Dental CEO’s, who are you noticing? For many years, bosses thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to encourage employees. Research over past decades, however, confirms something else.
The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.
Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done or for meeting a performance goal are not a luxury.
It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice. Praise packs power! Numerous studies have shown that a sincere thank you or a word of praise often means more than a pay raise or a gift. The power comes from the fact that you took the time to NOTICE and to ACKNOWLEDGE a team member’s actions. It makes them feel special; and everyone, whether they voice it or not, wants to feel special.
Dr. Gerald Graham, a specialist in employee motivation, found that personalized, instant recognition from the team leader made the highest impact on positive and sustained employee performance. Team members respond the best when the leader/doctor:
• Personally congratulates individuals who do a good job.
• Writes personal notes about specific performance.
• Publicly recognizes individuals or the team for good performance.
• Holds morale-building events to celebrate successes.
And this type of recognition costs nothing!
Coaching ACTION ITEM: “metaphorically” or really, why not plan to create “Bobble Head” experiences for your team as you design your 2015 recognition program? Watch your customer/patient service experiences skyrocket! How you treat your team members dictates how your customers are treated.
Typically I avoid “tooting” my own horn, however something came up recently that I am proud to share. Last month I was awarded a surprise and first-of-its kind acknowledgement from The John DiJulius Group.
This group, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio is the country’s premier customer experience-consulting firm that uses the X-Commandment methodology to providing World-Class Customer experience training. I believe that the persistent and consistent delivery of exceptional, world-class customer experiences is THE key distinctive competencies that will separate you from the competition.
As a Certified Secret Service Agent, I have enthusiastically introduced this training into the dental profession. Additionally, in partnership with a fellow Certified Agent, Dr. Mario Pavicic, we presented patient experience training to faculty and preceptors at the Case School of Dental Medicine. It was met with enthusiastic reviews.
To my surprise, at the Secret Service Summit last month, Mr. Dave Murray, Senior Customer Service Consultant of The DiJulius Group announced my name and invited me up on stage in front of an audience of nearly 600 attendees to acknowledge my zeal for bringing Secret Service to the dental profession. In addition to his very kind and supportive comments, he presented me with my own “Bobble Head” replica of me! Take a look…which head looks better…the Bobble Head or my real mug? I’m taking votes.
Here is a video of the event:
I thank Mr. Murray and the entire DiJulius Team for their thoughtfulness. It has been and continues to be exciting to help my dental colleagues and their teams to implement ways to making their patients feel important, loved and well taken care of when visiting their dentist. And these service excellence techniques are LOW or NO COST to the practice, all while making price irrelevant!
The best and most essential way to create a positive, interactive dental workplace is by creating two critically important documents. The first is a value-centered set of guiding principles and the second is a clear vision statement.
To some this task may seem foolish, a waste of time, and just more ridiculous business jargon. To others this challenge may seem daunting. And to other dentists, they have discovered that to have a truly remarkable, life-balanced, and solution-oriented practice, the undertaking has been essential.
The first of the two documents, Core Values, is the most critical. It is the responsibility of the doctor to establish a set of values that all team members will respect and adhere to on a daily basis. This is not an exercise where the team gathers in a quiet, dark room, sit on the floor, hold hands, hum while we light incense and then collectively share our deepest and innermost thoughts on what our morals for the practice need to be. This is the sole responsibility of the doctor…the CEO of the firm to author this slate of guiding principles.
So what are these Core Values, how do I identify them, and how do they impact my team and my office?
Core Values are the doctor’s equivalent to The Ten Commandments. They are the Guiding Principles around which the doctor will make ALL business (and personal) decisions. It is what he or she will view as “right” and “true.” These values are non-negotiable. They originate from the heart and soul of the doctor. They are the foundation and the backbone of the practice.
Any time there is a question about what to do in typical and unusual circumstances, when there are upsets about staffing issues, how to best to communicate with patients, how to behave individually and collectively, what choice is the most appropriate for the practice, everything……..the Core Values serves as the “Ultimate” guide. It is the “source of center” for behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes for everyone (including the doctor) in the office.
Identifying Core Values can be simple or challenging, depending on how you choose to attack this mission.
What most people have discovered is that their value system is “there”, they’re “inside them”, and however, they just have never taken the time or the effort to “get them out.”
When I ask my clients to identify their values they readily admit they know what they are in general terms yet they have never put them in writing. To help them and you, below are some simple ideas to improve your ability to identify your Core Values.
Find a quiet place and begin to write out what you value. Recognize that…..
- A core value is something I have chosen freely and with consideration for the consequences of my choice.
- A core value is something I prize greatly and has a positive influence on my life.
