3 tips to build a positive team culture at ASCs + how to overcome a huge staffing challenge

Peter Graf, business manager for Center for Pain Control and Wyomissing Surgical Services in Reading, Pa., discusses the big staffing challenges and opportunities at his center.

Question: What has been your biggest staffing challenge and how do you overcome it?

Peter Graf: Competing with the local hospital for quality employees at a competitive salary. It is difficult finding the right staff when the job descriptions differ from our ASC compared to the local hospitals, yet we have to offer similar compensation packages. We are a currently a single-specialty ASC and offer other benefits such as no night calls and no weekends. It is our hope that the other advantages will be taken into consideration by prospective applicants.

Q: What is your philosophy on building and maintaining a positive culture at the ASC?

PG: Three key points:

1. Leading by example. When things get stressful, I try to remain calm and look for a solution instead of feeding into it (there are always two or more sides to a story).

2. I encourage employees to think about what they are saying about a co-worker/owner/manager by asking themselves the following question: "Would I also say this if they would be in the room?"

3. We have also implemented an employee appreciation week (instead of celebrating nurses' week, rad-tech day, administrative assistant day separately), where the managers will honor the employees by providing lunch, games, etc., throughout the week. For example, one morning I brought my espresso machines to work and served cappuccinos, lattes, mochaccinos and macchiatos.

Q: What tips do you have for new administrators managing an ASC team for the first time?

PG: Teamwork at an ASC is no different than in other industries:

1. Know what every employee's job entails.
2. Delegate; nobody can do it all.
3. Use the strengths of each employee, avoid their weakness (or work on improving it).
4. Attempt to achieve a consensus with team decisions.
5. Don't be a friend, especially not on any social platform. Maintain professional boundaries with the staff.
6. Listen.
7. Do not reinvent the wheel; know what was tried before and failed/succeeded.

Q: How have you challenged your team to grow in 2019?

PG: We are switching to a new EMR system and trying to become a multispecialty ASC. Those changes will present a number of challenges this year.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Laura Dyrda at ldyrda@beckershealthcare.com

For a deeper dive into ASC operations, attend the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC in Chicago, June 13-5, 2019. Click here to learn more and register.

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