Making your management mark

Making your management mark

Without good leadership skills, some practitioners have big problems
Jul 01, 2008

Martha Cima was rather stunned. She had just returned with her husband from a brief vacation — only four days — to see her sister in a nearby state. Things were tense when she left, but when she returned she wasn't prepared for this. She asked Sarah to begin again.

Sarah Clinton cleared her throat, calmed herself and began again.

"Dr. Cima, you should have heard the things Janice was saying about you and some of the other girls. She specifically said that you had lost control of some of the people, were paying too much attention to unimportant details and had dropped the ball with several of the better clients. And, as usual, Janice was bossing people around right and left, the way she always does. She even made Dorene cry. After Dorene went home, Janice said she deserved it. She then told the others that Dorene should stay home until she takes better control of the front."

Sarah paused, bit her lip and continued. "Dr. Cima, there were a few clients in the waiting room when all of this was going on and they probably heard everything. The arguments were about the staff schedule and who should be off when."

"I made up the schedule before I left," Martha offered.

Does your practice really need leadership?
"I know," Sarah said, "but Janice and Toby changed it because they said Dorene was working too many hours. They both said that you make a lot of mistakes with the schedule. Janice said she always made out the schedule when Dr. Smith owned the practice, and it always worked."

"What about Dr. Jeffers?" Martha asked, referring to the new associate, Barbara Jeffers.

"Oh, she was right in there agreeing with Janice. And to make matters worse, some of the others were starting to take sides. But Joan and Diane were just listening on the sidelines and trying to lay low and not say too much."

Barbara Jeffers had been with the practice only a few months and had come with a history of frequent migration from one job to another. She interviewed well, but had taken to gossiping and coming in late in the weeks before Martha left. Martha, non-confrontational and ever the optimist, had hoped that Barbara would step up and take control of the management side while she was gone. She never thought Barbara would stoop to this.

"Anything else?" Martha squeaked in obvious despondency.

"Well, Dr. Jeffers made a few clients mad with her abruptness. She seems to be very good, but has some issues with anger when clients ask too many questions."

Martha cringed, realizing that she herself was slow and methodical in the exam room; but she prided herself in her ability to answer every client's question in a compassionate manner.

"Do you have any suggestions?" Martha asked.

"Maybe a staff meeting — something ... I don't know."

"Thanks, Sarah, for the heads-up," Martha said quietly as Sarah disappeared into an exam room.

Sarah was Dr. Cima's cousin and now a trusted staff member. But some staff members also considered her a snitch.