“What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate”


This is a famous line out of a great movie “Cool Hand Luke,” and while it was said in a bit of a threatening way in the movie, it has always stuck with me as a truism in almost any management difficulty I have encountered.

Here are some of the symptoms of a failure to communicate in a practice:

  • You as the owner feel that everything is on your shoulders
  • Staff feel a bit bounced around in terms of duties
  • Disagreements between staff, or between staff and owner
  • Tempers flaring on occasion (or a lot)
  • Frustrations with staff
  • Frustrations with owner
  • Staff not aware of owner’s goals for the practice
  • Staff leaving sticky notes for each other
  • Patients upset with staff or owner
  • Staff and/or owner upset with certain patients
  • No or minimal expansion of the practice.

One of the keys to a successful practice is frequent and wide-open communication at every level of the practice.  Pretty much everything we deal with in life and at the practice requires communication.  And most of us are NOT mind readers.

If communication does not occur, people tend to invent data to fill the void, so it is better to keep everyone well informed as to what is going on and also to allow staff to have input.  More communication is always the solution, not less.

Potential Management Solutions:

  • Staff meetings – let everyone communicate in turn
  • Keep all communications as upbeat as possible
  • Morning huddle coordination meetings
  • Owner evaluations done one-on-one with each staff
  • Staff evaluations done one-on-one on the owner
  • Open door policy during “Owner’s Executive Time”
  • Shifts overlapping slightly for passing over vital info
  • Institute patient feedback surveys and fix what comes up
  • Publish goals, mission statement, etc. for the practice.

It takes everyone being in tune with each other to keep expansion going and communication is the key to this.  Implement each of the above solutions and watch your practice expand.

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