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Toni Talks about PT Today

The New Manager

Published June 20, 2013 12:55 PM by Toni Patt

The rehab director at my SNF is new. She took over the position about the same time I started the job. Whereas I've worked in many SNFs, this is her first management job and it shows. For the past few weeks, she has been making beginner mistakes. Most haven't been very serious. I've also noticed that she has begun relying on notes to avoid difficult conversations.

Notes are great for communicating simple ideas or as a reminder. They don't work as well when used as a substitute for actual communication. It's far better to say whatever needs to be said. I've been a manager. I fell into that trap. Notes don't work for everything. A note allows someone to avoid saying something. It also allows the person receiving the note to ignore the implicit message.

One of the PTAs is behind on closing out his discharges for me. She left him a note on top of the stack reminding him it needed to be done last week. The stack of charts is still sitting there. It will be until she finally says something to him in person. Doing so might be uncomfortable but avoiding difficult conversations is worse. As a manager, you must take responsibility for your decisions even if someone is unhappy.

She is making a big mistake that will come back to haunt her. She is enjoying the praise for what she's accomplishing. She has fixed some procedural issues and plugged some documentation holes. In the process, she has aligned herself with building management rather than the rehab team. It can be a heady feeling to be included in the decision process but you can't forget your coworkers. Sooner or later, management will move on to the next great new thing.

Therein lies the problem. By pushing the managerial agenda, she's distancing herself from the rest of us. Avoiding confrontations because they are uncomfortable only makes it worse. She has yet to realize it's better to simply say no immediately. It's also better to resolve conflict immediately. It rarely resolves on its own.

I'm not happy with what I've been observing. We're starting down a slippery slope of balancing patient care and financial needs.

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Although I do agree that information will need to be expressed face to face rather than post it notes, why not talk to her rather than writing something like this.  Doesn't your work have a policy regarding posting/blogging work related information? If they don't, they will now.  Why would you want to embarrass the manager like this?  

Karen June 21, 2013 6:24 PM

Wow! Going after another director! So where are you going to be working next month?

Katarinah June 21, 2013 10:27 AM

Toni, as someone who has been around probably as long, if not longer than yourself, I've seen this story before myself. I agree, she is making 'beginner' mistakes and my guess won't be receptive to advice from another PT.

Just like our patients, sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes. I hope she learns quickly for the sake of your patients and your staff. Notes, like emails, can be easily misunderstood creating more of an issue than if an honest conversation had happened up front.

Good reminder.

Dean Metz June 20, 2013 3:15 PM

Your blog posts are so negative.  Why would anyone come work in this profession after reading your posts?

Jennifer June 20, 2013 2:32 PM

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