The Art of Effectively Supporting Your Weight Loss Practitioner: A Guide for You & Your Team
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Originally, this blog was titled ‘The Art of Delegation for a Thriving Weight Loss Practice’. However, rather than delegation from the top down, we decided to focus on what isn’t taught in school, yet positively impacts job satisfaction, employee retention, and faster practice growth. This guide is designed specifically for weight loss practitioners and team members with these goals top of mind.
A weight loss practice that allows the physician to focus on patient care, optimal patient outcomes and visionary strategy is ideal. This is their genius zone and typically, why they decided to become practitioners and specialize in weight loss in the first place. However, all too often, the practitioner is pulled into situations and decisions that could (and should) be managed efficiently by someone else.
If you are the practitioner and this is the case in your practice, you are not alone. You know how exhausting it is to have to make the majority of the decisions yourself. If you are a team member for such a practice, you will set yourself up for success, advancement, and higher job satisfaction if you embrace these recommendations and help to proactively optimize your practice. Thus, a win-win-win for you, your practitioner(s) and patients.
Most weight loss practices are somewhere on the continuum of contained chaos and being an enjoyable, systematized operation that is continuously improving and advancing. Even if you are in the latter group, this blog holds great reminders as you fulfill your mission and prepare for future challenges that can/will come your way — as they always do.
For the Practitioner
Having a self-directed team that functions well together, challenges each other to do better, fully supports you and your practice, demonstrates fierce loyalty and strives to do better is desirable and possible. If you have ever experienced this, you know how wonderful this feels.
It’s like a winning football team that recognizes the importance of every position and person on (and off) the field, is coachable, knows what winning looks/feels like, can efficiently move the ball down the field, can block threats to the team and their mission, can recover a fumble, earn the win, get the extra points, think strategically, perform confidently, celebrate together and recover from setbacks with renewed commitment and determination.
Your role (physician/leadership team) to ensure this happens is to clearly identify what success looks like in your practice. Communicate your vision and provide necessary resources and training to set everyone on your team up for success. Coincidentally, these are the same things that create loyalty and a desire to continue employment long-term. Specifically, you and your leadership team need to provide the following:
- Vision: What the future looks like for your practice.
- Specific Goals for a Set Period of Time: Goals (along with key action steps) are what will bring your vision to fruition. At minimum, clinical outcome goals, revenue goals, profit margin goals and critical number of patients/services/products to meet the financial goals.
- Core Values/Beliefs: Your expectations of what you will and won’t accept or tolerate in your practice along with great role modeling.
- Mission: Your “WHY” that makes it all worthwhile.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the Practice and Each Team Member: In order for each team member to know exactly what is expected of them.
- Education and Training: Set your team up for success and help (as necessary) create the action steps necessary for attaining their specific goals/KPIs.
- Systematization of All Aspects of Your Practice: Having a system (standard operating procedure — or SOP) for just about everything your team does helps to ensure consistent outcomes, speeds efficiency, simplifies cross-training and helps to avoid miscommunication or team confusion about what needs to get done.
- Open Communication and Mutual Respect: Your team wants to know what is expected of them. Open communication, a genuine interest in their goals/aspirations and respect for their recommendations helps to build a cohesive team that wants to support you and your weight loss practice.
Bottom line, you are clearly communicating what winning looks like for your practice and each team member while allowing them assist with determining necessary actions to make it happen which enhances their motivation and compliance. Ultimately, this provides the structure necessary for maximum practice efficiency, growth and profitability. Thus, it is well worth the effort to make it happen.
For the Team
Every person and role in a thriving weight loss practice is extremely important. As an important team member, you should feel fulfilled, challenged, valued, motivated, adequately rewarded for a job well done and committed to those you serve — patients and colleagues alike.
While you only have control over your own behavior, this is a two-way street and the outcomes mentioned will come more naturally when everyone on the team has mutual respect for each other, open communication, proper training, a problem-solving mindset and desire to do a great job. Here are some specific ways for you to help to make this happen:
- Get to Know Your Colleagues: Mutual respect and open communication comes more naturally when you get to know your colleagues. While job duties must come first, take notice of all of your co-workers, what brings them joy, major events in their life and follow-up frequently. This takes time but genuinely getting to know them helps to build strong bonds and more enjoyment at work. It is also a great way to help shy or introverted team members feel welcome and included.
- Demonstrate Open Communication and Respect: Often issues arise from mis-communication or no communication at all. You can avoid this by professionally sharing your thoughts and respecting the ideas and opinions of others. Avoiding office drama shows maturity and will help keep it to a minimum.
- Offer Your Suggestions & Problem-Solving Skills: Leaders value team members who understand the greater vision and are able to problem solve. If you observe or experience a problem, don’t be afraid to say something. When you do, offer a couple of recommendations to remedy the situation. If it is something within your area of responsibility, solve the problem and be sure to modify any SOPs that are impacted. It is always a good idea to keep your supervisor informed as well depending upon the issue.
- Be a Leader: When you have the opportunity to take the lead on a project, do it. This helps to expand your relationship with leadership, shows great initiative and demonstrates your desire to fully support the vision and goals of your organization.
- Anticipate Needs & Offer to Help: Anticipating the needs of your patients, colleagues, practitioners and practice leaders shows your proactive mindset which is greatly appreciated. Offer to help. This demonstrates your hard-work ethic and is a kind thing to do.
- Seek Feedback: Feedback from your supervisor and colleagues helps you grow and will allow you to make a bigger impact as you continue to refine your skills and knowledge.
- Ask Questions: Any time you are unsure, be sure to ask questions. Whether from your supervisor, they physician or colleagues, this shows your initiative and desire to do an outstanding job. While we learn from mistakes, asking questions can save time and avoid problems.
- Know that Physicians will Appreciate You when You Do the Following:
- Get to know their preferences and integrate this into your daily routines.
- Be self-directed when it comes to solving problems. If unsure, discuss the problem and offer at least two viable solutions.
- Be proactive when it comes to anything negatively impacting clinic operations and their schedule.
- Be efficient and avoid actions that will slow things down or negatively impact patient care.
- Be open and honest with them. They rely on you and want to have a good working relationship with you that positively impacts patient care and outcomes.
Bottom line, it is critical that all team members share the desire to support the vision of the practice as well as the practitioner(s). Coincidentally, this makes your job much more enjoyable while contributing to your personal advancement and professional growth as well.