Assuming Leadership of an Oncology Practice Team: Strategies for Better Success

Jason Lockard, CMOM
Regional Practice Administrator
Beaumont Medical Group
Southfield, MI
Bettinna Signori, CMOM-HEM/ONC
Regional Practice Administrator
Beaumont Medical Group
Southfield, MI

The majority of leadership opportunities currently available in the medical practice community require individuals to be responsible for the operations of previously established businesses and teams. As a result, new and seasoned leaders alike are often finding themselves facing unique challenges as they navigate the nuances of assuming leadership of existing practices. This transition can be equally challenging for the staff members. In this article, we offer some strategies you can use to facilitate the process.

Be Physically Present

One of the greatest mistakes that individuals make when assuming leadership of new teams is shying away from some of the tasks that need to be done. One reason this may occur is because they are not yet familiar with the operations of the practice. Don’t let this be a deterrent. Being physically present to provide encouragement or perform routine tasks can increase engagement, boost morale, and help team members feel more confident in your ability to lead.

Take Time to Get to Know the Team

Taking the time to get to know the team members early on is critical to effective leadership. By doing so, you will build healthy professional relationships that promote a better understanding of the staff’s communication preferences, career goals, and expectations. One of our former colleagues created a questionnaire to garner this kind of information from team members. Once the questionnaire was completed, they sat down with each person individually to review their responses and learn more about them.

Show Staff Members That You Support Them

Take the initiative to support your new team. Roll up your sleeves and register a patient or answer the phone. When your staff members see that you are willing to do the work that needs to be done, they will be more likely to return the favor. However, you must be careful to not let anyone take advantage of the situation. If taken to the extreme, this strategy could cause some individuals to depend on you to routinely complete tasks that are their responsibility. You will need to walk a fine line between your assistance being the expectation rather than the exception.

Quick Wins

Does the practice need a new printer? Is a process not working or taking too much time? Does a staff member require additional coaching to become a more effective part of the team? These are all scenarios where a new leader can make quick work of a small problem, resulting in a significant difference in the professional lives of team members.

Ask for Feedback

Genuinely ask for feedback—both positive and constructive. This can help you quickly assess how your actions, or lack thereof, may be affecting your team. Are there things previous management did that your team misses and would like to continue? Is there something you have done that has led to positive results and your team appreciates?

When you receive constructive feedback regarding a situation, take the time to address it and then follow up with the individual who raised the concern. This willingness to receive feedback will bolster confidence and foster an open loop of communication for the future.

Look, Listen, and Learn

The first 90 days of leadership are critical. During this time, it is essential that you carefully observe how your team operates. This will provide you with a framework for improving operations. It will also afford you the opportunity to ask questions as to why specific processes or procedures have been implemented. Too often, managers rush to make changes without taking the time to understand why things are done in a certain way. By allowing for a period of observation, you can show team members that you are taking the time to gain important insights about the practice, which may result in them being more open to changes that you propose in the future.

Conclusion

The initial period of assuming leadership of a medical practice can be stressful for everyone involved. Typically, the longer the duration of the previous leader’s tenure, the longer it will take for staff members to adapt to someone new, so be patient with them—and yourself. Approaching the situation with empathy and wisdom, as well as implementing the strategies discussed in this article, can help you enjoy greater success as you lead your new team forward.

Article provided through a partnership with
Practice Management Institute
and
Michigan Society of Hematology & Oncology

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