Miriam Lieber is president of Lieber Consulting in Sherman Oaks, Calif., specializing in operations management and reimbursement for the HME industry. She can be reached at 818-789-0670 or email@example.com.
In today’s HME environment, finding the right cast of characters is the name of the game. Which of your employees fits in and which ones need to find another position within or outside your organization? The days of keeping staff because they have been there forever are over. There’s no room for low performers or even mediocrity. Staff must begin to show their value in quantifiable and productive ways.
Measuring and Positioning
Determining an employee’s value can be done through accountability measures. How many accounts do they work? What is their DSO? What is your CPAP compliance percentage? These are a few of many ways to quantify performance. Even with all of these measures, you must still determine if the right people are in the right places. For example, is customer service staff able to juggle the whirlwind of work thrown at them at once? How are they with changes like asking for all documentation before dispensing product? Are they truly multitaskers who think on their feet or do they need a more methodical job? If they need a job where they complete one task before starting another, they do not belong in customer service/intake.
Searching for the Leaders
Among your staff, who takes initiative to implement change, especially by way of automation? For example, if you continue to perform tasks such as checking eligibility or verifying or filing CMNs manually, is there anyone who has said “isn’t there an easier way of handling this?” If so, these are the mid level performers, those that not only see a problem but they know they need resolution. The high level performers are those that actually find not only the issue but find the solution as well. For example, when the insurance company pays you less than your acquisition cost, the high performer will call the payer to find out why this is. If the payer is unwilling to change, they consult with the boss (if they are not already the boss) and give the payer an ultimatum to stop providing the product (provided the contract allows for this) or be paid a reasonable fee. In some cases, you may have to wait for the contract period to end before making these changes.
Either way, staff has to be more thoughtful about their work and management must be more goal oriented. For example, if your CPAP compliance rate is less than 85%, set a goal to reach a minimum of 85 percent by 30 or 60 days from now. Continue to raise the bar until you reach the ultimate goal of 95-100 percent.
As you achieve one set of goals and reach for higher standards, you also gain a stronger core group. Further, repositioning employees to work where they are better suited is the sign of a manager with a keen understanding of what the organization needs. Finally, by finding your medium and high level performers, you will undoubtedly find leaders. Continue to measure and monitor, meeting/rounding with your staff. Reward in ways that make impact—flex time, recognition and promotion. In Good To Great, Jim Collins sums it up perfectly: “Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others; the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.”