Evaluating Your Effectiveness as a Radiology Administrator
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6 steps to become a more effective administrator.
By Kernesha S. Weatherly, Director of Radiology, UAB Medicine.
Are you an effective radiology manager? How do you know? In today’s climate, increased productivity and efficient use of existing facilities have become a necessity. From budget cuts, fee for performance, and increased consumerism, a person’s leadership abilities are more important than ever. Today’s consumer-driven health care market requires a manager who is an asset – not a liability – to the organization.
I’d like to share a strategic framework and 6 steps for effectively managing yourself. This will not only impact your performance, but also the effectiveness and work lives of your direct reports. Read on to learn the six steps to becoming a more effective radiology manager:
- Identify your leadership style
- Identify your weaknesses
- Request feedback
- Practice self-discipline
- Manage your self
Your self-management – or lack of it – directly correlates with the success of your department. Do you know that inefficient management can create a 5 to 10 percent drag on productivity? Subpar leadership can inhibit synergy, foster toxicity and decrease morale – all of which lead to poorer performance. Disengaged staff, high turnover and decreased efficiency all have financial ramifications. And in today’s consumer-driven healthcare environment, you need high-performing staff who positively contribute to patient satisfaction more than ever.
So how can you improve your effectiveness as a radiology administrator?
1. Identify your leadership style
The first step to managing yourself is to identify what kind of leader you are. Here is a good resource that describes various leadership styles, and the pros and cons of each. (You might have seen different labels for these styles.)
Identify whether your leadership style is amongst the mostly commonly known autocratic, laissez-faire, authoritative, transactional, transformational or situational. You might feel you are a mix of leadership styles, but it is likely that you have one innate style that you most often gravitate to. For example, although I gravitate toward authoritative at times; my primary leadership style is situational.
Identifying your leadership style was the easy part. Now you begin the hard work of managing yourself. To be successful, you need to master levels of self-awareness and self-management. We’ll start with self-awareness, which involves three steps: introspection, identify your weaknesses, request feedback and practice self-discipline.
Introspection is the ability to examine your thoughts and behaviors objectively. This is where you cultivate the ability to see yourself and your blind spots; to identify your behaviors and how they positively or negatively affect those around you.
Begin by asking yourself, “what are the common complaints I hear from my radiology staff?” Reflect on the areas or topics that you often feel resistance or apprehension from direct reports. When do you see people shutting down? What situations are they most likely to make a mistake? Then reflect on your behavior, tone and delivery in those situations.
3. Identify your weaknesses
Many of us focus on our strengths. But identifying your weaknesses will make you much stronger than identifying your strengths. For example, I know I have a horrible memory. As a director of multiple departments, I have a lot of irons in the fire and I am presented with many requests and issues throughout the day that I need to address at some point. So, I developed a process where I send myself email reminders from my phone – and I schedule those emails to be delivered to me on the day I need to address a particular task. This is one example of how I manage one of my weaknesses.
Not all your weaknesses will be obvious, and you might not be weak in it every day. It might be an issue that comes up only in a particular situation. Reflecting on your weaknesses and identifying them is uncomfortable. But if you don’t identify your weaknesses, you may be a liability to your radiology department.
4. Request feedback
Requesting feedback requires humility. You are asking someone to be honest with you about your shortcomings and how others perceive you. But having done your introspection work and spent time identifying your weaknesses, you will be prepared for the negative feedback. If you are completely shocked by the feedback, I question the sincerity of your introspection.
As you listen to feedback, remember that weaknesses do not mean that you are failing. Rather, these are opportunities to improve and become a better manager.
At times, you might think that the person giving feedback is wrong or misinformed. But that doesn’t matter. The truth is that is their perception of you. You may ask for clarifications, but your role in this step is to listen to hear – not to listen to respond.
