If you want something done right, have other people do it

The line, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” is complete bull. To run a successful business of any kind — but especially to run a thriving medical practice — you have to make sure you’re using your time wisely and properly delegating responsibilities.

In 2019, health care is complicated. Your practice is more than just seeing patients, treating them, and sending them on their way. There’s insurance requirements, prior authorizations, quality measures, and so many other tasks that need to be completed with every patient visit.

As a business owner, especially when you’re just opening a new practice, it’s extremely hard to relinquish control and let others help out, but you simply can’t be successful and do everything on your own. You can try all you want, but you’ll just end up wasting your valuable personal and professional time and only yield subpar results because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to do it all yourself.

Now I know what you’re thinking, how do I know when I can let someone else complete a task for me? A good rule of thumb is that if someone else can do something 80 percent as well as you can — let them do it.

If you need some tips on how to properly delegate, check these out:

Step 1: Ask your staff what others in your group aren’t doing that you are.

Before you do this, explain to your team that you need their help because you need to spend more time with your family, see more patients, get your charts done more efficiently, etc. If you just ask, “Hey, what else can you do that I’m doing?” the results will be crickets. But if you share the why and how you need their help, the results will be eye-opening.

Step 2: Figure out what you, with your level of training and expertise, are capable of doing and make sure that everything you’re asked to do is tested against that.

Step 3: Ask yourself as you’re completing a task: “Does this bring me personal joy or professional fulfillment?” If not, how do you feel? Could someone else do this task 80 percent as well ask you can?

Step 4: If the answer is yes, then decide who can do it and train them how. The best way to sabotage yourself is to dump a task on someone else without any explanation, and once they mess it up, you tell yourself that you’re obviously the only one capable.

Step 5: Give feedback. Yes, the “F-word” that doctors actually don’t like using. Try, “Hey, it really helped me last week when you took on _____. I know I previously did that myself, but now I’m able to _____, and that makes a big difference to my family’s time. Thanks!” or “Hey, I know I asked you to do _____. And I think I need to do a better job of showing you how I would like it done. Instead of _____, can you try _____. Thanks!”

Now remember, if you’re asking others to take on responsibilities for you, there are certain things you need to keep in mind:

Don’t expect perfection. Remember, you’re only looking for 80 percent perfection here. Keep in mind, all you need is for tasks to be completed correctly and for all your goals to be met. That’s it.

Communicate clearly. Your employees know you, trust you, and want to make you proud, but they can’t read your mind. If you aren’t 100 percent clear about your expectations, it’s impossible for them to meet those expectations.

Don’t micromanage. It’s OK to oversee the completion of tasks, but don’t be overbearing. Part of delegating tasks to your employees is making sure they feel like you trust them to complete the task as well as you could.

Be patient. It’s important to understand that a task you understand backward and forward may take you half the time it takes someone else who is just learning. That’s OK! Make sure your employees know that you understand that a task may take them a little extra time, and be patient in letting them learn how to navigate it.

Give credit where it’s due. Make sure you are always expressing your appreciation and gratitude to your employees once they’ve completed a task for you. A simple: “Thank you so much for doing that, you did a great job,” goes so much farther than you

Once you build trust that your employees can meet your expectations, it’s not quite as scary to let go of the reins a little.

In fact, your employees love it when they feel entrusted with tasks. They feel empowered that you trust that they can get things done according to your high standards. And they see how it helps in the big picture of how it helps you to do better work and have a more fulfilling life at home.

Phil Boucher is a pediatrician and founder, Private Practice Matters.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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