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Chiropractic News

September 2011

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Executive order

Study the secrets of business executives to reach higher levels of performance and income.

By Eric Huntington, DC

The growth of the chiropractic profession, and possibly the growth of your practice, has been hampered by a lack of executive leadership. After all, chiropractic schools draw students mainly looking to be doctors, which is no surprise. The result is that the profession and most practices lack the key personnel needed to bring chiropractic to the majority of the population.

At first glance, you might surmise that allopathic medicine must have the same problem — their schools must be drawing students looking to be doctors, not executives. While this is probably true, the medical system is biased in favor of the allopathic model. Thus, the average MD in private practice can be a terrible businessperson, with unfriendly and inefficient staff, and yet survive and thrive thanks to the insurance system. Considering that the pharmaceutical industry is run by executives, you see why there is really no comparison.

Chiropractors who want to win the game of healthcare delivery should use superior organization and strategy.

HuntingtonThese are the only ways to overcome the barriers to success facing the profession — barriers largely due to the overwhelming resources of the pharmaceutical-backed medical model, which has set up an insurance structure that continuously recycles patients back into its system.

To fully understand the solution, first consider the meaning of the term “executive.” To execute a plan means to “carry it out,” to “get it done.” We think of executives as having senior managerial responsibilities in a company,  people who put plans and policies into effect.

Simply stated, executives get others to get things done. They have their own work as well; however, getting others to accomplish tasks is the primary thing that separates the executive from the worker.

Capable executives do not need to take direction from others in order to work. They can figure out what needs to be done or how to create new work for themselves and others that will further the goals of the business — they have no need for supervision or instruction.

In order to get others to get things done, executives must be skilled communicators. They use language to get their plans carried out by subordinates. They must also know how to use communication to not only convey ideas to others efficiently, but also to reassure those who are worried or concerned.

Handling upset staff members is a key executive duty. The problem might involve work or a personal matter. Therefore, the executive must have an interest in understanding people and their motivations. Because this is the way they help their staff, people who are not excited about helping others to solve work-related and personal problems may not enjoy wearing the executive hat.

Additionally, the executive must understand how to evaluate worker performance. They usually do this with statistics, since they need to monitor the production of their subordinates, but can’t spend time directly observing their work. In order for this statistical data to be valid, though, it must accurately represent what is produced by the worker.

For example: The most accurate statistics for measuring the performance of your receptionist are usually “patient visits” and “patient

visit show rate.” If properly assigned and assessed, statistics show the true picture.

Although they use statistics to avoid micromanaging every activity in a business, executives also have a keen ability to observe. They can look at an area under their control and see anything that looks unusual, that isn’t as it should be.

Executives are not misled by rumors or excuses; they are good at seeing things for what they really are. Because executives have self-confidence, they can act quickly on what they see.

For your part, the easiest way to improve your ability to observe and act quickly and correctly is to fully understand the ideal state of the business you manage. If you are the owner of your practice, this means you have to know how every aspect of your practice should run and how it should look. Almost anyone can learn this ability.

The executive can investigate and discover the true state of a business. This sometimes requires digging through files, studying past statistics, interviewing employees and customers, and other methods. If the business does not have adequate organizational systems that allow for thorough investigations, the executive creates those systems and puts them into use.

Executives are good at organizing the areas they control. The more organized an area, the more production that can occur. The better the product or service delivered to customers, the more income that should result.

Ultimately, executives are able to apply pressure on their subordinates to reach needed levels of production.

There are workers who don’t need much if any pressure applied — but they are relatively rare.

“Pressure” in this context doesn’t mean force or anger. Most workers want to do their jobs well, and will appreciate being helped in the direction of greater productivity. Morale tends to rise with production.

In most instances, your focused attention is all that is needed. Sometimes, you can raise an employee’s productivity by comparing past and current statistics, or pointing to the statistics of another practice.

Occasionally, it may be necessary to give a reminder of the minimum level of production needed to maintain employment, not as a threat, but just as an honest appraisal. In all cases, pressure is applied with the intention of improving the employee’s ability to work. Avoid any approach that leaves the worker crushed, upset, or less productive.

Wearing the executive hat will allow you to expand your influence. The more chiropractors who become executives and apply their knowledge in the field, the greater the influence chiropractic will have in society.

Being an executive is a learned skill. The way to acquire it is to study the science of administration, which includes communication, leadership, and human behavior. Study the executive attributes detailed above and apply them in your practice.

Continue your study in earnest by reading books and taking courses on chiropractic administration. Apply what you learn, have fun, and help make the world a better place.

EricHuntingtonEric Huntington, DC, is the president of the Chiropractic Business Academy, a chiropractic training and consulting group that assists chiropractors in building stable, profitable practices by teaching time- tested, proven business systems. He can be reached at 888-989-0855 or through

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