The Whole Package
I finally cleaned my desk at work. In the process, I found a printed version of a customer service presentation. This one discussed the ideal employee. I kept it because it's one of those things I know I'll refer back to since the most important characteristic of an ideal employee isn't what you would think. It isn't competency. It isn't skill or knowledge. It isn't anything related to medicine. According to this presentation, the number-one qualification is being able to get along with everyone.
It states that while skill and knowledge are important, the "whole package" is someone who has those but gets along with everyone. Apparently they want miss congeniality. Because of the change in reimbursement structure and paradigm shift to customer service, they reason the ideal employee should be perfect at customer service. The document states skills and knowledge are important. It is better to have an employee with excellent customer-service skills and average clinical skills than one who has excellent clinical skills and average customer-service skills.
Where did that come from? Did anyone ask the patients and their families about this? I doubt "our customers" are requesting the average therapist who gets along with everyone. In my experience, the first question "our customers" ask is who is best. I can think of three instances in the past few years when therapist assignment was changed from new grad to senior because the patient wanted someone with more experience.
Whether administration believes it or not, our patients and families can see the difference. Obviously you can't put someone out there who picks fights with coworkers, patients and everyone else. Nor can you have someone who looks down on the world and everyone in it. But how do you define "excellent customer service?" More importantly, who decided clinical skills were secondary? I work with some doctors who have absolutely no bedside manner, yet patients flock to them because they are good at what they do.
I can't get beyond the lack of emphasis on clinical skills. First, you should find the best and brightest. Then weed out the customer-service nightmares. There is no logical way to defend the other position. Some examples are in my department. If work ethic was included as a criterion, you could probably eliminate half of the hospital's current staff. But they're nice people and get along with each other so well that the hospital values them.
I'm blowing this somewhat out of proportion. But the issue of which attribute is more important is serious. Compare that to my horses. Their vet is one of the best in southeast Texas. He is very nice but his office staff runs hot and cold. If my horse has to go to the vet, I want the best people to take care of him, not someone who is good with people but not so good with horses. I don't want miss congeniality if she doesn't know how to take care of a horse. My facility seems to feel differently. Customer service is important but shouldn't be the most important criteria for being the "whole package." Skills and knowledge should come first.