March 6, 2011
There is an art to delegation that most people prefer not to exercise for many reasons. Some of those reasons may be legitimate in the way that they serve us for the reason of explaining, but overall, finessing the art of delegation becomes a learned and valued skill that over time can save you:
- Undue stress and worry
- Time to do other things that are more worthy of your skill level
- Money from excess overtime
- Happiness by bringing back the joy of performing your job as a manager
Even though you may be a working practice manager who is actively performing a job duty such as payment or charge posting, you can still begin to flex your delegating muscles in order to relieve some of the duties you have on your plate that others can do for you and the practice.
So the real question here is why don’t you delegate more? Sometimes it could be due to a lack of trust in employees that serve under your leadership. To that, one would then ask why would you have employees that you could not trust with some other responsibilities?
There is a more serious reason that we sometimes do not delegate duties to our staff and it has to do with the need or desire to always be in control. The job can be done best if I do it myself. If that is your belief system then you will always be limited in what you are able to accomplish for the practice to the degree of your own abilities. There is a great series by David Neagle on this topic of breaking free from your need to be in control in which he discusses that the way we do one thing is the way we do everything. If you are feeling the need to be in control at work, it most likely is the way you are handling other areas of your life. It will run you and your body into the distress if you are not careful to take care of yourself.
To begin breaking this habit of doing everything yourself let’s explore some ways to invoke the “art of delegation” because it takes a creative mind to figure out ways to save the sanity, time, money and happiness that we are speaking about here. Firstly, let’s begin by listing all the job duties you perform and for that matter, list those of your employees (or better yet, delegate and have them list their job duties). This will serve as both a comprehensive list of duties and a job description list for each position you have within the office.
Think about the ways you have the need to control certain areas or departments within the office. If you are a doctor’s wife running the office, you may feel ultimately responsible for your spouse’s financial bottom line as it affects you personally. But let me go back to the skill level mention above. Think about your abilities, education and skill level. Are the duties you are performing within your skill level or are they below your skill level? If they are below your skill level then they most likely can be delegated to another employee within the office or someone outside the office.
Break those lists down into categories by tasks that are performed annually, monthly, weekly, daily and then periodically. Now, consider for a moment that if you had all the staff you needed to perform these tasks, which ones could be performed by someone else? That someone could be a vendor even or someone outside the practice. Let me give you some examples:
1. Statements – are you stuffing and mailing your own statements? These could be handled most affordably through your clearinghouse with a simple comparison of labor time, printing, supplies and stamps.
2. Electronic payment posting – We all know that Electronic Funds Transfer remits the check directly to the bank. However, are you aware that many practice management software systems can automatically post the remittance file for you (and in a matter of seconds, too)?
3. Eligibility checks – Instead of making phone calls, investigate the ability of clearinghouses and practice management software to do this for you automatically. Some of these services are actually free to use.
4. Lab results – Implementing a lab interface between you and your most common lab companies can eliminate the shuffling of papers from one desk to another by receiving them electronically.
There are other areas such as marketing, education, and social media that can be handled by someone else within or outside the office for you. Be creative by thinking of ways to get some load off your plate and give others the chance to rise to the occasion. In fact, you may have certain employees with gifts in areas of writing, public relations, or even financial abilities that can serve your practice with these new types of responsibility. You may have an employee just itching to take on more responsibility and prove or just improve their abilities.
David Neagle quotes Napoleon by stating “when I focus on the solution, the obstacle must give way” which means that when you can see the solution as being bigger and primary to the problem, then the issue (obstacle) will resolve and go away. You can find a solution because it is always closer than it seems.