Published 10/1/2010
Kimberly Anderson, MHA

Translational etiquette

Carry your golf-course manners to the office

All golfers, whether beginners or experts, follow basic rules of etiquette on the golf course. This same code of conduct can be transferred to the physician’s office to maintain a productive and respectful work environment. The following tips will keep your office running smoothly.

Replace your divots
If you take the last of the supplies, inform the appropriate person what supply replacement needs to be ordered. If you’ve had a run-in with a staff member, do damage control—acknowledge and apologize for your actions and articulate your position in a professional tone. Repairing the divot you have created can go a long way in improving the office environment.

Tee up your staff
Take advantage of opportunities to provide public praise, recognition, or professional development. Elevating a staff member keeps the stars on your team motivated. Demonstrating your appreciation is a simple yet powerful act that can build staff loyalty.

Wait to swing
Keeping an appropriate distance between you and the group ahead of you on the golf course requires patience. Practicing patience in a fast-paced practice environment with competing priorities can be difficult; however, it is critical, especially when you are upset. Use the 24-hour rule before lashing out in an e-mail or confronting someone in person. Your message will be more effective if you’re able to articulate it in a professional, respectful tone.

When you hit your golf ball onto another fairway on the course, you yell “Fore!” to warn other players. Similarly, when you make an error in the office, you should let your staff know. Physicians and staff are human beings; accidents and mistakes do and will happen. Instead of fixating on the error, focus on finding a solution to avoid making the same mistake again.

Acknowledging mistakes, rather than blaming others or sweeping the problem under the carpet, encourages everyone in the office to take ownership of their actions and helps develop a culture of accountability.

These tips will help you get closer to celebrating a hole in one!

Kimberly Anderson, MHA, is chief administrative officer, orthopaedics, UC Davis Health System and a member of the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives.