Archive for October, 2010
Corporate culture can be defined simply as, “The way we do things around here” or more formally as, “The way insiders behave based on the values and group traditions they hold.” Leaders who understand their corporate culture and can articulate those well help the organization:
- Foster strong feelings of personal effectiveness
- Encourage ethical behavior
- Reduce levels of job stress and tension
- Promote high levels of company loyalty
The medical field needs ethical, honest leaders, more than ever, who pride themselves in promoting patient and staff loyalty. Unfortunately, embezzlement and fraudulent billing are not uncommon. There are physicians who are not honest and ethical; they tend to hire managers to emulate their values. It’s tough on new employees, who may be told that the corporate culture is to be honest and ethical, but then accidently discover they have entered an environment of deceit.
Avoiding Unethical Scenarios in the Medical Field
Use your initial interview to ask pointed questions about corporate culture. It will help you avoid the above scenario. Sample questions:
- How is billing is monitored?
- Do they have a compliance plan in place to detect fraud?
- Are employees trained on HIPAA and Red Flag Rules?
Be very wary if the answer to any of these questions is “No.” Physicians are required to conduct compliance education for themselves and their employees. With no compliance program in place, or a faulty one, they are not only placing themselves at risk, but their employees. Are you interested in being at risk of high monetary penalties and possible legal ramifications? We’re guessing – and advise – that you probably don’t want to work for this, or any medical or healthcare organization, that doesn’t take compliance seriously.
Most of us in healthcare have encountered unethical behavior at some point in our careers. In the case of fraud, it is our duty to report it to the payors. In the case of slightly less odious actions, such as a physician asking the manager to change the compensation formula without going through proper committee or legal channels, employees are frequently left with a dilemma. Do they report the propagator to the other physicians? Do they try to handle it themselves? Do they attempt to change the culture or do they resign knowing that at least one team member is a manipulator and will likely take them down?
Consider the above-mentioned situation. If you are the manager and this occurs, as it once did to me, articulate to the physician why you can’t change the compensation formula without consensus. If they persist, report the request to the physician leader. Unfortunately, situations like this can’t be predicted based on your initiation interview. You can, however, ask about the organization’s culture:
- How do the physicians get along, settle disputes?
- Are responsibilities assigned or rotated to physicians for capital acquisitions, compliance and human resource disputes?
If the physicians are stepping up to the plate by taking on these types of administrative duties, you will know who to approach about any unethical behavior that you encounter. When there’s integrity in the leadership, it tends to pervade corporate culture, too.
”The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” –Brian Tracy
How’s your healthcare or medical practice organization’s compliance program? Derry, Nolan & Associates will assess your current status and help you implement corrections, or if needed, an entire compliance program. Start with our free, one-hour initial consultation.
You think you were perfectly clear: "Do XYZ." Your employees hear: "Do ZXY." Communication chaos is a common mistake, according to revered leadership consultant Hans Finzel. I’ve been the unsuspecting, unintentional root of confused communication; it’s easy to do.
I was managing a medical clinic years ago, and a theft occurred. To be sure (I thought) that the message was clear and consistent, I called the front desk staff together to announce what had been reported. I assured them of my belief that they were innocent, that the perpetrator was none of them.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that at least one employee felt the front desk was being singled out! My sincere attempt at assurance backfired. (The janitor was the thief, by the way, as I originally suspected.)
If only I’d known Finzel’s rules of communication:
- Never assume that anyone knows anything
- The bigger the group, the more attention must be given to communication—(I should have called the whole staff together)
- Communication must be the passionate obsession of effective leadership
- When left in the dark, people tend to dream up wild rumors!
If you’re an executive, effective, sensitive communication is essential. Everything you communicate is weighed and analyzed. If not clear, expect assumptions and extrapolations, most erroneous and possibly harmful to the organization, or at the very least, non-productive.
Effective Communication Practices
Meetings, faxes, newsletters, emails and reports – all have the potential to improve understanding and strengthen your leadership, or create communication chaos. To avoid it, try the following:
- Use organizational charts to ensure proper communication channels – who reports to whom and who is in charge of what
- Meet regularly with your staff; allow and encourage tough, direct questions
- Use e-mail to keep communication fresh and up-to-date (faxes, too)
- Keep memos brief and to-the-point
- Include one page summaries on lengthy reports
- Use meeting time effectively and efficiently (read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni – excellent “how to”)
“Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” – Sydney J. Harris, Publishers-Hall Syndicate
Derry, Nolan & Associates’ pairs our deep healthcare experience with personalized evaluations to give your healthcare organization or medical practice the medical practice consulting services you need.