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Education and Development

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You can reap great returns from healthcare training and development efforts. It is often said that management is an art, very qualitative in scope, and greatly reliant on style. Others maintain that management is a science, technical and quantitative in scope and reliant on research and acquired expertise. Others maintain that management is a set of skills, which could be acquired through formal knowledge and then incorporated by individuals into their everyday activities. Still others maintain that management rests on pure magic, reliant on luck, gut feel, and basic instincts and is greatly dependent on the will of the managers to do the right thing, which in turn will provide its own rewards.

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You have probably quickly realized that management and leadership are actually a combination of all of these dimensions, a true confluence of art, science, a set of skills, and magic, with the only constant being that you can never learn too many useful strategies. Training and development, when specifically applied to managers as a management development effort, can assist you in attaining competency in several basic areas. More to the point, it can help you in terms of developing your own abilities, with each experience providing an enriching and encouraging lesson in dealing with people and making yourself a better professional.

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The Learning Curve

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As Figure 9–1 indicates, you are currently on a management learning curve; over time, you will achieve a certain degree of competency. If you consider the figure and its charting of a manager's typical first year, it demonstrates how competency will increase each quarter as you acquire the skills charted in the graph.

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FIGURE 9–1.

New healthcare leader's first year of learning.

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Initially, you should try to master observation skills. Closely monitor the progress and performance of your staff, observe the actions of your peers, and study closely the styles and applications of the managers and leaders with whom you work. To the extent possible, listen to all experiences in all areas of expertise, and try to perceive each episode as a lesson. This will provide you with a basic frame of reference in management, as well as with some specific information needed to lead and mange the individuals on your staff. Observation will also help meld your relationships with peers and superiors.

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The second phase of management is the trial and error. Typically this occurs in the second quarter, although certainly no time lines are considered absolute in every case. In the trial-and-error phase, try to establish some policy, make decisions, and operate as an agent of change within your sphere of responsibility. As you continue your education in this school of “burn and learn,” few things will work perfectly the first time, but you learn from your mistakes, get ...

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