Collaborating with Colleagues: The Key to Physician Recruitment Success

Collaborating with Colleagues-By: Allison McCarthy, MBA

These days, the words, “If only…” resounds within physician recruitment. If only… “Practice management would communicate their open positions sooner…”  If only…”Marketing took a more active role in creating physician recruitment promotional materials.” If only… “Our colleagues would learn to collaborate.”

Sound familiar?  If so, you’re not alone. The good (and bad) news is that a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Why Strategy Execution Unravels – and What to Do About It” (LINK) reported that cross-functional reliability is a significant challenge in all types of business.  Based on their survey, the authors cited that only 9% of participating managers said they can rely on colleagues in other functions for support – resulting in delayed deliverables and missed opportunities.

We see that too, right?  Lack of support, stalled actions by others and insufficient resources influences physician recruitment results. So what’s the solution?  A positive culture, clearly articulated priorities and what the HBR calls “distributed leaders” drives a collaborative working environment.

Senior leadership sets the tone for the culture.  If leaders are more “fear-based,” they create an environment that’s territorial and tends to have a “pass-the-buck” mentality.  If leaders lack focus and build priorities on sand instead of stone, they create a culture that “hunkers down” and protects their turf.  If, on the other hand, an organization’s senior team has a clear vision and a “roll-up-your-sleeves” approach, they inspire a cooperative, cross-functional culture that leads to success.

According to the article authors, it’s not just senior leadership who has an impact.  Distributed leaders are mid-level managers who cement the culture throughout the organization. In our world, that would mean having supportive colleagues in practice management, marketing, medical staff services, finance and probably a few others. These mid-level leaders can ensure teamwork is the organization’s “way of working”.

How can we influence a change through our roles?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Print out a copy of the article and draft a cover note describing how you see this impacting your world?  Rather than “point fingers,” take the position that improved results would be there “if only… ”
  • In reports and other communications, acknowledge a mid-level leader who has been supportive of physician recruitment.  Include a specific example of what was done and the impact it had to bring the point home.
  • Think of ourselves as a “distributed leader”.  As Gandhi expressed so eloquently, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Have another suggestion – drop me a note or leave a comment! There are no easy fixes to this challenge; the more ideas we have to work with, the more likely we can shift those patterns in a positive direction.

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