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5 Ways to Combat Staff Complacency in a Medical Practice
All providers strive to deliver quality care and support to patients. However, just like any profession, even the top-performing medical personnel can get caught up in "going through the motions" and become complacent. In a time of “healthcare burnout” and “quiet quitting”, clinicians must stay vigilant to ensure work and care quality throughout their practice holds strong.
This starts with recognizing signs of complacency in yourself and others, so you can address and change the behavior. These can include:
- Lack of investment in yourself or others
- Loss of passion for your work
- Disinterest in the future, including other opportunities or promotions
- Frequent mistakes
- Minimal initiative or none at all
- Neglecting tasks and showing carelessness
So, how do you curb complacency in a healthcare setting? Although it can be a response to external factors (take overburdened COVID workers, for example), there are ways to nip complacency in the bud so that all employees remain a valued part of the team. If you notice complacency in your team, consider these five tips:
- Reinforce your values
Your practice likely has core values, such as personal development, integrity, diversity and family, but are those values regularly shared, expanded upon and reinforced? If you answered no, those values might not be truly understood or embraced by your staff. This can contribute to a culture where people start to behave in ways that don't align with your organization's standards. Consider sharing examples of when employees successfully brought values to life. Have employees share stories and explain the decision-making process and mindsets that went into their positive decisions. You can also present mistakes made in the organization so that employees can learn from those, too.
- Eliminate inefficient routines
A leading factor that contributes to complacency is a lack of organizational improvement. Many routine common tasks within medical practices are perceived as inefficient by clinicians and staff alike, such as cumbersome check-in or charting routines. Rather than settle for doing things the way you’ve always done them–even though they may be known time-suckers–look for ways to deploy new methods or technologies that can both improve efficiency and introduce new energy into the practice. Medical scribing services that significantly reduce the provider’s daily burden of entering notes into the EMR–like the virtual scribe offerings at Physicians Angels–are a prime example.
- Increase employee self-awareness
One of the major ways you can minimize or eliminate complacent behavior is by teaching your staff how to be more self-aware. Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund define self-awareness as the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards. If the members of your team are more self-aware, they can better understand their actions and be open to evaluating them to ensure they are performing as they should. To encourage self-awareness, you can try things like:
• Asking employees to write a list of their strengths and weaknesses
• Regularly provide feedback
• Encourage your team to step away from work when they need a break
• Incorporate peer and self-reviews
• Assign them a mentor (see #4)
- Prioritize mentorship
Mentorship builds confidence and character; challenges comfort zones and creates lasting connections. And while mentorship is valuable in all aspects of life, it's particularly beneficial in healthcare due to the demanding academics, training and job responsibilities. Collaborative relationships between experienced practitioners and early professionals play a vital role in the personal and professional development of everyone involved, resulting in the improvement of the overall quality of healthcare delivery.
One way you can change up an employee's routine is by introducing job shadowing. This adds some diversity to their day and allows them to become cross-trained. Simply being around a peer who pays close attention to detail and performs their job well can be motivating. Another benefit of job shadowing is the opportunity to grow strong work relationships, which can ultimately lead to higher employee satisfaction and loyalty to the practice.
- Teach and guide your team regularly
Effective communication and coaching play a crucial role in overcoming complacency. To coach your staff through a period of complacency, you can do a few things. Try asking them questions. After all, one of the quickest ways to see how someone is doing and feeling is simply by asking them. Focus on being consistent. Coaching an employee through a rough patch isn't something that will transform their behavior overnight. Commit to a schedule and regularly meet with them. And lastly, let the employee know that you care and are invested in getting them back on track.
Apply these five tips, and you'll be one step closer to breaking free from complacency to help yourself, your practice and your team.
Physicians Angels is the industry’s first Virtual Scribe company, providing real-time documentation directly into the physician’s EMR, along with Virtual Back Office services. Our services save the physician an average of 10 hours per week, thereby improving patient throughput and contributing to a better work/life balance for the physician and office staff. To learn more, visit physiciansangels.com or contact us.