APMA News - May 2011 - (Page 64)
Small Business 101
By John Guiliana, DPM
Human Road Block Syndrome…ICD-9 911
Mary is the office manager for a two-doctor podiatry group. She just left her staff meeting with her stomach churning and her blood pressure high. Sitting alone in her office, she wonders whether Susan, a medical assistant, is going to continue to obstruct implementation of their new electronic health record system (EHR). She knows that others in the meeting showed their impatience when Susan, yet again, questioned the need for change and cautioned about the need to go very slowly or face disaster. Mary is contending with a common situation: “Human Road Block Syndrome.” Many work groups and teams have at least one of these people in their practice. In the worst cases, the human road block seems to stall the entire organization and compromises any enthusiasm others may have about changes in the practice. At one time or other, most of us operate as human road blocks, which isn’t always bad. Medical practices can effectively use them to help avoid reckless or bad decisions. Some behaviors commonly used by human road blocks include: pointing out negative or problematic aspects of a plan, process, or change; presenting their objections (sometimes thoughtful reasons, but sometimes only vague, ill-defined objections); pesisting and questioning the need for change; and stalling on doing their part, thereby slowing down the entire organization.
Dealing with the Human Road Block
Often, a human road block is otherwise a competent employee. Incompetent road blocks are a different type of problem, often best handled via standard performance review and management processes, along with disciplinary actions. They sometimes become a casualty of change. If we look deep within a human road block, what we may find is someone who is particularly adept at finding the flaws in new plans, decisions, and actions. We need to allow the road block to use that ability in a productive way. Consider having the road block do a critical analysis of a projected course of action. For example, if the practice is evaluating three EHR software programs, ask that this person analyze and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each option. It is important that we do not encourage, or even permit, the road block to take frequent “jabs” at other staff members’ ideas. For this reason, it is important to have the following policy: If you have criticisms of an approach or plan, feel free to express your concerns, but you will be expected to suggest a better idea. If the group follows this rule, you will find that even the most ardent road blocks will exercise caution. It is also important that objections expressed by the road block be taken seriously, but sometimes the road block has no valid reasons for his or her cautions or objections. At this point, further discussion will be wasteful. Listen for two forms of objection: logical or emotional. Do not allow the road block’s personal discomfort to affect or persuade others. Lastly, there are situations where the road block becomes an impediment to the practice. When this occurs, direct manager/team leader intervention is needed. Speak to the individual privately to discuss how his or her behavior is affecting others. Remember that the human road block is a style of interaction and that the person in question may not be aware that the approach is difficult for others. Medical practices are changing rapidly. Just as we need innovators, we also need people to help us reflect on our decisions and actions, and to prevent us from plunging over cliffs due to over-enthusiasm or decision-making under stress. Keep in mind that it will be far easier to channel the abilities of these people into useful action than to change them. n Contact Dr. Guiliana at Jguiliana@aappm.org.
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Human road blocks also: are usually perceived as negative and tend to frustrate others. They may face conflicts as people lose patience with them; can slow down changes or actions an organization must take; and can negatively affect morale and enthusiasm.
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But employees who are slow to accept changes can contribute by helping others reflect on their actions and decisions, and sometimes act as a “reality check” so the practice doesn’t make decisions in a flurry of excitement or emotion. On a highway, a road block can help prevent a vehicle from hurtling headlong over a cliff.
64 APMA News May 2011
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of APMA News - May 2011
APMA News - May 2011
APMA Educational Foundation Annual Giving Campaign
91st House of Delegates: Focused on the Future
Roth: To Convert or Not to Convert?
Surgical Workshops at The National Offer Hands-on Instruction
Annual Scientific Meeting Preliminary Program
Annual Scientific Meeting Registration Form
Annual Scientific Meeting Sponsors
PICA and Podiatric Medicine: Family Ties Run Deep
Attaining Parity in California
Affordable Care Act, One Year Later: Part One
Members Who Know Media
Small Business 101
APMA Out and About
Worthy of Note
New and Deceased Members
2011 Call for Awards Nominations
Dates to Remember
APMA News - May 2011