2.2.07 - Issue # 256 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Barry Bigalow - Case Study #401

The call for help came in.  “My staff is out of control.  They are managing me instead of me managing them!”

Dr. Bigalow has lost control of his ship and his staff has lowered him into the rowboat!  After two days of observing the daily activities of the business office, talking candidly with Dr. Bigalow’s team during a nice lunch and two dinner meetings with the doctor, these were my findings regarding the doctor:

The doctor:

  • Wants to be liked by everyone
  • He wanted the staff to call him by his first name when not in front of patients
  • He has frequent gatherings at his home for the employees and their families
  • He didn’t feel comfortable expressing his concerns with his team for fear of disapproval from them – or confrontation
  • He was open to his staff regarding his personal issues such as financial, upcoming personal vacations, new car purchases, etc.
  • He wanted to be involved in the staff’s personal lives

His team:

  • Felt uncomfortable calling him by his first name.  It was fun at first but they came to look at him as a friend and not a boss.
  • Didn’t feel it was necessary to be entertained by their employer on a weekend.  They spend all week with him!
  • They begged for feedback from him regarding their performance.  They had asked for performance reviews.  They wanted guidance and direction from him.
  • “Please ask him not to share his personal life with us,” they said.  “We really don’t want to know that he is two months behind in his rent or he is shopping for a new car.  We have our own struggles to deal with.”


  • Never-never-never invite your employees to call you by your first name.  You lose credibility fast.
  • Never-ever-never have gatherings outside the office at your home.  It is important to separate your personal life from your work life.
  • Always conduct semi-annual to annual performance reviews with each team member.  If it is something that needs to be discussed individually sooner, do so at the end of the day behind closed doors.  If it is something that affects the entire team, address it at your next monthly meeting or morning huddle…but ADDRESS IT! 
  • NEVER-NEVER-NEVER discuss personal issues with your team or your patients!  They are looking to you for strength and support.  You must be the “fearless leader” even if you are miserable inside.  They follow your lead – if you are complaining, they will complain.  When you are happy, they are happy.  When you are at work, you are a performer and you are on stage until the last patient walks out the door.
  • NEVER get involved in your employees’ personal issues.  Listen with empathy yes, but not involved. It clouds your ability to make good decisions regarding your business..and it is a business and you are the business owner.

Dr. Bigalow understood that an effective manager does not have to be liked by everyone in the office.  It IS imperative, however, that they RESPECT him.  Along with respect comes appreciation for his ability to lead the troops into battle, if necessary.

They want to know that he will be there for them.  This generates loyalty and a feeing of security so they can perform their jobs under his guidelines, without the daily pressures of helping him “pay his bills”.

They don’t want another “friend” – they have those.  They want a leader that they can respect.

As a result of talking openly and sincerely with his team, sometimes even tearfully, Dr. Bigalow apologized for his lack of leadership.  With their support and some outside assistance in how to be an effective leader from a coach, it was not too late.

Dr. Bigalow got out of his rowboat and back into his ship and led his team out to sea.  Their performances improved and the office atmosphere was much more upbeat and positive.  Dr. Bigalow felt better about himself as he was learning to be effective and was learning how to communicate with his team with worrying about repercussions.

It is NEVER to late to ask for a life jacket and learn how to regain the respect you deserve as an employer and business owner.  Your practice will thrive, and your staff will be happy sailors!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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