Workplace culture is highly influenced by the relationship between clinical leaders and their staff members. Several decades ago, physicians held most of the power when it came to patient care. Nowadays, however, patient care is typically bound by administrative rules, that is, rules created by staff members. Still, many medical practices maintain a power shift towards physicians, where they determine the practice’s operations, need for changes, and goals. In any case, having a positive work environment is vital to your practice’s success and depends greatly on the engagement of your staff members. Yet, maintaining that positivism means ensuring that your workplace is not toxic. “Having a great workplace culture can appear to be rare–and creating one is elusive and near impossible for some managers. People are often frustrated by their culture, with some describing their workplace as being dominated by negative and toxic personalities, with underhanded and manipulative infighting that stifles growth, innovation and results” said Richard Dore, director of Proteus Leadership Centres.
It may be difficult to admit but it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of seeing patients. At one point or another, your practice may hit a bump in the road – especially during busy times. However, do not feel discouraged – no medical practice is perfect. The most important thing that you can do is to recognize clues that your workplace culture needs a boost and to identify ways in which you can improve engagement and productivity. Here are 10 signs that your workplace culture requires improvement:
1. Your staff members are not happy
Are your staff members feeling unhappy? Tired? Burnt out? Chances are that if the answer is yes to these questions, you may have a toxic workplace culture. The fact of the matter is that staff members who are unhappy and unmotivated are less productive and more likely to make errors. In the world of medicine, not being able to identify and prevent medical errors can result in severe consequences that can put an immense strain on your practice.
2. Your staff members do not trust you
Every practice needs a strong leader – one that can take on management responsibilities, motivate staff members, as well as identify and strive towards goals and objectives. If your staff members are questioning your behavior or motives, then this mistrust indicates that your workplace is in need of necessary changes. You need to prove that you have your staff members’ and the entire practice’s best interests at heart and that you are strongly committed to achieving team goals.
3. Your practice is not meeting its goals
If your practice is under-performing, this is a key indicator that your business is not meeting its goals. Perhaps the under-performance is due to misunderstanding, poor management, lack of communication or lack of interest among staff members. Whatever the cause, it is necessary identify the main indicator(s) before under-performance begins to exceed productivity and services.
4. You play favorites
Whether or not you mean to play favorites, it can lead to negative energy among your staff members and around your practice. As you spend more time with a selected few members than with others, this may result in stronger bonds. However, favoritism can cause hurt feelings and lead to destroyed trust and confidence in the practice. This, in turn, can also lead staff members to feel discouraged, unmotivated or even seek employment elsewhere.
5. Your practice receives a lot of negative reviews
While negative reviews are to be expected, once they start to exceed the good reviews, this could be a sign that changes need to be made around your practice. Like it or not, when it comes to choosing the right doctor, most individuals read the experiences of others before deciding whether or not to make an appointment to see you. This is only logical because there is no reason to believe that others would lie about their experiences. Are you receiving negative reviews because of how your staff members greet patients? Or perhaps because of the medical advice that you give? If you do not get to the bottom of the reasons why, negative reviews can tarnish your practice’s reputation.
6. Your staff members work in silos
In business terms, silo is described as departments or groups that do not wish to share information, tools, or goals with others. The silo mentality within a workplace can contribute to the failure of a business. A lack of collaboration and teamwork among your staff members suggests that your practice needs a cultural boost. After all, there is no “I” in “Team” and teamwork leads to successful achievements.
7. Your staff members lack positive feedback
You should not under-estimate the importance of positive feedback. Staff members’ attitudes set the tone for each patient visit you have--every day. Lack of positive feedback within your practice suggests that it is a difficult place to work and if staff members do not feel as if they are achieving results, this can lead them to feel as if they will never move up from their current roles. Unmotivated staff members will not stay committed to a practice if they are not presented with positive opportunities that they need in order to develop their skills and advance within the workplace.
8. You and / or your staff members are experiencing burnout
A workplace culture that lacks in maintaining a healthy work life balance is doomed to present higher burnout rates, lower productivity levels, as well as lower staff confidence. It does not matter how much revenue your practice makes. If you work in a toxic environment, you will carry around the tension and your job responsibility – providing patients with quality care and ensuring their well-being - will start to feel like a burden. For this reason, it is necessary to identify and address any burnout problems within the practice by implementing approaches to deal with overwhelming stress. Failure to do so can result in the collapse of your practice’s quality culture.
9. Your staff members are defensive and fear taking risks
If you continuously point out areas that need improvement and staff members react defensively, perhaps they may feel that you are criticizing them or that they are not getting enough support from you. This, in turn, can cause a few members to fear taking risks or adopting new approaches that could lead to betterment of the practice. Open communication within the workplace is vital to addressing efforts of good faith and executing new initiatives.
10. Your practice is not up to date with the latest technological advancements
Nowadays, technology is continuously driving several sectors, including healthcare. Having the right tools and technologies is required in order to enhance a practice’s performance and innovations. Staying up to date with the latest technological advancements is often overlooked as a cultural component; however, keep in mind that innovations can either lead a business ahead or behind the competition.
If your practice is showing any of the above clues, it is most likely in need of improvement. The good news is that by recognizing the clues and making necessary changes, you have the opportunity to transform your workplace culture. This means going beyond your personal needs and providing continuous support among staff members. This should be done through setting clear directions of the practice’s goals and priorities, providing practical solutions, responding to questions and concerns, raising adequate funding, providing training and guidance, as well as exhibiting a caring attitude. “The bottom line is that a change in culture that values respect and teamwork amongst health professionals will serve our patients better, and it will make the medical field a much more enjoyable place to work. We in healthcare can either work toward a culture change or stand still and become dinosaurs while the rest of the world reaps the benefits of collaboration and teamwork” wrote Vipan Nikore, internal medicine physician and president of uFLOW.