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Ted Grudzinski / AMA

Strike a balance as a boss

In a small office, everyone knows each other personally but must work together professionally. How can physicians make sure staff relations are appropriate?

Posted June 20, 2012

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Cindy Daly, MD, an otolaryngologist in Leonardtown, Md., says she prefers her office to have a "family atmosphere." But she says the office "does need rules. I try to focus on mutual respect and understanding." She's clear with staff about her expectations and her fairly crisp personal style. "I'm not good with someone who cries if I criticize them."For many physicians, finding, managing and retaining an office staff that is collegial, cooperative and efficient is essential to success. Being too personal with staff can be a problem. But so can a lack of communication. A limit in contact between many physicians and their support staffs can create tension and divisiveness and cause a drop in patients as the air thickens with unspoken issues and unaddressed conflict."Doctors will go months without speaking to their staff because it's so much easier to send an email to their practice manager, but it doesn't work," says Terry McGeeney, MD, president and CEO of TransforMED, a subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians that helps physicians manage staffs and patients. "For a very, very successful practice, the staff's morale is essential. If the doctor is feeling worn out or having a bad day, the staff will be rallying around him or her."

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