Caring for yourself and your staff: tips for Practice Managers

The MCG Primary Care Survey 2023 revealed that 87% of practice managers feel that they and their colleagues are overworked, and the same proportion believe that it’s affecting their whole practice’s mental health. 

When you’re responsible for the smooth running of a GP surgery, that’s immense pressure to bear. You have doctors, nurses, pharmacists, staff, and patients depending on you, so it’s no surprise if the stress becomes hard to handle. 

Here are our tips for how GP Practice Managers can best look after themselves, their colleagues, and their practices. 

Prioritise tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix 

"I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." 

- Dwight D Eisenhower 

Most practice managers will laugh when they read that quote — you probably have a list as long as your arm of tasks that are both urgent and important. Or do you? 

That line from Eisenhower is why the most common ‘decision matrix’ is called the Eisenhower Matrix. It might be something you know well. It helps people to categorise tasks according to their importance and urgency. 

Eisenhower Matrix, Wikimedia Commons 

Once you’ve categorised your tasks you can then apply the following rules: 

  • Important + Urgent = Do Immediately 
  • Important + Not Urgent = Do Later 
  • Unimportant + Urgent = Delegate 
  • Unimportant + Not Urgent = Ignore 

You might use the technique already, but in the middle of the working day, things keep landing on your plate, you get swept up in the to-do list, and it’s tempting to deal with everything as soon as it arrives. If you get more in the habit of actively using it, you’ll keep maximising your efficiency. 

Delegate and say ‘no’ 

Once you’ve mastered the priority matrix, and you know how to handle anything that reaches your ‘to-do’ list, you need to put it into practice, and the hardest parts of that are often delegating and refusing tasks. 

As a practice manager, you might feel it’s hard to let go of things, or that it’s part of your job to take everything on. However, knowing what to say no to, and delegating the appropriate tasks, are as much part of managing a practice as handling things yourself. 


‘Change is the only constant’ is a cliché because it’s so true, and when you’re managing a practice, you experience that every day. We generally like to follow patterns and routines and stick with the familiar, but too many things are out of our control for us to be wedded to one way of doing things. 

Working for the NHS is a prime example. Plans, directives, and contracts change frequently, but so do technology, science, and public health. When you run your practice in a way that’s responsive to change, you can make sure the surgery is as effective and efficient as possible, which means better outcomes, a happier team, and an easier time for you. 

Spot the signs of burnout  

Anyone can burn out. It causes turmoil for individuals and for the practice, and the best thing you can do is stop it from happening in the first place. Here are some signs to look for in yourself or any of your colleagues: 

  • Not taking pride in work 
  • Irritability 
  • Fear, anxiety, and excessive risk aversion 
  • Lack of empathy 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Inability to relax, rest, or switch off 

If you notice any of those, it’s time for an open and sympathetic conversation. You may need to signpost someone (or yourself) to a service that can help. That could be the Practitioner Health Programme, an LMC, the BMA, or even another GP. 

However you approach it, take it seriously and tackle it early. It’s far better that you or your colleagues get help, or even take some time off, than allow the problem to become even bigger. 

However you run your practice, you and your surgery will be happier, more efficient, and more productive when you have colleagues who fit your culture and bring complementary skills to the team. 

MCG Healthcare is a talent specialist that prides itself on understanding the needs and experience of healthcare professionals. Email or call 0203 962 5640, and we can help you find the perfect GPs, locums, and care staff, even at short notice. 

You spend your life looking after others. We’re here to look after you. 

About the author
Piers Le-Grand Managing Consultant

Piers specialises in placing General Practitioners on a salaried and locum basis throughout the UK. With over 7 years’ experience in recruitment, Piers has found success by building strong relationships, delivering a professional service and keeping to the MCG values- be “GREAT”.

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