Which direct report should you ask for feedback? Start with the one who is always honest and often speaks up, even when you don’t want to hear it. Most of us have an employee like this on our staff. However, don’t ask the employee who you have a bumpy relationship with. If you don’t feel comfortable asking a direct report, ask one of your peers or someone you directly report to. Also, you can ask your HR department to orchestrate a blind feedback process. But remember, if you don’t want to know – don’t ask. But you won’t grow if you don’t ask.
5. Practice self-discipline
This step requires active intention. You have set a goal that you want to be a better manager, so now you need to put it into practice. This requires you to step into an uncomfortable zone and examine your moods and reactions. Explore what rattles you. Does your staff know what buttons to push to get a response from you?
How are you handling being a patient’s punching bag these days? A lot of us are in this situation often now. COVID-19 restrictions are keeping family and visitors away from patients; and patients are more upset and frightened. Practicing self-discipline means understanding that patients are upset overall and not with you personally and letting them unleash those negative emotions on you without it affecting your reactions.
Similarly, your staff might be lashing out at you, or they might be short with you. Like your patients, they too are under a lot of stress from COVID-19 and the ongoing changes it presents. Practicing self-discipline will help you pause and consider the real concerns of your radiology staff and allow you to formulate an appropriate plan, rather than reacting quickly in a way that causes even more stress.
6. Manage yourself
Now that you’ve gone through the steps to self-awareness, let’s explore areas for managing yourself: organization, prioritization, self-regulation, accountability and continuous learning.
Organization: how many unread emails are in your inbox? If you have 100 or more, how can you say that you are an effective leader? How can you manage yourself if you can’t manage your inbox? How do you know you aren’t missing something important that is a concern for your staff or a patient? An inability to delegate, or being inflexible or unorganized, are red flags that must be addressed.
Prioritization: Create a list of which tasks need to be done first to keep your perspective. Understand what is most important, and what is due first. If you work 8 to 10 hours a day and feel like you didn’t get anything done, then you likely need to work on prioritization.
Self-regulation: Be in tune with yourself. Practice pausing, breathing and collecting yourself throughout the day so that you can intentionally respond rather than react. Take the actions and time you need to collect yourself whether it’s a walk, a call to a friend or just closing the office door for a while. I made a commitment to myself to block off 30 minutes a day to eat my lunch and take time for myself.
Accountability: Own your actions. Admit when you are wrong. You can’t expect your team to be open and transparent if you give off an air that you don’t make mistakes. Accountability also is about setting clear expectations for your radiology team. You can’t expect compliance from them if you have not clearly communicated what is required of them.
Additionally, when you are tired or overworked, take accountability and tell leadership you need help – whether that is a deadline extension, help from others, or a day off. Accountability is an exercise in empowerment and shows you are effective leader by first and foremost, knowing how to effectively manage yourself.
Continuous learning: This is necessary for your personal growth in creativity and strategic development. Learning can happen informally through coffee or phone calls with your colleagues and mentors. Or it can be more formal, like taking an online course. Check with your HR department for development opportunities offered by your organization.
Regardless of the sector, leadership capabilities have always been a challenging characteristic to identify in others. Although seemingly obvious and somewhat basic, identifying your leadership skills can help ensure that you are consistently moving your team in the right direction.
A successful radiology department requires a functional and effective leader who is fluid and flexible in their approach. An effective leader is necessary to consistently move your team in the right direction. An effective leader understands the power of, and necessity for, contextual leadership. Only those leaders who can quickly recognize and adapt their methods to the situation at hand will be successful over the long haul. Remember that the most important leadership skill you can ever learn is how to lead yourself.
I hope you found this information helpful. What are your strategies for being an effective leader? What are your biggest obstacles to meeting the goals of your radiology department? Please share them in the comments below.
Kernesha Weatherly, MHA, CNMT, RT(CT), is the Director of Radiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. She gave a presentation on this topic at AHRA 2020. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more blogs on radiology administration:
- COVID-19 Challenges for Radiology Administrators
- Increasing Productivity in the Radiology Department
- Best Practices for Radiology Administrators from Aunt Minnie Semi-Finalists
- Radiology Administration Strategies for 2020
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