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I’m Not the Most Important Staff Member

I’m Not the Most Important Staff Member

I’m the Least Important

Some managers believe they are important and that their hospital can’t do without them. It may be just a thought they have, or it may be because they don’t allow others to do their job. They always have their hand in the mix. If this is you, you likely have the wrong impression or you’re not empowering your staff enough. As hard as it is for some of us to understand or accept, managers are the least important staff members in the hospital. At least, we should be!

Here are a couple of quick scenarios.

Think about them and you make the call. Are you really as important as you think you are, or are you doing too much of someone else’s job? Maybe this is an opportunity to look at what you do and what you can allow others to take from you.

If you suddenly lose an experienced Veterinary Technician due to illness or some other reason, the other technicians are the ones that feel the “hit”, through skipped lunch breaks, delayed bathroom opportunities, double workload trying to account for the missing staff member, or maybe staying extra late. “Extra” late because we all know, technicians almost always stay late.

If a receptionist staff member is out sick, not only do the other receptionists feel it, but so do the clients and likely the technicians as they have to step in and help answer the phones. Often the result is increased wait times for clients in the reception area or on the phone. Maybe the phone doesn’t get answered quickly enough and the client assumes you’re too busy for new clients and decide to give the clinic across town a call.

If you’re running boarding services in your hospital and have a kennel technician out, you will likely need to move other staff around to cover the boarding animals. If not, animals will not get the attention they need and deserve. They may not be fed on schedule, and other departments in the hospital may suffer as a result. Of course, this is also the day when everyone needs a bath and will be picked up early in the morning. We’ve all been there.

What about Doctors? Phone calls to clients asking them to reschedule or move to another doctor, upset clients for those you couldn’t get on the phone, and of course now you’re overstaffed in all other areas because the Doctor’s out, but you still have all the staff. So, unless we are able to get a replacement for them immediately, it is likely staff and clients alike will feel the difference.

As for management, if you’re out sick, stuff still gets completed or pushed off until you return, maybe without anyone even noticing it happened. Sure, the staff may miss you, and it is likely you do things others don’t, such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivables, or even Paychecks, but it’s probably not stuff that can’t wait a day or two; anesthetic monitoring, administering vaccination, bathing dogs, checking clients out or completing dentals. You may send out collection letters a day late, or you may not finish the staff schedule for a day. You may even miss a Manager’s Group or Continuing Education event you’ve had scheduled for a month, but work will go on without you.

It Can Be Humbling (or Painful)

It can be a very humbling experience to return to work after a two-day absence from being ill and learning that things still went smoothly without you. Clients were still seen on time, staff was able to get their lunch, everyone showed up, and the computer that was giving staff trouble the last week is now fixed, and clients were still able to schedule appointments to be seen. As important as we think we are, someone else could come in and do our job without too much confusion. At least that’s how it should be! And, you should want it this way. Not being the most important one in the building allows you to get things done and make plans for the future of your practice. You can get more accomplished when the staff realizes they can get things done without you. And when they know you trust them they will do even more.

When you’re able to take time away from work, because you know others can survive without you, there is comfort in knowing “it’s business as usual” without you. You can go to more Continuing Educations opportunities, or make plans for the future success of the business and even take advantage of networking opportunities to potentially increase new clients to your practice, or future staff members. Things that make you hospital and you better.

If the work you do could be accomplished by someone else and you’re just not letting them, you should see if those around you can take some of them. If the stuff you do that others can’t isn’t written down in such a way that someone can walk in and take over what you’ve been doing, you should. It actually feels good to know you can get things done that only you can get done. When things go bad or wrong in the hospital, you will get the blame, but when things go well, even without you directly doing it, you’ll also get the credit. You’re ultimately the one responsible either way.

Things should be set up in such a way that, should you suddenly not be able to work at your job anymore, someone else could come in and take over for you, using your calendar, password list or user manual.

Tack Action

  1. Take some time to write down everything you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  2. Once you feel you have a fairly accurate list, put your list in order of importance in getting them done.
  3. Starting at the bottom of the list, identify those that could be accomplished by someone other than you.
  4. Once you have completed this, think of who these could be delegated to, making sure to use staff member strengths.
  5. Start delegating.

You’ll likely find about 10% off the top that you can delegate and more importantly, you’ll find that once you have started turning stuff over to others, you’ll free up some time on your own plate to begin working on things that you haven’t had time for in the past.

For more information on how to get what you do in writing for someone else, should it need to be needed, read our article on doing so here (coming soon).

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