Small Steps Create Big Impact:
Getting the Most from Your Employees
You’re ready to pull you hair out about Carol, the come-in-late-and-leave-early front office employee. You’ve raised her hourly rate beyond industry standards in your community. Still, she’s doing as little as possible. How do you motivate her to do the work you’re paying her to do?
It’s no surprise that Carol isn’t performing up to speed. Research shows that once a fair level of pay is established, money ceases to be a significant motivator for long term performance.
Influencing your staff to higher levels of productivity is less about financial involvement and more about relationship investment. In fact, surveys have found that employees often leave a company not because of dissatisfaction with the company or work itself, but because of poor relationships with their boss.
So, a coaching question for your consideration:
How would you rate the quality of your connections with your staff?
This doesn’t mean you have to feel a close kinship with everyone in your office. It does mean…
- Be present. When you are at work, be mindful of the people who are there with you. Pay attention to your employees, as well as your patients. Before you even get out of your car at the office, pause and clear your head. Make a sincere commitment to focus on external exchanges.
- Build ‘think time’, into your schedule. Small 10-minute breaks can do wonders to keep you engaged and less distracted.
- Convey belief in your employees’ potential. When you see each person as creative and dependable it builds trust, and it allows them to venture forward with increased confidence.
- As management guru Ken Blanchard said, ‘Catch people doing things right’.Verbalize it. Recognition is about feeling appreciated. It’s knowing that what you do is seen and noted, and preferably by the whole team as well as by the boss. Think about this in opposite terms - if your employees do something well but you don’t say anything, they feel it is ignored…they may not bother to do it so well next time (because "no one cares").
- Set up individual meetings with your employees. Identify what they do well (their strengths), what needs improving (be constructive) and what is expected of them in the future (something to aim for). Although this may seem obvious, how many on your team really know these things right now? Perhaps more importantly, for which of your team members could you write these down now (Try it)?
- Give feedback when the event occurs. It should be honest, direct and kind at the same time. Start by highlighting something good. Then point out what you would like to be different, and offer a suggestion about how to improve it.
- If you don’t find anything positive to say, offer recognition of the effort that has been put into the work.
- Be specific. Drive-by praise without behavioral examples is ineffective. Strengthen ‘great job’ with concrete details such as “Thank you for taking quick action and filling the schedule when we had a cancellation this morning. It really made a difference in our daily production rate”.
- Refrain from abbreviated communication that is unhelpful in solving problems. Describing Carol as ‘lazy’ does not provide clear, tangible direction over which you have influence. “Carol is lazy” should be translated into “Carol needs to be more punctual with the weekly report”. In this way, you and Carol have a starting point and something that can be measured. No generalities; only specific, observable behavior.
- Develop progress plans. Link employees’ performance to organizational goals. Review these at least quarterly. Reinforce your investment by spending time with your employees. Your follow-up will demonstrate that they are important to you, and that you value and appreciate them.
Developing positive connections with your staff requires time and effort. But by building good relationships with your team and motivating peak performance from them, you will yield big dividends for your bottom line.
Create the right environment that sustains employee commitment. Contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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