Curb chaos by carefully tracing its path

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in Your Office Coach

Question: "Employees in our office are becoming increasingly irritable with one another. We work in a very busy medical practice where every patient visit requires that several people record information on the patient’s chart. These entries must be detailed and timely.

"When information is missing or incomplete, the person with the patient has to stop everything and go find the one who handled the chart last. These interruptions occur throughout the day and waste a lot of time. They also create a great deal of frustration.

"I believe this confusion is caused by employees who haven’t developed organized work habits. How can we run this office more efficiently and stop being so snippy with each other?" Concerned Co-worker

Answer: To combat this chaos, you must first figure out whether the problem stems from the people or the process. If one employee repeatedly mishandles a required step in a well-defined workflow, that’s an individual performance issue. The solution is personal coaching and corrective action.

But if files are continually flying back and forth, with frequent erroneous entries, you may be suffering from a poorly-designed work process. This is a common problem in growing organizations, where procedures randomly evolve over time with no particular strategy or plan.

To evaluate your current process, engage your co-workers in creating a diagram that illustrates every single step in handling patient information. Once the roadblocks and inefficiencies are identified, the group should be able to outline a more effective approach. If management approves this proposal, both the charts and the relationships should soon be flowing more smoothly.

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