- A core value is something I want to publicly affirm.
- A core value is something I am willing to act on.
- A core value is something I would repeat……if given the circumstances, I would respond in the same way.
People expect to achieve certain ideals from their jobs, employers, and careers. These workplace values have a direct impact on your satisfaction with your job, with your career, and even with your life.
Since you are the business owner, your values affect how you run your business. What are your core values?
The word empower is often over-used. Many employers talk about empowering their employees but often employees feel dis-empowered.
Here’s a list of the top 10 things you can do that will really empower your employees, according to employees, not employers!
1. Allow employees to actively participate in team and company goals. Look for every opportunity to include employees at every level of the organization, in being active participants. Employees often report getting one-way directives instead.
2. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees’ comments. Employees often report that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.
3. Provide positive reinforcement. Always listen and acknowledge your employees. Employees often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative.
4. Clearly delegate responsibility and give the employees authority along with the responsibility. Do you give inconsistent messages? Do you ask the employee to handle a problem or project and then give them negative feedback or give them an assignment and then say “never-mind?” Employees often report that they are given tasks and then told they did it wrong.
5. Be clear in your communication. When you express goals or explain projects, be sure the employees really understand what you are asking for. Employees often report that the goals are unclear and that they are not sure what they are being asked to do.
6. Show you have trust in your employees. Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really ok to make mistakes. Let them know you really support their decisions. Employees often report that someone is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do things right.
7. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you do most of the talking? Employees often report that conversations are one way, comprised mostly of their ideas being criticized. They don’t feel they are heard.
8. Be interested in the employees’ career development. Meet with employees and discover their goals and their wants. Employees often report that their goals are not viewed as important in the organization.
9. Let the employees help you achieve success. Are you doing it all yourself? Employees often report that their managers do all the tasks and that they have no way to make contributions outside their job descriptions. Look for opportunities to delegate and enhance the employees’ career development at the same time.
10. Be a coach. The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees often report feeling like children rather than being on the same team with their bosses.
Be their coach and lead the team to success!
Procrastination is the line that divides the 4% from the 96% of the health care professionals that reach Economic Freedom by the age of 65.
Economic Freedom is the day you have a safe and reliable portfolio that produces your desired standard of living for the rest of your life. This is the day you go to work because you want to, not because you have to.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m going to get to that next week,” but next week comes and goes. The reality for many of us is that we are inclined to “put-off” those activities that we believe will require a lot of our energy, take a lot of our time or cost us money.
Many times we will postpone an activity because we imagine it might be uncomfortable. What I have discovered is that we avoid moving forward in many cases due to fear. Fear and misperception is an anchor to success. Even when we know the consequences of avoiding this behavior may not be in our best interest, many of us still hesitate.
We have discovered throughout our lives that there are consequences for our every behavior and action. Some consequences are incidental while others have the ability to impact our lives forever. I have learned that when we confront our fears, commit to an objective and then manage the perceived discomfort, we then have the capacity to prescribe the consequences.
Procrastination is a decision. It’s a decision to do nothing. It’s immobilizing. To allow our future to unfold with no direction often comes with painful consequences. In both my personal and professional life I learned that when I took the attitude of “I’ll get to that next week, next month or when I can make the time”, the consequences were generally costly. I have seen many examples in dental offices. The doctor who had every intention to implement the most current OSHA regulations but never quite got around to it. The office was inspected and the fines were consequential. The dentist who had intended to develop a regular policy of employee performance reviews but failed to get around to it. The repercussion resulted in undirected, unmotivated and unproductive employees. “My monthly collections have been fluctuating around 91%”, proclaimed one of our clients. “One of these days I’m going to have to set up a firm financial program for the office”. Her consequences were expensive. . . poor cash flow, inability to grow the practice and an under-compensated doctor.
I see dentists and other health care professionals who practice this same “some day I’ll get to it” philosophy when it applies to their economics. They fail to develop a context or a game plan around their money. They neglect to factor in the painless and insidious affects of inflation on their purchasing dollars. The consequences effect them the rest of their lives. They discover, in many cases when it’s too late, that they cannot live their retirement years out of choice. For many they will live their lives out of desperation.
It is because of this lack of planning that only 3% of the American population and 4% of the dental community is able to retire at the same level they had become accustomed to prior to retirement. They must continue to work because they must not because they want to.
We know that when couples and individuals develop a framework and a discipline around their economics and then commit to a game plan that’s coordinated with an investment strategy that the consequences are Economic Freedom. It’s a lifelong ability to live our lives out of choice, exactly the way we want, free of the constraints of money. That’s what creates economic peace of mind and the results are enduring. Positive consequences are the results when we eliminate the “some day I’ll” baggage and educate ourselves to the unfamiliar. When we begin to manage our anxiety is when we become free to make choices. Procrastination is not a harbor of comfort, it’s our nemesis.
