President’s Perspective with Michael Patrick: Just Listen

I’ve never considered myself an amazing businessman. In fact, I’ll pretty much guarantee that you’re more credentialed than I am in lots of ways. But there’s one thing that I feel that everyone, myself included, can be reminded of:

When was the last time you just listened with intent?

And I mean in any capacity – listened to a song, listened to your employees or doctors, listened to the sounds of the office, or even the sound advice of someone you might not know? When was the last time you told someone to “go on” when they were telling you something? Hearing is easy; but listening takes attention.

I get it – you’ve got a million and one things to do in your practice with time for almost none of them. Billing issues to deal with, doctors to soothe, and patients who need to be seen are just easy guesses I can make about your “to do” list. Before you shut the window on your browser or mail client, I’d like to tell you a story about the time I needed to go in front of 12 doctors to tell them some difficult news.

Listening When Things Go Wrong
At the time, Systeem was changing some of its services, and I was asked to go to a practice to explain why these changes were being made. Now, I had some of my very best people with me at the time to help back me up technically. But I was the one principally in charge of running the presentation and discussion. This could have been a very bad meeting for us. Before agreeing to meet, there were a number of issues with a phone system that needed to be dealt with, and we expected a volley of unhappy responses — and those responses happened. As anticipated, we got hit from multiple sides, as the issue had left a bad taste in a few of the doctors’ mouths. So, in the middle of the room with my laptop on my lap, I listened. I answered what I knew, took notes, and told them I would follow up. But that very act of coming to their office and letting them just tell me what they were upset with was enough for that moment. And I’d like to say that we strengthened the bond between our companies by being there and listening. Don’t get me wrong — after we listened, we made sure that we followed through. But that’s a post for another time.

Building Trust with Your Team
I know many of you have been in this scenario, but when you extend this effort to others in your team, lasting effects can take place on both sides. For instance, when you take the time to listen to what people say or don’t say, you can learn immensely about the details of daily life at your practice. And what of the trust you build with an employee? This also has a lasting effect and can show how important another person is to the organization as a whole.

Creating a Culture of Listening Throughout Your Practice
As a leader of your practice, you help to shape the culture of your organization. Now imagine a workforce that intently listens to doctors, patients, and each other every day, without distractions. How many clerical or billing mistakes could be avoided? How many feathers would be unruffled? How smooth and calmly could the practice move if everyone took time to actively listen? Additionally, patient safety and satisfaction is also largely affected by good communication habits.

I’ve seen it here at Systeem. We do our very best to do something different for our clients. We take the time to listen. Sure, some of us are on different parts of this lesson. But it’s notable to me to share a part of our culture with you — our clients and friends. We do our very best every day to do the simple yet very important job of listening intently to issues, objectives for projects, or anything else that is on our clients’ minds. We’re an IT company, and we take support seriously.

One last point I’d like to make is what listening does for you. Yes, when you actively listen, the other party is often seen as receiving the benefit. But actively listening can also bring a sense of calm. As a personal side note, listening is something I’ve done my best to cultivate for the better part of a decade now; and it’s made me a calmer person with deeper relationships. This can be pervasive in your practice, too. But it takes time and effort to cultivate and grow. So even if you’re an amazing listener already, how can we bring this to our greater organizations? I’m sure the process is different in each individual practice. But I’ll bet it starts with a few questions and then some time listening.

Have a question, concern or idea to share with us? We're ready to listen. Call us at 940-484-0850 or send us an e-mail.