I thought we discussed this …?

Practice owner:  “I distinctly remember giving you the order two weeks ago to order those supplies.”

Staff member:  “No, you didn’t, I would remember if you had and I would have done it.”

“Yes, I did tell you to do it.”  “No, you didn’t!  Don’t blame it on me.”

Fighting words that cannot be taken back, and neither side wins that argument.

Why?  What’s wrong with this picture?  You delegated like you are supposed to, didn’t you?

Ever heard the famous saying, “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true?”  This is one of those moments when the saying couldn’t be truer.  Efficiency experts know that a lot of time can be wasted waiting for verbal orders to be complied to, only to find that they were never carried out, sometimes resulting in a disaster.

Here is a very simple time-saving system that can help you prevent this massive waste of production time.

1.  When you give an order, do it in writing, be very specific, ask for a reply and give a date for it to be done by.  For example, “Please call our software company and ask them to quote on the latest upgrade and send this order back to me with a note to let me know that it was done and what happened.  Please have this done by 4 days from now.”

2.  The order can be handwritten or done on the computer but you must make a copy of it.

3.  Give the original to the staff member.

4.  Keep the copy in an “Orders Pending” file folder on your desk.  When you get the compliance report back, you can match it with the copy you kept and destroy both, if the order was satisfactorily completed.

5.  Once a week, on your Executive Time (hint, you are supposed to have a period of time each week that is devoted to management of the practice) you should go through this file as a habit and see if there are any uncompleted orders lurking still.  If there is one (or more), follow up with the staff member to find out what is happening.  Work out a solution to getting it done and put a fresh date.  Put the order back in the file noting the new date that it is to be done by.

7.  If you still don’t get compliance, there are a few things that could be wrong and you should check for these:

(a)  Does the staff member concerned have a job description and does it clearly state the purpose of her job?  Does she understand this purpose?  Does she see that the order you gave falls within her job description (if it does – if not, this is your “bad” and you should give it to the person who it DOES belong to as an order)?

(b)  Ask her or him what’s happening with the order.  Clear up anything not understood about it.

(c)  Did the person need training to carry out the order, and if so, did they get it?

You sometimes have to be very patient and you may find it hard not to just do it yourself, but if you do, you have failed the boss and persistence tests.  Given that you have hired the right staff member in the first place, then it is a matter of pushing through and getting your orders complied to and it will all come out alright!

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