3 management myths and how to avoid them

Very often in medical practices, people receive promotions to managerial roles. Some of you reading this may fit this description, as being a once-outstanding biller, coder or receptionist whose career has grown with the practice. Despite these well-deserved opportunities, however, not all leaders are initially welcome to or skilled at managing people.

Jamie Verkamp, managing partner with (e)Merge Consulting, discussed this phenomenon at the 2012 Medical Group Management Association annual conference in San Antonio.

The good news, she said, is that, "We all have tendencies to be good leaders. They just need to be developed."

In our article about that presentation, we discussed steps practices can take to help foster strong managers. Here, I'd like to focus on ways managers can nurture their own potential. Tons of advice exists in business periodicals for how to do this, but here are some insights that are not your run-of-the-mill tips. As you navigate your career and day-to-day challenges, I encourage you to think about the following ideas:

1. Your core values--which influence your thoughts, behaviors and emotions every day--aren't necessarily accurate or productive, noted Forbes blogger Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker in Lincoln, Maine. For example, if you have a deep-seated belief that you'll never succeed in life, you're doomed to make decisions that will indeed sabotage your results.

I like this point because it challenges the notion that awareness of one's beliefs is enough. Of course, ferreting self-doubt out of your professional mindset begins with recognizing it. And being human, we likely all fight these demons to varying degrees. The encouraging part of Morin's observation, however, is that we all have the power to modify core beliefs once we recognize they are not working for us or our organizations. "Modifying core beliefs requires purposeful intentional hard work," she wrote, "but it can change the entire course of your life."

2. Adapt your coaching strategy to the player. Oftentimes, we discuss the topic of motivating 'employees' as they belonged to one collective species who all responded to the same incentives. But as I've learned personally by coaching athletes and working with great coaches, the best techniques for getting performance out of people will vary by the person. Some runners, for example, thrive on a steady dose of praise, while others need a tough-love approach. Others develop more richly with a deeper technical knowledge of what they're doing and why than some coaches traditionally take the time to explain.

Business is no different, according to a post from Leading with Trust. "The most difficult transition for new managers is learning how to achieve goals through other people rather than doing it themselves," noted the author, Randy Conley, trust practice leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He recommended that managers learn the three P's of motivating people: Push, praise and play. While the first two are self-explanatory, Conley described people who respond to 'play' as the following: "Those are the self-motivated individuals that just need to be put in the starting lineup and given the freedom to do their thing."

3. The opposite of negative isn't necessarily positive. 'Negative thinking' has a bad rap in our society. Often, we look down on people who complain too much as not being positive enough. Even when I catch my own thoughts going down a whiney road, I often feel pangs of guilt and an urgent need to bombard my brain with images of puppy dogs and rainbows.

But this tendency misses the opportunity to correct what's wrong with negative thinking, noted Forbes' Morin. It's not so much that negative thinking is bad--bad things happen, after all--but that it's not productive. Therefore, she wrote, "Identify and replace overly negative thoughts with thoughts that are more productive…and not necessarily positive." Take the inner voice telling you, "I can't ever do anything right," for example, and modify it to the more balanced, "I have some weaknesses, but I also have plenty of strengths," she suggested.

What do you think? Do you have any management misconceptions or clarifications on popular advice to add to this list? - Deb (@PracticeMgt)