a set of goals and plan? Of course, your staff members with natural marketing ability will have this nailed, but if you assume all of your staff members have those abilities, you may find yourself incurring a payroll expense that does not help your business. Instead of asking your staff to “go out and market,” be specific – “I’d like you to share our pelvic wellness packet with five women’s health physicians within the area.”
- Remember that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. What gets measured gets managed. Without a specific measurement, it is impossible to know if one’s actions are in alignment with the business objectives. If you’ve asked your lead clinician to make recommendations for improved throughput of patients through your office, define the measure that will be used to drive their work. “I’m looking to reduce our average time spent in the waiting room from 10 minutes to less than 3 by improving our patient throughput.”
- Set deadlines for your goals. You may already be finding that without a deadline, NOTHING is a priority. It’s more challenging for your staff to get things done. Your staff will be less likely to lose sight of a project or “drop the ball” when they know the project must be complete by a certain time and that you’ll be there waiting for them to cross the finish line. If you’ve asked your office manager to train a new receptionist, let him know that you expect the new employee to be fully effective in their role within X number of days of the hire. Being absolutely clear with our requests of staff time – actually spelling it out – is critical to the effective use of the most important investment we make in our businesses. It takes some discipline, but it’s worth it.
Try out a couple of these tips and see if it makes a difference!