Be a team member, not just a staff member

Many of the challenges related to running a practice can be overcome if the staff members act as team members. The key to offering employees ownership in the practice and a sense of belonging is employee involvement. Employees should be involved in the decision-making process and have input into what is going on within the practice.

New Orleans-Many of the challenges related to running a practice can be overcome if the staff members act as team members. In his presentation at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting, Steve Robinson, practice management consultant for Advantage Administration, said that many issues within the practice come down to the type of staff you have.

Robinson explained in his presentation, "Creative teambuilding: a recipe for success!" that there are two types of staffs: work groups and teams. A work group is "autocratic in nature, very territorial. Everything belongs to the individual, and nobody works with anyone else. There is a serious lack of communication. In that situation, they are unable to assume any risk. They are content with the status quo, and they have very little desire to excel," he said. A team, however, will "utilize the individual strengths within the organization. Team members are highly communicative; they talk to each other constantly. They are willing to assume risks, they want to achieve rewards, and they achieve what is called synergy."

To help managers identify whether a staff is a work group or a team, Robinson explained the major differences between each type of staff.

Work groups have personal agendas. Teams have a team agenda.

Teams are innovative and often come up with new ways of doing things.

"Work groups, however, are going to think, 'We're going to do it the way we used to do it or we're not going to do it at all,'" he said.

Work groups are autocratic. "They are controllers, people who want to control what's going on. Teams, however, have highly participative management-they all work together. Everyone picks up a piece of the puzzle," Robinson said.

Teams have self-starters. "These are people who can make things happen."

Work groups are kick-starters and are only motivated by something else.

Work groups are too dependent on the individual-or themselves. Teams work together to make something happen.

Perhaps most importantly, "Teams are the people who are going to step up to the plate and make it happen. Work groups are going to avoid risk at all costs, because if something goes south, they don't want to have their names tied to it," he explained.

A practice can be run best if, according to Robinson, the staff is a team. Why? "The work groups are the people who couldn't care less about your business, and the teams are the people who do care about your business."

Most organizations, Robinson said, hope to get that kind of commitment out of their staff, but many do not. He attributed that to staff members having no sense of belonging. "That's what we're really trying to achieve-an ownership in the practice," he said. "If your people don't have ownership in the practice, they couldn't care less. It's just a job for them."

The key to offering employees ownership in the practice and a sense of belonging is employee involvement. According to Robinson, employees should be involved in the decision-making process and have input into what is going on within the practice.