No Job Is Too Big

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO November 22, 2013

I had the distinct privilege of growing up in a family where we were taught that no job was beneath us and where we were all expected to pitch in. Each of us had a role but we were also expected to be observant…and helpful.

Sounds like a good formula for our practices, don't you think?

I remember very clearly the day that I chose to push my toys and dirty clothes to my brother's side of the room rather than picking them up myself. Upon discovery, my father did something quite interesting. No yelling, no screaming, and no loss of privileges. What he did made a far greater impression than any of that.

He calmly sat me up on the bed and proceeded to clean up not only my stuff but my brother’s stuff too. I was not allowed to help. We proceeded to the kitchen, where once again my job was to watch as he cheerfully cleaned the table, the countertops, and even the kitchen floor. By now, I could hardly stand it, I wanted to help so badly.

To this day, it is second nature for me to pitch in and help. It is just what I do. Can you see where I am going with this story?

To really and truly offer top-notch customer service, everyone in the office must commit to the goal. Patients quickly get a sense of how well the team gets along. One of the worst things that can happen is for team members to establish artificial boundaries and refuse to look beyond their own job responsibilities. And let me say right now, that goes for the doctors too!

Now don't get me wrong, I am not recommending that unqualified folks start freewheeling in other areas. What I am recommending is that we learn how to be helpful, in a helpful way!

The first step is to develop a habit of being observant. If I don't watch for things I can do to help, I might not find any. It could be cleaning a countertop, moving a patient, verifying some glasses, making a phone call or a thousand other things. Many times just acknowledging an overwhelmed teammate can relieve their stress. All I have to do is to ask how I can help.

I believe that one of the most powerful motivators is for the doctor to demonstrate this servant's mentality. If I am willing to pitch in, and even more importantly, if they see that I am happy to is highly likely that everyone will get the idea.

To go one step farther, I have a special note to all new associate doctors:  If you want to win the approval of the senior doctor and the staff as well, remember that no job is too trivial. Be willing to take off your doctor hat and humbly make yourself part of the team!  Do what needs to be done and do it with a smile on your face.  I will assure you that this is the quickest way to elevate everyone's opinion of you.

As I See It, no job is beneath us, and that goes for doctors. We must appear as a cohesive team if we are to deliver a customer experience that will make a lasting impression. Believe me if your staff demonstrates a joy in helping each other, your patients will notice! A servant's mentality is contagious. When the doctor demonstrates the proper attitude, the staff will follow.

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