No doubt about it – the best practices have the best teams.
As much as we like to think that no one is irreplaceable, including us, the fact is that when a great team member leaves for greener pastures, browner pastures, or Louis Pasteurs, it is a blow to the office, sometimes unnerving to the patients, and just an all around pain in the butt to get a new person hired and up to speed. Of course, there are other team members whose resignation can only be responded to with a humongous sigh of relief! The point is – we want our great team members to work hard, love their jobs, contribute to the success of the practice, and stay! But do we really know how to make that happen?
Recently, the Gallup people finished off two huge multi-year studies to find out what employees really want from their workplaces, and what the best business owners do to retain them. They came up with twelve statements that are directly related to job satisfaction and longevity.
1) “I know what is expected of me at work.”
According to Marcus Buckingham (of the Gallup Organization, not the great band form Chicago that scored in the 60s with “Kind Of A Drag” and many more), primary analyst for the study,
“Telling employees every step to take in order to do their jobs basically says ‘check your mind at the door.’ “
He suggests a better route is to tell team members what is expected of them, and what the ultimate goals are, and then allowing them their own route to solving a problem.
Now granted, sometimes this can be dangerous. But usually, it gives people much more satisfaction and follow-through when they are responsible for solutions.
For example, let’s say that you are having trouble with collections. What works better? Telling your front desk sergeant exactly what to do, or asking them to come up with some strategies to use to alleviate this problem? Many times they will have more insight into the problem anyway. Now of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t dictate the course of action. But even that will work better with employee input. And take them seriously.
2) “I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.”
Now this doesn’t mean you need to go to the Chicago Mid-Winter meeting and drop two hundred grand on the exhibit floor. But it also means that if you are working with equipment that was state of the art when Donovan was cranking out the hits, you are holding your staff (and yourself) way back. Plus, everything needs to be kept in the best repair and condition. Asking a team member to accommodate their technique due to faulty equipment is not only unfair, it is asking for trouble!!
Training is important too. It doesn’t help very much if you have the most modern equipment if no one knows how to use it!!
3) “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day!”
Stifling people is not a way to make them productive. A truly great leader will recognize the talents of others, and utilize them to their greatest potential. This may involve encouraging others to get out of their “comfort zone” (yikes – didn’t we promise to never use that phrase??) and discovering just how good they can be.
4) “In the past seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.”
There is absolutely nothing better and nicer than complimenting a staff member on a job well done, especially in front of a patient. This can even be for the simplest of things. And there is nothing wrong with repetitiveness!!
“Karen, that temporary looks fantastic!”
“Kim, you really handled that phone call well!”
“Kathy, Mrs. Weezer’s gums look excellent – great job!”
“Kris – why does everyone in this office have a name that starts with a K?”
We’ve been teaching this for years, and are glad that the Gallups agree!!
5) “My boss seems to care about me as a person!”
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to get involved in every soap opera that your assistant has, but it is important to care and get involved with the well being of everyone in your office. The growth and success of your staff is of utmost importance to happiness and a healthy office. It doesn’t hurt to provide a caring ear or even a shoulder to cry on from time to time.
6) “There is someone at work who encourages my development.”
Buckingham stated that the typical management of the past tended to point out a person’s weaknesses instead of strengths. Well that just doesn’t cut it these days! It is better to point somebody in a path that matches their own skills.
We once had a front desk assistant who did a great job, and was extremely well liked by everyone. But it seemed her forte was not answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and other things of that nature, but actually “touching” people with her warmth. It was actually very difficult for her to say “no” to a patient when they wanted a particular appointment time, whether that time was available or not!
So, after some great training, she was “shifted” to dental assistant, a position where her warmth and natural skill of making every patient relaxed and comfortable was utilized to the max.
Everyone needs to be encouraged to use their natural skills to the best of their potential. And best of all, if you encourage learning and growing, people amazingly seem to develop more “natural” skills!!
7) “At work, my opinions seem to count.”
This one is very self-explanatory, but rarely practiced. We are so close to the fire sometimes that we can’t feel the heat. Other’s opinions should always be welcomed. And remember, some ideas may not be feasible, but you should always encourage opinions and be VERY thankful that your team cares!!
8) “The mission / purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”
Mr. Buckingham states, “When people feel they are an integral part of a larger whole, they are more likely to stay committed to that organization.” In dentistry, this is almost too easy. We do great things for people every day. Make sure that your entire staff shares in these successes. Take them to the top continuing education programs where they can meet other like-minded offices. And get everyone involved in charitable cases or philanthropic work of some kind. What we do is extremely important. All too often that fact gets lost in the mundaneality of work and the stresses of running a business. Don’t let it!! By the way, “mundaneality” is a made-up word. Did you like it?
9) “My fellow team members are committed to doing quality work.”
Obvious. No underminers or slackers are welcome!!
10) “I have a best friend at work.”
Like it or not, close friendships in the office are quite important. It keeps people happy and self-assured to have a good friend at work, and helps staff members deal with change. This is, of course, different than cliques, sororities with blackballing privileges, and scary queen bees.
11) “In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.”
Many successful dentists do regular one-on-one meetings with their staff. According to Gallup, it sounds like a good idea!!
12) “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow!”
This is a great one, because it benefits both employee and employer. How can your practice grow without staff growth? How can your staff be happy doing the exact same things they were doing two years ago? It just doesn’t work that way. Stagnation leads to boredom, which leads to poor performance or walking. Get your team involved. Take their suggestions seriously. Explore opportunities in continuing education (HINT: TBSE is the best way to do this!) And be one big happy dental family!!
Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.
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