Are you a practice administrator or department manager who is overwhelmed with work? Is your to-do list so long that you don’t even know where to begin? Do you feel like no matter how many hours you work each week that you’re always behind? Are important projects falling by the wayside because you’re dealing with minutia? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to get serious about delegating. Here’s how.
Analyze your workload. Set aside as much time as it takes to capture-in writing-everything that you typically do on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Write everything down on four separate sheets of paper or on planning board:
Daily: Review appointment schedules; conduct walk through of front office and clinical areas; bank deposit.
Weekly: Review accounts receivable; review staff schedule; prepare payroll; pay bills; order supplies.
Monthly: Staff meeting; balance bank statement; review monthly reports.
Annual: Staff performance reviews; prepare tax information for accountant; staff retreat.
On a fifth list, write down all of the non-routine projects you currently have pending. This might include things like updating your staff training manual, redecorating the reception area, upgrading your accounting software, writing a practice marketing plan, or implementing a cross-training program for the staff.
Identify what you can delegate. Go over your lists carefully and determine which tasks and projects you can turn over to someone else in the office. Who could competently handle preparing and distributing staff meeting agendas each month? Is there someone in the office who would like to learn how to analyze accounts receivable on a weekly basis and report the bottom line results to you once a month? How about assigning ordering supplies and managing inventory to one or two individuals in the office? Could you outsource marketing activities to a local practice management consultant? Try to come up with a few items that you are willing to delegate from each of your five lists.
Set expectations. When you delegate a one-off project or an ongoing task to a staff member, take time on the front end to be very clear about what you expect in terms of the outcome you’re looking for and what kind of communication you’d like to have throughout the process.
Monitor progress. Keep track of what you assign to whom and check in periodically to make sure that the work is being accomplished. That said, resist the urge to micromanage a project that you’ve turned over to someone else to take the lead on. Doing so undermines that person’s confidence and defeats the purpose of delegating, which is to free you up to focus on other work.
Communicate. Once you’ve successfully delegated an ongoing project to a staff member, make sure that the rest of the team, including providers, knows that that individual is now the person in charge. If employees and doctors continue to come to you with questions related to the task or project you’ve delegated, gently steer them in the direction of the responsible person.
Delegating is an essential skill that can be mastered, but it might take a little practice. If you find that you have trouble letting go of responsibilities, start by delegating small or low-risk tasks and then build from there. As you experience success, you’ll find that turning work over to capable employees becomes easier each time you do it.