Over the years I have mentored many practitioners. I am aware that to develop your people takes time and patience as well as a consistent approach where respect, mutual expectation and understanding are built. The primary role of the mentor is to assist others to improve performance and grow professional! The role is about providing feedback and developing a relationship upon which trust will grow. With trust, your ability to be an effective mentor will be enhanced. Do not have the expectation that because you have authority people will listen or engage with you as this is a mistake. A mentor mentee relationship is one of mutual respect.
Spending time on this role is the key to the development of a successful, sustainable and profitable practice as it is by the work and engagement of those who work with you that your practice will grow and thrive.
One needs to have some credibility to be a competent and effective mentor. In a service business, be it in health or another industry, having some “runs on the board” is essential. In other words having been a practitioner yourself who has had to grow a practice, has had to develop a referral base and who has taken the opportunities for professional development will be the “runs on the board” I speak of. To make engagement effective it helps to have “real life stories and experiences to draw from. These will assist you to add value and gain the engagement you will need. As we have stated respect comes from the development of trust.
This will come from:
- Meeting commitments
- Clarifying expectations
- Open and honest communication.
This communication from you will be both caring and supportive and at times more courageous where you deliver clear and honest messages about perfromance.
The need for training does not imply that those you engage have not had some formal teaching or technical training. Depending on the experience they have had and the time since they graduated from their academic education they may bring many skills and abilities to the business. There are however many aspects that will be underdeveloped particularly in the commercial and business domain. Most colleges and universities do not prepare people in an understanding of appropriate commercial behaviours one needs to be successful in any private practice. Having technical knowledge does not always mean that practitioners understand clinical reasoning and how to manage their patients and practice. There is a difference between treating patients and managing them.
We can recommend that you develop some sort of directory that stores the teaching resources that you will develop yourself, acquire from other places and maybe even engage a consultant to develop for you. One method of managing such resources is to develop and intranet that sits as a private part of your web site. An intranet is secure for your people to access via a password and when administered well will assist you to keep your documents up to date. An intranet is a living thing and needs to be updated and developed regularly so it is current for the day. Your aim is to develop greater independence in your practice culture.
It is important to create a clear table of contents so the relevant documents can be accessed quickly and easily. This can also be facilitated by having a search function as part of the system. Categorising the documents is also necessary. Think of the broad areas that will need to be taught such as:
Clinical and Commercial documents and then sub categories thus:
- Relationship Marketing
- Patient management
- Forms and policies i.e leave forms, sexual harassment policy
- OH and S manual
- Procedures i.e stock system, billing procedures, item analysis etc
- Practice building and growth
- Leadership and management
The task may seem onerous to develop a good teaching system but take your time and try and add documents sequentially and you will get there!
Key Points To Remember
• Set the agenda for discussions
• Make the time to meet regularly
• Create and understand mutual expectations and ensure they are met
• Make sure the objectives they set are theirs and not just what you want
• Help them develop a formal plan including their clinical and commercial objectives
• Illustrate with lots of stories from your experience to make the time you spend more interesting and engaging
• Develop some teaching resources that will assist them with learning about the importance of commercial success