The medical office was buzzing with drama. The second doctor in two weeks was loudly disparaging Katie, a new medical assistant, to the office manager.
“Yes, yes,” he said, “she has the basic skills, but I need someone to prep my charts in the way that works for me. They need to notify me of the trends on those charts, prepare the room, take vitals, and transcribe my verbal notes accurately every day. I don’t care if she is only 19 — that isn’t an excuse!”
The office manager asked if the doctor had taken the time to help Katie understand his expectations.
“I have no time for that!” the doctor shouted. “Get me someone new!”
Falling Short of Unclear Expectations
As the complaints rang out across the clinic, Katie sat in the back sobbing. She’d heard them a week earlier when another physician had expressed the same frustrations. Katie was diligently trying to anticipate and perform the requirements of her job, but the expectations seemed different from those she’d prepared for.
The medical assistant was certain she would be fired, making all the time and effort she’d invested into paying for her career certification at the local college a waste.
As the commotion began to die down, another physician emerged from their office and walked over to the office manager.
“My medical assistant is leaving in three weeks,” the physician said. “Why don’t you assign Katie to me starting on Monday, and we will give her another chance.”
A Different Approach to Leadership
Before that physician left work on Friday afternoon, they stopped and touched base with Katie.
“Let’s meet for 45 minutes early on Monday morning. We can take some time to get to know each other and go over specifics on how we can work effectively as a team and help our patients. We are going to be successful together. We will learn and grow every day.”
Katie arrived on time the following Monday and a conversation unfolded. The physician was clear about what each step would look like and their expectations for chart prep and patient follow-up. The first week was bumpy, but Katie’s performance improved each day. By the third week, she was satisfactory in every aspect of her work. Monthly conversations shifted to ideas for building on her strengths.
“What areas would you like to grow and improve in?” the physician asked.
“Well,” Katie responded, “I especially enjoy connecting with patients after their appointments via phone and helping them with next steps.”
Pathways to Continued Growth
The meetings continued. As each month passed, a new goal and area of growth was identified for Katie. She met each one. By the end of the year, she was recognized as the office’s Medical Assistant of the Year due to her patient survey scores, attendance, and positive attitude.
As the year drew to a close, she and the physician met once again.
Katie said, “You have helped me every day in this role and made me feel successful. Through our follow-ups, goal setting, and talks about growth, I’ve begun to look forward to learning and working together each day. Thank you for taking the time to help me grow and improve. Without you, I think I would have left medicine altogether. Next semester, I’m applying for certification as a Registered Nurse and I feel confident that I can do it.”
Your Approach Can Determine the Outcome
Some authority figures demand performance from team members, without fully explaining expectations or giving those members the opportunity to grow into their roles. This shows a weakness on the part of the superior, not the team member.
As leaders, we need to understand that our team members do not work for us — rather, we all work together. It is your role and duty to nurture and grow new hires and younger team members to the level of performance expected of them. When team members are willing to try and leaders are willing to help them learn, there is little chance of failure.
Support your team members in achieving their greatest potential and becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Download the free eBook today!
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.