If you do plan to use the 360-degree program, pay a professional (consultant, trainer, career coach) to administer it. For starters, these folks customize the questions to target your practice. Woods literally sat down to write out all the dysfunctional behaviors he’d seen in his medical career, then sorted them into categories to create seven top traits doctors need to be effective bosses in their world:
-the ability to seek win-win outcomes
-consistent respect for all individuals
-the interest in developing others (e.g. actively
teaching nurses more about specific disease issues)
-being open to change
Woods’ 360-degree program concentrates on these skills alone, and then Doctors in Touch uses the feedback to develop a coaching/mentoring program for the physician to shore up weaknesses. This step, says Blackwell, is crucial. “People make two mistakes with 360: They don’t educate employees on the process and they hand somebody the feedback report and say, ‘Go develop yourself and let us know how you make out,’” he says. “This should be a launching point to determine an individual’s core needs, and then construct an action plan that targets those gaps”
The rest of the story
However, physicians can’t survive on tests alone, says Bernhoff Dahl, MD, the author of Optimize Your Life (Wind-Breaker Press, 2003) and a retired pathologist who lives in Winterport, Maine. He built a 12-physician pathology practice by hiring people in tune with his synergy model. “We never fought over power, money—the only thing we fought over was how to define a summer in Maine so we could get our vacation schedule!” he says.
That means, of course, that physicians must be the ones to confront bad boss colleagues within their groups, not the employees, Katz interprets. Dahl agrees. “My problem over the years: I believe so much in synergy I would allow things to go on. I’d move physicians from one hospital to another trying to make things work. That was a mistake,” he says. “Not everybody fits in—sometimes people simply have to be fired.”
Still, Hogan holds out little hope that MDs as a rule will accept the message that they lack good leadership skills in the first place. “They’re quite arrogant,” he says. Most consultants, even those with medical degrees, sadly agree, though in more sugar-coated terms.
But while Dahl can put names to that accusation, he points the finger at risk tolerance. “Many people want to change, yet a vast majority will not take the risk,” he says. To illustrate: He once flew to Los Angeles to attend a personal awareness seminar. Before returning, he sat at the airport writing letters to each of his associates expressing his appreciation. “It was just short of ‘I love you.’ They were so uncomfortable only two of the 11 ever thanked me for the note. One did say, ‘We can’t send Bernie to California any more,’” he says.
Will you be among those pioneers, or remain lumped in with the masses losing both money and face?
Julie Sturgeon is an Indiana-based free-lance writer and a regular contributor to UO.