When we elevate economic freedom to a must priority, it comes with no conditions. The results are predictable. Positive outcomes. Peace of mind to live our lives and operate our practices exactly the way we want them, free of the constraints of money. We can procrastinate or we can plan. We can “get to it someday” or we can begin today. It’s your call. Plan your plan.
Make Recognizing Your Team Members a Daily Habit
The number one challenge facing my clients is staff! Every day, I am coaching them around ideas to get them to show up on time, to contribute to the expansion of the practice, how to motivate, terminate, and generally be more productive to the practice. For many years, dentists thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to motivate workers. Research over the past decade, however, confirms something else.
The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.
Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done or for meeting performance goals are no longer a luxury. It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice.
Consider the following Top 5 Tips to make the process of recognizing your employees a regular and daily habit
1. Four-Quarter Technique: at the beginning of the day put four quarters in your right pocket. During the course of the day “look for” team members doing something “right.” At that moment, stop, acknowledge them with praise and then you can transfer one quarter to your other pocket. Foolish you might think? It’s a simple, yet effective way to create a positive habit guaranteed to earn the respect and praise from your team.
2. Create Awards: Use awards to make people feel special. Awards are symbols that outwardly demonstrate recognition for a positive attitude. The more you reward a positive attitude, the more the practice attracts in happy patients and co-workers. Example: Energizer Bunny Award. Use a pink bunny to recognize the achievement of specific goals that required someone to keep going, and going….
3. Hand Write Notes: write a note at the end of the day to an employee who has done something remarkable, or saved you time or embarrassment, or went the extra mile. A simple “thank you” or “I appreciate you” is powerful to the soul. You may even send this note of acknowledgement to the spouse, parent, or significant other for added emphasis and encouragement.
4. Tell team members why they are important. People who understand that their efforts make a difference to the success of the team want to make sure their team “wins”. Let everyone know how important they are – everyday! Make this simple daily task one of your daily and weekly “to do” list.
5. Leave a Message: when a team member does something remarkable of note worthy call their voice mail at home or their cell phone and leave a message of praise and acknowledge them for a job well done. If you’re to busy during the day, do it on the way home from your cellular phone. Don’t be surprised if they don’t save the message and replay for their friends and family…or perhaps to hear again and again.
The attraction and retention of dental auxiliaries are increasing concerns for my clients and many dental business owners—and the situation is only expected to get worse as baby boomers grow older and retire from the workforce. Retaining workers in a competitive market requires an office environment that is supportive, caring and stands out from the rest. This will require an attitude of gratitude. The doctor will need to become more “consciously grateful” for the contribution of employees.
How can you show your employees you care and, in the process, develop a loyal workforce? Recognition and rewards come in all shapes and sizes. They can be formal (part of a planed program) or informal (given spontaneously). They can be free (a warm smile and a sincere “thank you”), simple (a single red rose in a bud vase for each staff member at the end of a productive week), or elaborate (a team one-day trip to Atlantic city).
Suggestion: Celebrate what you want to see more of. Determine what you want to see more of, less of, expanded, improved, eliminated, or modified. Then acknowledge that behavior. So what two things will you celebrate today? Take the next step and implement a simple system of recognition and acknowledgement in your office.
If you simply use the five ideas listed above you will be well on your way to creating a more appreciative atmosphere in your office. Do one of them today and observe the positive results.
In their book, How Full Is Your Bucket?, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton provide the student of practice management with a powerful lesson in understanding human potential and motivation. The metaphor in this book suggests that each person carries an invisible bucket of emotions, along with a dipper, which he or she can use to either add to other people’s buckets or to dip from them. In the end, research shows that filling someone else’s bucket benefits both parties — the person who gave the praise and the person who received it.
The Gallup Organization surveyed almost 4 million workers on the topics of recognition and praise. Some of the startling results:
• 65% of people reported receiving no recognition on the job last year,
• an estimated 22 million workers are “actively disengaged,” or extremely negative in their workplace.
Those practices smart enough to recognize the impact of employee satisfaction and have begun offering recognition and praise report see the following results:
• increased individual productivity—higher income to the practice and team
• better safety records/fewer accidents on the job—reduced costs to the practice
• employees stay with the practice longer—HUGE cost savings to the practice
• higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers—positively impacts the bottom line with increased revenues to the practice.
Consider the following strategies, adapted from the Gallup organization, that you can take now. The many small interactions or moments that make up your day — approximately 20,000 moments by one study’s count — weigh in on either the positive or negative side. These moments influence who we are, how we feel, and how we perform.
