7 Ways to Achieve Sustainable Practice Growth

You might’ve heard the saying, “Success is an inside job.” Similar sentiments have graced the pages of self-development books, made their way into motivational speeches, and popped up as ‘quote art’ posts in your social media feed. Why so popular? It comes down to control—or at least the perception of it. When we view success as something that depends upon our ability to improve our own habits and beliefs, we feel empowered to overcome external events or circumstances that might hinder our efforts. We can create the practice growth that we want—we just have to work on ourselves and how we respond to those external circumstances.

From the Inside, Out

Physicians and staff often seek to grow their practices via external methods, like implementing new software or designing new workflow processes. However, these external fixes are often just Band-Aids that mask deeper issues that physicians and staff need to work on, warns Shawn Khan, MD, MBA, who spoke to ophthalmologists about business and team management (and ophthalmology clinic software) at last year’s ASCRS·ASOA Annual Symposium and Congress.

Yes, regulatory changes, the state of the economy, the latest productivity reports, and other external factors affect your success, but serious practice growth also requires you and your staff to be aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits so that you show up as the best you can be and contribute to the growth of your practice. “Inner imbalance can compromise the very success and achievement it was intended to further,” says Khan.

“Nine percent or less of your success is predicted by your IQ.”—Shawn Khan, MD, MBA


7 Ways to Spark Practice Growth and Personal Development

To achieve that success, you must incorporate different ways of growing your eye care practice. Ways that have more to do with how you and your staff interact with one another and with your work, and less with the kind of ophthalmic software you’re using. Not sure where to start when it comes to growing your practice from the inside out? Give your practice a jump start with these ideas from Khan:

Get into ‘flow.’

When you experience flow, you voluntarily work hard towards something that you feel is meaningful. You feel that time is distorted—hours seem like minutes because you focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand. People who feel flow at work are more likely to achieve results. “They’re happier and they’re less likely to leave the practice,” says Khan.

Wondering if your work could inspire flow? Ask these questions:

  • Is my work worthwhile and challenging?
  • Do I have clear, achievable goals?
  • Are there clear rules for accomplishing work I’ve been assigned?
  • Does my work provide regular feedback so I know how I’m doing?
  • Do I have the skills to do my work?
  • Can I concentrate on my work without distraction?
  • Do I have enough control over the work?

“Trust increases recruitment and retention,” says Khan.

If you’re a practice administrator or physician-owner, make sure to say the word “retention” whenever you mention “recruitment.” This small adjustment demonstrates to staff that you have their best interests in mind, instills trust within them, enhances communication, and motivates staff to stay with your practice for the long-haul. Plus, doing this consistently demonstrates that you’re predictable, which also engenders trust and loyalty within staff.

Always explain the reasoning behind your decisions.

For example, if you require a 10-day post-op period for SLTs, explain why that’s so important and how it contributes to the practice’s growth. Explaining your decisions helps build trust among your staff, which improves communication and builds more trust, which in turn contributes to practice growth.

“Positive emotions contribute to success,” says Khan.

When you cultivate feelings of optimism, hope, kindness, resilience, gratitude, and forgiveness in your staff, they’ll feel more satisfied in their career.

Create opportunities for your staff to network with each other and with staff from other practices.

Send them to a conference. Ask your EHR vendor if they hold user group meetings and/or if there’s an online forum where customers can ask questions and share ideas. For physicians, network with other eye care practitioners and non-eye care health services in your area. Ask other physicians how they create growth in their practices. But don’t network just to get ideas and answers for yourself. Khan says, “Your network flourishes by what you contribute to it, not by what you draw from it. It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”

Strive to understand your boss.

What are her goals? Keep him informed of how you’re contributing to your practice’s growth and how the practice is doing. Hiding things or masking data does not give employees job security. Scared to talk to your boss? Remember Khan’s words: “Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.”

Know thyself.

During his ASCRS session, Khan discussed the concept of self-monitoring, a theory that characterizes personality based on a person’s ability to adapt their words and actions to a particular situation or person. We all self-monitor in varying degrees. Someone with a high-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously), “What does this situation require of me? How should I behave in this situation?” while someone with a low-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves, “Who am I and how can I be myself in this situation?” Neither is particularly good or bad, but knowing which one you and your staff members lean towards is helpful in improving communication.

“Effective leaders create work cultures that inspire and enable high performers,” says Khan. Practice growth begins with improving communication with and between your staff, adjusting your mindset about work, getting clarity on your personality and strengths, and creating a more positive work environment for your staff.

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