As I travel the country working with HME companies of all sizes,
it is clear that employees and managers have one thing in common:
Their behaviors feed off one another. Moreover, managers often
direct the manner in which the operation functions and set the
morale/tone for their employees. So how does behavior impact the
functionality of the HME organization?
First ask yourself, what is behavior? According to
Merriam-Webster, behavior is the “manner of conducting
oneself.” Another definition states “the response of an
individual, group or species to its environment.”
Staff behavior is typically a response to that of superiors. In
fact, most employees emulate and mimic the ways in which work is
done by their managers or supervisors. From my experience in
hundreds of HME companies, I've noticed a recurring theme: When
managers have no spark, no burning desire to succeed, neither does
For example, in one company I visited recently, the billing
supervisors didn't see the point in resolving open claims. They
preferred instead to write off the receivable dollar because they
felt their attempts might be futile. This taught me that if
supervisors don't work their hardest to overcome challenges in
meeting adversity, neither will staff.
Conversely, when managers feel a sense of ownership and urgency
to get the job done, so does staff. Motivated managers breed
In today's HME economy, it is imperative that managers behave as
the role models staff requires and deserves. Make sure your
managers have the dedication and drive to succeed. Those factors,
combined with the necessary technical skills, will allow them to
get the job done.
Once you find key staff to develop as company leaders, you must
provide training and expectations. This translates to setting
realistic accountability measures for supervisors and managers. In
turn, they must establish objective measures for their employees.
These measures should come from a collaboration between staff and
management to decipher what tasks the employees undertake daily and
how long it takes to complete each task. The exercise will give you
an opportunity to learn how each person works and what they
accomplish daily. Further, it will enable you to set standard
levels of performance and accountability measures.
Clearly, the more objective you are with your staff, the more
they will understand what is expected of them. For example, if
denials are an issue as in many HME organizations, set a goal to
work denials for the first two hours of every day. See how long it
actually takes to resolve the denials, and track the action taken
for the timing and accuracy of the response.
Once standards are established, create a reward program for
success. It might be as simple as a gift card to a restaurant or
pizza lunch. You will find that success breeds success. The more
staff achieves, the more they want to achieve. This positive
behavior will show that managers who lead by example achieve
desired results. Coaching and leadership combined with the
necessary tools and resources will help your staff excel.
As you start to see the desired results, you will find that
employees like short-term goals because they feel like winners in
achieving them. In addition, your employees will feel pride of
ownership if you allow them to engage in establishing goals.
Finally, meeting regularly (provided there is a worthwhile
agenda) is critical to keeping the lines of communication open. In
fact, permit staff to help lead these meetings. Once your employees
see a positive role model leading the meetings, you might just find
a hidden gem, another leader who might otherwise remain
unrecognized in the background. A quick daily huddle is also
helpful as you try to bring staff together toward a common goal;
this will, in turn, promote a team-playing approach.
The overarching message is that management behavior is
critically important to the success of any HME organization (or any
organization, for that matter). If they model positive behavior
with a sense of urgency, openness and approachability, managers
will show through their leadership that they act as business
owners. Their personal integrity will be mimicked by their staff.
With this positive behavior, objective measures for accountability
will help them gain additional profitability.
Read more The Bottom Line
Miriam Lieber is president of Lieber
Consulting, Sherman Oaks, Calif., specializing in operations
management and reimbursement for the HME industry. You can reach
her at 818/789-0670 or by email at email@example.com.