06.05.09 Issue #378 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Are You Doing The Right Things To Motivate Your Employees?

I recently came across a survey in which employees and managers ranked their top 10 work motivators. This wasn’t a highly scientific study, but the findings were consistent with previous research I had read. What caught my attention was that the survey highlighted the reason for many of the team problems I hear about in my work with dentists. Here are the two lists:

Employees top 10 work motivators Managers top 10 work motivators
1. Appreciation of work well done 1. Good wages
2. Feeling of being "in on things" 2. Job security
3. Help on personal problems 3. Promotion and growth in company
4. Job security 4. Good working conditions
5. Good wages 5. Interesting work
6. Interesting work 6. Personal loyalty to employees
7. Promotion and growth in company 7. Tactful dicipline
8. Personal loyalty to employees 8. Appreciation of work well done
9. Good working conditions 9. Help on personal problems
10. Tactful discipline 10. Feeling of being "in on things"

Seeing it in black-and-white may make you realize that the #1 thing that your staff needs is feedback on the things they are doing well. Yet what I hear over and over from many dentists is how their staff only wants “more money.” Not true! In this particular survey, money came in as #5. Other studies have shown it to rank as #3 or #4. Wages rarely show up as the most important factor for employee engagement. 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 not about financial involvement. It is about relationship investment. In fact, employees often quit jobs not because of dissatisfaction with the company or work itself, but because of a poor relationship with their boss.

So, 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 you need to:

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 and 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 at). Although this may seem obvious, how many people on your team really know these things, right now? Perhaps more importantly, for which of your team could you write these down now?

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 and motivating peak performance from your team you will yield big dividends in the bottom line.

Create the right environment to sustain employee commitment. Contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

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