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5 Tips for New Administrators to Ramp up Quickly

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 9:00 AM

Aesthetic Medicine, Expert Advice

Written by: Glenn Morley

Glenn Morley
Senior Consultant

The first days as a new practice administrator are tremendously important, as they can set the tone for the entire team from top to bottom. This important window of time offers an opportunity to engage with staff, create open lines of communication with owners and physicians, and begin to establish yourself as a capable leader. However, it can be overwhelming and intimidating getting to know direct reports, figuring out a new boss, identifying operational needs, and evaluating financial and operational reporting.

These emotions are completely natural for a new administrator to feel. Based on my professional experience helping many new managers and administrators, I want to share some tips that may help you find success during the onset of your new role.

Tip #1: People First

As an administrator, patients aren’t your only customers — staff and providers are, too. Take the time to get to know all your team members through one-on-one meetings. Ask questions that will help you understand what inspires staff, what slows them down, how their roles are interrelated, and what functions and processes work — or don’t work — well. The insights you gain will be critical to understanding opportunities for improvement.

During this process you may hear varying opinions and perspectives. As a manager, you should remain neutral when listening to this input and form your own (carefully considered) opinions. With that said, below are questions to ask each team member.

  • What is the best part of your job?
  • What is the most difficult part of your job?
  • Are there any tools or resources that you think will help you do your job better?

Asking these questions will set an early pattern for the productive exchange of ideas and build a culture that is comfortable with self-examination and continual improvement. It will also allow you to understand and serve staff needs in an authentic and relevant way. Feeling listened to and understood is a critical part of the trust equation — it forms the foundation for nurturing and guiding a team toward bringing the best version of themselves to work every day. 

Tip #2: Model Servant Leadership

While Robert Greenleaf first coined the term “servant leadership” in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as a Leader,” it’s an approach people used long before the ’70s — and is still relevant nowadays. The nature of today’s workplace requires that we shift from managing for results to creating positive environments that produce results. Placing team needs before your own, demonstrating self-awareness, seeking understanding before drawing conclusions, listening before telling, and making accountability an organizational norm will help you create such an environment. Simultaneously, this approach will establish you as a leader who is invested in building a culture of trust and authenticity in the workplace.

Tip #3: Ask for the Resources Needed for Success

As a servant leader, it is your responsibility to understand ways to unleash the potential of everyone in the organization. Neither you nor your team will be successful if you do not have the right tools to do the job(s) at hand. Whether it's headsets for call center staff or a dual monitor for your clinical lead, gaining an understanding of what resources are needed to be most productive should begin early.

During your first few months, you have the advantage of seeing facilities and operations with fresh eyes, spending one-on-one time with each team member, and putting yourself in staff’s shoes. As a result, you will likely uncover needs that have not been understood or addressed. For example, facility improvements such as cracked paint or yellowing light fixtures that have been simply overlooked in the busy day-to-day rush to serve patients. A team needs the right environment, tools and resources, technology, and training and development to be successful.

Tip #4: Avoid Group Decision-Making, but …

One of your key responsibilities as an administrator is to move decisions forward (e.g., facility improvements) in a productive way. This can be an adjustment for a practice with a history of decision-making paralysis due to a habit of making decisions by committee. A decision-making matrix can be a helpful tool for clarifying authority and instilling a new and highly accountable decision-making approach.

It can be difficult for leadership and stakeholders to adjust when they are used to being involved in every decision. You can ease this shift by providing consistent and timely updates as well as thoroughly researching and vetting decisions. Keeping those vested in the practice informed will help bridge the gap between them feeling the need to know everything versus knowing what’s necessary. As a result, you will earn trust and increased levels of authority and decision-making autonomy, while instilling faith in your operational leadership abilities.

Tip #5: Stay Current

Considering today’s health care environment, your instincts are good if you have successfully attained a leadership position in a medical practice. While your experience provides you with insights that are invaluable, it’s your job to stay current on emerging trends. Today’s quickly evolving market and digital advancements are leading to industry-wide changes seemingly overnight, and it’s up to you to ensure your practice doesn’t get left behind.

Stay on top of cutting-edge industry developments by attending specialty-specific events, subscribing to pertinent health care news feeds, networking with colleagues in other practices, and working with consultants who can provide tailored solutions. This will provide you with an external perspective, something valuable as you consider various opportunities. Keeping a pulse on the industry will help you to make knowledgeable, strategic decisions that will benefit your practice, patients, and team.

YOUR TURN: What other tips do you have for new practice administrators to be successful? We'd love to hear your suggestions. Please leave your comment in the section below. 

1 Comment

  • LoAnn Vande Leest said

    The one thing I'd add to your list of 5 is developing your network within the industry — use all of the many resources available so you can tap into those who have experience and are willing to share it!

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