How many times are you interrupted each day?
Twice a day? Three times a day? More than 10?
Unfortunately, most busy therapy practice owners can’t even count the number of times they are interrupted.
Do these look familiar?
- Your bookkeeper calls and needs to speak with you about your latest reconciliation report.
- Your front desk coordinator has a question about scheduling a patient or needs you to answer whether you’re willing to do a payment plan.
- Your billing administrator has an urgent Medicare insurance question, and it always seems to be an urgent question that can’t wait.
- Your therapist (the one that always brings his problems to you) needs your immediate attention because someone forgot to order more Theraband and there’s no more paper towels in the kitchen.
- Oh, and you have a packed patient schedule and have to be out of the office by 5 p.m. to watch your daughter’s practice.
Constant interruptions like these make it nearly impossible to be efficient with your time. In fact, according to this Forbes article, it could be hurting your brain.
And for those “multitaskers” who believe you can handle the interruptions because you’re good at doing many things at once….think again. Scientific research has shown our brains are unable to focus on more than one thing at a time. When we think we’re multitasking, we are really just doing multiple single activities very quickly.
So, how do you limit the constant interruptions? Below are four ways to reduce staff interruptions that will lead to more staff productivity, less disruption and a more cohesive team culture.
1. Set Expectations
In order for your team to feel empowered and enact decisions without the direct involvement of the owner (or supervisor) they must be clear on what is expected of them.
Increasing employee accountability helps reduce the need of the owner to answer every single question. For an employee to be held accountable, owners must provide clear expectations and responsibilities of their position or role in the company.
Review their job description. Are there areas that may be unclear or confusing? Have their duties changed over the months or years, yet have not been updated in the job description? Employee clarity always leads to empowerment and less interruptions for you.
2. Have a Vision
In my experience, the best employees want to work for a company that does something impactful. They want the work they do to be meaningful and purpose-filled, and feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.
That’s where vision comes in. Having a strong, clear vision for your practice gives everyone on your team something they can believe in. It’s the first step in connecting your staff with why you opened up your practice and what the future looks like. When your team feels inspired and connected with the vision, they will be more likely to take a more active role and be more responsible. This, in turn, helps reduce confusion and the questions that follow.
3. Be Targeted
As mentioned above, most confusion starts with a lack of clarity. Having clear and specific targets of their key metrics will help reduce confusion and uncertainty about what you expect. Metrics such as number of visits per week, units per visits, patient reviews, cancellation rates and others will help focus employees on the key areas of their job.
Employees can use this information to troubleshoot a poor performing metric to determine where the problem might be. Of course, all of this happens without interrupting you with questions.
4. Provide Training
Expectations, metrics and vision are critical to reducing confusion and interruptions in the workplace. However, just telling someone what’s expected is not the same as showing someone how it is supposed to be done. This is why training your staff is critical.
Checklists, videos, and role play are all tools used to ensure the employee is able to perform the duties necessary to be successful. When the employee is competent in their duties, they become more confident in doing them. This reduces confusion and the need to ask questions and interrupt the owner.
Accountability isn’t something we can force on our staff. It’s based on a sense of ownership of work that is part of a practice’s culture. Creating that culture starts with implementing the four suggestions above to provide clarity and direction for your team. When employees feel more clear and supported, they’ll feel safe and empowered to do their job well…resulting in higher productivity and less interruptions.
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