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2.29.08 Issue #312 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Want More Employee Motivation In Your Practice?
Tune Into WII-FM

Dentists often complain to me that at least one person in their office “just isn’t motivated”. I tell them that it’s not true. Everyone is motivated by something. The question is what motivates your staff?

Employees are generally more willing to do things that benefit them personally than they are wiling to do things that benefit your practice. I’m not being cynical or negative. It’s a psychological fact about human nature. If you want a higher performing staff, you’ve got to tune into WII-FM, the what’s-in-it-for-me station.

Leadership is about influence. This happens best when you connect what you want employees to do with the benefits they will gain by doing it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that your employees are motivated by the same things as you are. This is rarely true. If you try to persuade your employees by what motivates you, your words will fall on deaf ears. As Aristotle said, “The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own.” 

You don't need to have a Ph.D. in psychology to influence others but you do need to be curious. Take an interest in your employees' comments and actions. Find ways every day to learn about each member of your team. What are the themes behind their words and behaviors? Where do their needs and your needs coincide? How can you use their natural drive to help you to reach your most important practice goals? Now that’s truly a win-win situation.

To answer these questions, temporarily set aside your own beliefs and values. Be careful to avoid being judgmental. You might not always agree with what’s important to an employee but give them the right to their own opinions. When you stay open-minded to different perspectives, you can connect with your staff on a meaningful level. Getting people to talk about what's important to them solidifies relationships. That builds trust and team cohesion.

To be a more effective leader, you may need to modify the way you engage your staff. “Telling” someone what you want them to do is very different from “selling” them on the idea. I am not suggesting that you revert to “high-pressure” sales tactics. By “selling,” I mean look for ways to get your employees emotionally committed to their responsibilities. Focus on the benefits, not the costs. This inspires buy-in rather than compliance.

Let’s take an example. Jenny is your chairside assistant. She’s pleasant. All your patients like her. She’s been with you since you started the practice. She does what you ask her. And therein lies the problem. She only does what she is asked to do. She rarely initiates any clean-up outside her immediate area...unless you ask her. She’s compliant but you want her to be motivated to go beyond her individual duties. You wish she would assume a higher level of responsibility. After all, she’s been with you for many years. But whenever she has extra time you find her up at the front desk talking with your receptionist.

What is Jenny telling you through her behavior? You might say, “She’s lazy.” If you settle for that short-sighted explanation, you’re going to miss an opportunity to learn about her. You need to look beyond your judgment of Jenny’s chattiness and be curious about what drives her.

It’s likely that Jenny is demonstrating a social nature. She values interaction with people. She’s probably an extravert. If you want her to initiate additional responsibilities on her own, assign her to activities that involve others because that’s what motivates her. Be creative. Think of your office operations and list the tasks that are interpersonally based. Jenny’s much more likely to get those things done withoutbeing asked.

Be a more inspirational leader with your team. Start by finding out what’s important to each and every one of your team. See them for who they are. Look at things fromtheir point of view. Adjust your strategy to go withnot against – their natural motivators. When you use this approach you will find that it’s easy and even fun to motivate others. You’ll be helping them get what they want while simultaneously accomplishing your own objectives. 

Tune into the WII-FM signal, and stop listening to static.

Create the right environment that sustains profitability through employee commitment and engagement.
Contact Dr. Haller at

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