At the end of a recent coaching call, I asked the Doctor how he felt about our conversation. I wanted to know if our discussion had met his expectations, to assure we had accomplished the agenda set for the call. The answer I received caused me to pause. He said: “You’ve given me hope.”
Touched by his words, I reflected on what had elicited such an inspirational feeling as “hope.” I was especially curious about his feedback as I had been firm in my challenge to him – it was time to put on his leadership “shoes” and deal with some difficult issues in his practice. On a parallel track with that, I also had encouraged him. I helped this Doctor to see his solution and he was motivated to take mindful action.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t like to be encouraged? We all need to be told that we are appreciated…that we are doing a good job…that we are important. This is the essence of hope. An emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome. Leadership is about providing hope and encouragement to your team. Successful leaders tell employees when they are on the wrong path, and they simultaneously give them the energy to get on the right one. It is a compassionate action because it enables employees to learn and grow.
Think back over your life and remember a teacher, a coach, or a family member who encouraged you to try something new. They gave you confidence and awakened your courage. Or perhaps they reminded you of your positive qualities when you had gotten down on yourself. Those ‘encouragers’ built you up and instilled you with hope.
We all need someone shouting in our ear: “You can do it!” You may not want to admit it, but you really can’t do it all alone. So too, with your team (and patients, for that matter). They all need your encouragement. When you encourage others you boost performance, strengthen determination and even improve physical well-being. Encouragement mobilizes people to accomplish bigger things. Think of it as a psychological B-12 shot!
Encouragement is not the same as praise. Praise is positive feedback and it focuses on past action. Praise is not about improvement but about recognizing excellence. Encouragement is future-oriented. Instead of emphasizing something that has already been done, encouragement ignites a person’s internal motivation to take action. Encouragement is the process of building up another to do something that is difficult.
Your job as the dental leader is to encourage your employees to perform well. When you support them in their attempts to grow professionally they will develop stronger loyalty to you and the practice. This is a huge advantage in improving retention and reducing turnover. More and more, employees are looking for employers who can help them increase their knowledge and skills. Coming to work is about more than just a paycheck. It’s no longer enough to offer a conventional benefits package.
Shine a light on your peoples’ strengths and inspire them to exceed their current level of performance. Foster their learning and help them to experience the joy of improving themselves. Implement a mentoring program by pairing a newer employee with an experienced team member. Invest in employee training for any skills that are pertinent to their job and/or your practice. Develop tuition reimbursement criteria for post-secondary coursework. A better-educated workforce benefits your practice in productivity and profitability. Create a change of pace by giving employees a chance to work on a project that will benefit them. Advocate for exercise and physical fitness. Depending on your practice location, establish a walking group that gathers once or twice a week at lunch. Promote team involvement in community organizations and events.
Your employees are “internal” patients in a sense. You want the service and support to be the best it can be. Strive to keep your staff feeling as though their job is the best, and your practice is the most fulfilling work environment they could ever have. Obviously this starts with you, the dental leader. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what you need to do to have more enthusiasm, to achieve your goals, to take your practice to a new level. Call me if you need some encouragement. I’ll challenge you and I’ll give you hope.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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