- Posted Monday February 15, 2021
Starting a new job as a Practice Manager can be overwhelming. Whether you're a first-time manager or an experienced manager taking over a new Practice, your first day is a great chance to make a positive impression and begin building credibility with your new team members. Everyone will be watching (no pressure!) so it's essential to start strong in your new role.
Whether you’re a new manager, stepping up from another role, or moving to a new GP Practice, it’s important to remember that you would not have been given this opportunity if your employers didn’t believe you were up to the job. You have worked within teams and with leaders before, and you have your own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. You know the basics of practice and people management and how to apply them, and you’ll be working with a team of people who, even if they have reservations about working with a new PM, want to be part of a successful service.
None of those things change the fact that it can be intimidating, but they are also very good reasons why you shouldn’t allow that potential for intimidation to affect you. When you first worked as a team member in a previous role, you looked to your manager to provide guidance, leadership, and direction. You expected them to help you understand your work and support you in resolving challenges. You knew they had to ensure all the various elements came together in the right way, at the right time to ensure you could get your work done as effectively as possible.
Now you’re the new Practice Manager, that’s what your team needs from you.
Meet and Greet
First days are typically awkward – you meet people, you hear names and then you end up forgetting them, no matter how hard you try. Your goal should be to commit to meeting with every team member individually during your first few weeks in the job. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth summit meeting, but just a chance to do the ‘Cilla Black’ (Blind Date? i.e. “What’s your name? Where’d you come from?”) and find out more about what they do. In time, you can expand to asking a few more explorative things:
- What's working? What should we do more of?
- What's not working? What do we need to change?
- What can I do to help you succeed in your role?
Be certain to lock in your calendar dates and to keep your appointments. Your willingness to commit to meeting with and listening to the individuals on your team is a sign that you respect them. Take good notes during the sessions and look at making some quick wins – in other words, seize upon any easy issues to fix.
Before you start planning on changing the décor, hiring a new cleaner or implementing new systems and policies, you need to know exactly how the practice is running. Take time to observe the day-to-day operations, such as rota planning, patient scheduling, as well as how the staff interacts with clinicians, patients, and each other. If you notice patients aren’t being seen on time, or staff are spending too much time on paperwork, make a note of it.
With any new role, you will start with some doubts, some aspects of the job that you question, or that you think might cause problems. However, you should also remember to have confidence in your abilities – it is important that your new team sees a leader who not only believes they can succeed, but who is prepared to say that and act upon it.
That doesn’t mean being unrealistic. It does mean that you must acknowledge your doubts and concerns and be able to look past them. You must be able to look at your abilities—and at the collective abilities of the team—and believe that together you can succeed. And you must make your team believe that.
No one wants to be part of failure – if you go into this role with a positive attitude, projecting a sense of ‘being in control’ and looking forward to being able to work with this team to deliver a successful outcome, the response will be very different. The team will feed off that positive energy and start looking forward to the work ahead. Even if they didn’t know anything about this new PM, they would have an impression that the PM knew what they were doing and wasn’t worried about things.
The bottom line
Impressions matter. The way a PM is perceived by the team can set the tone right from the outset. I’m not going to pretend that a positive attitude will ensure success, but a negative one can certainly come close to ensuring failure. Yes, managing can be intimidating, especially if it is your first practice manager job, but that’s not something you should allow to overwhelm you.