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Ask a Practice Manager: What advice would you give your younger self?

With age and experience comes great wisdom. Bearing that in mind, we posed the following question to GP Practice Managers - if you could go back in time, what advice would you share with your younger selves?


By far the most common theme to emerge was the importance of team work. The role of Practice Manager can sometimes feel like a lonely place, and much of the advice we received mentioned utilising the knowledge of fellow PMs, communicating with your practice team and ensuring that if you need help, you ask for it. After all, no man is an island.


The importance of listening

Our second most common theme was listening. This is often an underrated skill - listening well is an art form. How many people can honestly say that they actively listen when they are talking to their employees, and not thinking about what’s for tea or what they need to pick up on the way home. We all do it, and we could all do it better.

One very successful and experienced Practice Manager told us to expect life to not be fair, to get used to it and learn to handle disappointment. Although initially this advice might seem to be rather negative, if you think about it, it’s hard to imagine a world where you are never disappointed.

My dad, also a GP Practice Manager, had a motto growing up: “Things are never so bad that they can’t get worse”. Similarly, this isn’t meant to be all doom and gloom, but actually about thinking positively about failure and always being prepared for something else to go wrong. If you can handle the bad times, you will surely be able to lead your team into good ones.


Sweating the small stuff

Another theme that emerged was not to worry about “the small things”, because in the end, they’re all small things. This well-thought-out phrase was echoed by another Practice Manager who told us she works in “compartments”, meaning that she has learnt to deal with certain aspects of her role at different times.

If you are thinking and worrying about everything that is happening at once, you will easily become overwhelmed. By focusing on one aspect of your work at a time, you’ll be able to deal with individual aspects more efficiently and confront the rest another day.  

Leading a team of people is never easy, but it certainly has its great points. Seeing somebody develop and grow in front of you, thanks in part to you, is something that most managers never get tired of. Another Practice Manager mentioned how it can be bittersweet to develop somebody, but then see them go on to develop their careers elsewhere. It can be hard to part with great team members, but seeing them develop into great leaders themselves starts your legacy.


Learn to expect the unexpected

Finally, it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there will still be new surprises, new situations and new developments in the ever-changing world of Primary Care. Here’s to plenty more years learning more about ourselves and this wonderful world we work in.

Thank you to everyone who replied to us when we asked you to share your advice – and if you think we’ve missed anything important, don’t forget to let us know in the comments or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


New PMs can hit the ground running with access to an FPM subscription, which comes with access to an invaluable HR helpline, toolkits, job descriptions and a comprehensive Policy Library including a Practice Manager Induction Checklist.
Find out about the benefits of membership here!


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