This week’s peer advice

A board member with a professional practice was commenting on the challenges of getting staff to follow precise instructions on simple tasks such as answering the telephone. “I have given them a prepared script on what I want each person to say when they answer the telephone. I rehearse it with them and they commit to answering in the requested manner, but when I listen they have a different script. It drives me crazy! Why can’t they just do what I ask?”

The feedback from the peer advisory board was right to the point. “Perhaps it’s less important exactly how the message is delivered as long as the client gets a positive, friendly, and informative greeting. It would be more important to hire people that can do that on a regular basis.” Another member chimed in, “McDonalds hires young kids and trains them to say the exactly the same message to each client…they make robots out of the employees. That’s fine in the fast food industry but you are a professional clinic providing complicated services to sophisticated clients. You don’t want robots answering the phone; you want smart people who are able to flex with the needs of the client. Don’t try to be McDonalds!” A third member then asked, “Why try to take the personality out of the relationship that the staff is trying to build with each client?”

With those three comments, our board member was able to look at the issue from another perspective, let go of the need to precisely control the dialogue, and move toward encouraging staff to say the right things, but in their own special way.