A few years ago I was working with a client on a special project at a nearby hospital. They had been hired to take over a major area of patient activity, and a team had been assembled to handle both the transfer of responsibility from the prior contract holder, but also to address a large number of deficiencies that had caused the change.
My client had talked to a number of physicians in the group and assembled a group based on prior experience in these kind of transfers, people who had a significant history with the group and in handling the touchy issues that always arise when a hospital makes big changes like this. Besides dealing with patient care issues, there were lots of minor political issues too.
The five of us assembled had never worked together but some were more familiar with each other than others.
Although we had a few meetings that were highly productive, our time together was compressed.
The client came up with a great idea—they hired a company that provided personality profiles to let us all get a better idea of how we would function together. What was our intra-personal dynamic going to look at? The results were highly illuminating: Some who I thought would be the best team players had a hidden, highly structured independence streak. Others proved to need a leader to function best. Finally, one of the most vociferous of the bunch showed to be painfully shy with people he didn’t know.
The results helped quantify and structure how the personnel would best mix and be assigned to help complete our mission.
Throughout all of this I kept thinking how much the definition of being a physician had changed over the last decade. Not one of the tasks we had touched a patient.
There was an article recently in the NJEM that took up the need for new docs have more exposure to what they called “business skills”—leadership, teamwork and data analysis.
Maybe every physician should take a personality test to see where they fit into all of the many new roles they are being asked to engage in (this excludes all patient activity). Especially since most of this new “business” of medicine is rarely compensated and can be a significant addition to the time spent away from a personal life.
Although I’m no psychologist, I was recommended one platform that looked like an excellent way to start with a personal assessment: The Enneagram.
This is markedly different from the personality test I took, going much deeper for a complete look that would work well for individuals, teams and organizations. The advantages of the individual analysis examine motivation, functional and dysfunctional behavior, compassion, and is focused on increasing productivity and motivation, among other characteristics. The emphasis is on self-discovery, personal awareness and personal discovery. The value to teams is in Enneagram’s emphasis on integration, re-channeling negative behavior, and establishing new avenues for communication. Impressive.
So much so I’d suggest Enneagram as one of the more important aspects of business skills NJEM addressed. It would certainly have relevance to new doctors and old alike, and could be a very valuable part of building strong teams within institutions or practices. Worth checking out.---TOM ELLIS
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