Here are five strategies for reducing the negativity in your culture:
1. Prevent “Bucket Dipping.” Increase your own awareness of how often your comments are negative. Work toward a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative.
2. Shine a Light on What Is Right. Try focusing on what employees or peers do right rather than where they need improvement, and discover the power of reinforcing good behaviors.
3. Make Good Friends. People with good friends at work have better safety records, receive higher customer satisfaction scores, and increase workplace productivity.
4. Give Unexpectedly. A recent poll showed that the vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.
5. Modify the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. Instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you should “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Individualization is key when filling others’ buckets.
Talk to your team; rid yourself of “stinkin-thinkin”; and by all means put yourself in charge of your morale. If you allow attitudes in your office go sour, your employees will be mentally down and out. Create higher expectations; take charge of filling people’s buckets; Act upbeat, and you and your team will feel better, perform better, and………..you will create a dental office where people will want to come to work.
What questions do you have related to your business that you would really like to get some feedback on?
Your list of questions might include…
- How am I doing as your boss?
- What kind of a leader am I?
- What can we do better to make your visit with us special and different?
- What is the customer service level you perceive in our practice?
- Who treated you exceptionally well during your last visit?
- Where can we improve our service?
- When and how would you like to be reminded of your next appointment?
If you REALLY want to know, take the time and ask the questions! Be prepared to learn a lot; share your survey results; articulate what ACTIONS you intend to take as a result of what you learned.
Use this surveying of your customers as a way to train your team and grow your profits.
If you would like a copy of my simple survey, “How Am I Doing As Your Boss” click on the link below, take it yourself then make copies and invite your team to take it anonymously, then compare the results. I suspect you might be surprised and you will have some concrete action steps for improvement in your team relationships.
Click here for the How Am I Doing as Your Boss survey.
What is the possibility you are “enabling” your employees? If you are enabling, you are offering help that perpetuates rather than solves a problem.A doctor who allows a team member to arrive late routinely to the morning huddle because she claims she has to drive through heavy traffic is enabling irresponsibility. The doctor that tolerates an employee who constantly has to get up and down from the chair to retrieve additional instruments or materials is enabling inattention to detail and inefficiency. The team member who is “barked at” by the doctor in front of the patient is enabling disrespect.
It can be a fine line between helping and enabling. Some leaders enable people to remain dependent or unengaged. Stop making excuses and covering up for others!
The word empower is often over-used. Many employers talk about empowering their employees but, often, employees feel disempowered. Here are four of the top 10 things you can do that will really empower your employees, according to employees, not employers!
- Allow employees to actively participate in team and company goals.
Look for every opportunity to include employees at every level of the organization – in being active participants. Employees often report getting one-way directives instead.
- Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done.
Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees’ comments. Employees often report that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.
- Provide positive reinforcement.
Always listen and acknowledge your employees. Employees often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative.
- Clearly delegate responsibility and give the employees authority along with the responsibility.
Do you give inconsistent messages? Do you ask the employee to handle a problem or project and then give them negative feedback or give them an assignment and then say “never-mind?” Employees often report that they are given tasks and then told they did it wrong.
To receive the remaining six of my Top Ten Ways to Empower Your Employees, send me an email with Top 10 – Empower in your subject line.
Early on in my practice, I found myself being the first one into the office and the last one out. All the employees were waving goodbye to go home and I was “stuck” in my office for a couple more hours – dealing with piles of charts to review, return calls to make, prescriptions to call in, unmounted casts sitting on my desk…it felt never-ending.
First thing in the morning, they’d line up asking me to “fix” this and that. I was going nuts. I felt like I was on a gerbil wheel. Near exhaustion, I realized that I was ENABLING my team members to be DEPENDENT on me and I was not encouraging them to do things for themselves or to think on their own.
- They didn’t have to be accountable for their actions.
- They didn’t have to take initiative.
- They didn’t have to think on their own.
- They didn’t have to worry about being wrong or taking risks.
- Hell, they just asked me what to do and I told them!
- BIG mistake!
To resolve this situation, I learned I needed to EMPOWER them
I had to learn to invite and train them to take the lead on decisions that directly impacted them, to assume responsibility to share suggestions and ideas about their work and how we can distribute the load. I needed to give them permission to think, behave, take action, to control their work and environment, and to do it autonomously. They needed to think on their own and not come to me for every “nit-picky” thing.
It took a lot of time and training…for me as well as them. However, when I made this commitment, my life changed. I delegated everything I could, explained expectations better with measurables, got home to my family for dinner, our practice grew, and the doctor was a much happier camper!