Identifying front-end employees who are potential management material is important for the future of the department. Some signs of leadership potential:

  • Alerting supervisors to problems and possible solutions;
  • Developing a reputation as a resource person;
  • Putting training to good use on the job.

Other Possible Roles for Hard-working Registrars

Some patient access staff are capable of strong, independent work, but just aren’t cut out to supervise others.

“Hard workers with people skills are for management. Hard workers that are more reserved are always excellent in the QA role,” says Sara Polak.

Michelle Ross says hard-working employees usually are proficient in their jobs, “but being a technically strong individual does not, on its own, make you a strong leadership candidate.”

She’s placed team members who aren’t suited for leadership in quality assurance, education, and technical design roles. One extremely skilled registrar always completed her registrations with accuracy and advocated for her patients.

“She understood insurance like no one else on the team,” Ross recalls.

The registrar was promoted into a lead role, but it was a bit too challenging.

“She knew all the answers, but some of her soft skills were lacking,” Ross explains. “Her interpersonal interactions were rough, and she had a hard time thinking globally.”

Still, the registrar continued to demonstrate strong technical skills. Realizing the leadership role wasn’t the best fit, her manager encouraged her to apply for a new quality assurance role. The position required her to evaluate technical and operational workflows, audit accounts, and provide liaison support to employees.

“This was the sweet spot for her. She is now the subject matter expert on the team,” Ross says.

To Find Out If Employee Has Potential, Delegate a Task

Independently managing simple duties could be a sign of future success

When Sarah Thomas, senior director of access systems at Seattle Children’s Hospital, suspects an employee has leadership qualities, she delegates a job to them.

“I start with smaller tasks that have a lower risk if not well done,” she says. Some examples include:

  • sending the employee to a training session and asking him or her to teach their peers what he or she learned.

“That gives me insight into how organized they are about taking notes, how well they absorb the big picture, and how well they communicate,” Thomas explains.

  • asking the employee to make copies of an agenda for a meeting.

“It could be that they have 20 questions just to determine how to put the copies together,” Thomas notes. If the employee can’t do a simple task without a lot of coaching, he or she isn’t ready to manage others. On the other hand, the employee might pleasantly surprise by figuring out how to program the department’s copy machine, or come up with an extra article that’s relevant to the meeting agenda.

Even if the employee flounders, it’s low risk for the patient access leader.

“At the end of the day, you’re still the one leading the meeting,” Thomas adds.

Teresa Carballo, a quality and training manager at Seattle Children’s Hospital, came to the organization as a scheduler from a small physician practice.

“It was my first experience in a really large organization,” she recalls.

Shortly after she started, Thomas asked Carballo to be part of the committee involved in planning implementation of a new system.

Carballo was able to give input from the scheduling perspective to tweak the way the new system was under designed.

“People were looking to me, asking, ‘How does that sound?’ and ‘Does it actually happen that way?’” she recalls. “On the front line, you don’t always see how decisions are made.”

Carballo enjoyed the experience and began training staff in the new system, and shortly afterward, was promoted to her current position as manager of Epic training and curriculum development. She credits this to receiving a chance to work outside her role.

“It allowed me to think bigger than what I was doing in my day-to-day work, and see how things worked in the organization,” Carballo recalls.