Almost every conference about physicians these days covers managing disruptive behavior, but very little time talking about preventing or anticipating it.
Given the shockingly high cost of physician turnover, poor performance and disruptive behavior, you would think it would be a natural discussion. Healthcare is finally adopting HR practices, particularly when it comes to selection and development, which have been routine in other industries for decades. The traditional medical staff culture, however, is still resistant to deliberate efforts to understand, manage and improve physician behavior and performance.
A recent article in the journal of the American College of Physician Executives, examines the Personality Traits of Disruptive Physicians. The authors, Robert Hicks, PhD, and John McCracken, PhD, are from the executive coaching program and graduate business program for physicians, respectively, at the University of Texas. Here are some article highlights:
• The physicians in question had “difficulty getting along with colleagues and adapting to practice group norms.”
• Many physicians with disruptive personalities exhibit low levels of sociability and personal trust. Accordingly, a “collegial environment that requires group participation . . . will often lead to disruptive behavior due to stress of social requirements that run counter to their basic nature.
• These physicians also frequently exhibit low levels of emotional self-control and often “exhibit aggressiveness in initiating action to get what they want.”
The article then goes on to talk about the value of coaching these individuals. In other settings, it is simply understood that functional (rather than clinical or technical) behaviors are the best predictors of performance. Yet, the physician hiring or development process simply ignores them. We hire for CV and hope that the physician has the behavioral make-up to thrive. Given all we are trying to accomplish in healthcare these days – does this many ANY sense?
Of course, the medical culture is unique. Of course, there is a physician shortage. This makes it even more important to pay attention to functional competencies during recruiting, on-boarding, and development. While most organizations may not be ready for formal behavioral assessments for selection, here are ideas of where to start:
1. Define the competencies that predict success, like: Collaboration, Communication, Adaptability and Patient focus
2. Figure out how to examine these competencies. Look, for instance, to the interviewing techniques used by leading companies to better understand candidates for executive positions.
For more info, check out our White Paper published by Becker’s Hospital Review on Behaviors, Culture and Patient Outcomes. It discusses some disturbing data about disruptive behaviors that lead to poor patient outcomes.