Ultimate management strategies: Building a better team and taking back your time

Feb. 20, 2014
Great management means creating the space you would want for your professional development for your employees.

By Paul Edwards

What makes some practice owners successful, while others struggle? Unfortunately, it's not just whether you are a top-notch clinician. It's also the strength of your team.

There's simply no substitute for learning how to find, hire, and retain the right people if you want a practice to succeed. But it's still all about you in the long run: who you hire and how you manage and prioritize.

So how do you improve your own team-building and management skills and processes?

It starts with learning to focus on what matters most, and applying that focus at the most timely moment. In a December 2013 Harvard Business Review article, "The Focused Leader," Daniel Goleman writes, "‘Cognitive control' is the scientific term for putting one's attention where one wants it and keeping it there in the face of temptation to wander."

In my experience, exercising cognitive control requires that your ongoing management conversation -- the day-to-day interactions you have with the structure, running of, and the employees within your team -- does not distract you from focusing on the "larger picture" and the direction you want to take your business.

Yet, as you might imagine, thinking of employees and management needs as a "distraction" is not a healthy management conversation. It implies that the very thing you need in order to maintain and grow your business -- great employees -- is also the No. 1 thing that holds you back. Postponing management actions that need to happen today until tomorrow is similarly unhealthy.

Ok, so what do you do? The answer requires focus and balance. You cannot build a skyscraper on a swamp and expect it to stand. Similarly, employers will undermine their personal and business goals if they fail to install the proper foundations for hiring and managing.

Therefore, part of the cognitive control I mentioned earlier has to be focusing on the right aspects at the right times -- to buy yourself more time overall to focus on the future. This also ensures that you can focus energies on finding long-term solutions to problems rather than having to slap a Band-Aid on them or trying unsuccessfully to work around them.

In essence, the better you are at hiring the right employees, strengthening your team, and helping them become efficient and self-reliant, the more energy you can redirect toward making your business better and stronger. And did I mention having the right employees in place will give you a leg up over competitors 100% of the time?

Unfortunately, this may mean letting go of those inevitable few bad apples and doing so before they have time to spoil the barrel. It also means putting more effort into retaining your strongest team members.

Great management means creating the space you would want for your professional development for your employees. That is the No. 1 best way to get great employees to stay, thrive, and do more and more of your managing for you.

Of course, even a positive management conversation has its off days. But if you have put in the groundwork -- strong hiring processes, a solid employee handbook to help protect you, and effective management tools and strategies -- and if you stay committed to dealing with issues early, it's easier to keep that overall management conversation positive and keep it from taking all your time. Then you can focus on where you want to take your business next, and you will already have the right systems and employees in place to get you there.

Want more tips and best practices for hiring, managing, and (if necessary) terminating employees? DE readers can find CEDR's Ultimate Managers Guide as a FREE download at www.cedrsolutions.com/de.

Happy managing!

Paul Edwards is the CEO of CEDR Solutions and author of the blog, HR Basecamp. Since 2006, CEDR has been the nation's leading provider of customized employee handbooks and HR solutions, helping dentists successfully handle employee issues and safely navigate the complex employment law landscape. To reach Edwards, call (866) 414-6056 or send an email to [email protected].

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