Validate Your Way to Practice Success
There's a short film on YouTube called "Validation" - the story of an attendant who dispenses free parking and free compliments. Very quickly his validation process creates a line of people waiting to get into the garage. Everyone wants to get validated.
”Validation” has won several film awards and is definitely worth the 16 minutes it takes to watch it. Cute and fun, it packs a wallop of a message - the need to be acknowledged and appreciated. It is the foundation of human behavior. How we're feeling - and most especially whether or not we feel acknowledged and valued - influences our behavior, consumes our energy and affects our decisions all day long, whether we're aware of it or not.
Many naive employers operate on the mindset that “staff are lucky to have a job.” They erroneously assume that a paycheck or benefits make employees feel valued. Sure, those have an impact. But if you treat employees with a lack of respect, money will not compensate. The fundamental key for people to be excited about coming to work each day is that they feel valued and recognized for their unique contributions.
Unfortunately the struggle to feel valued is one of the least acknowledged issues in organizations, probably because it sounds like “touchy-feely” psychobabble. But it is correlated with retention rates, customer service, individual performance, team performance, business productivity, and even profitability. More important than money, people want to feel valued and respected, to be proud of the place where they work and to get satisfaction from what they are contributing. When they do, they are more engaged and committed.
Fostering recognition in the workplace begins with you, the dental leader. Do you validate yourself? When you feel good about something you've done or said, perhaps an interaction with a patient…stop and acknowledge it. After you complete a difficult treatment, find a way to reward yourself. Give yourself validation. If you aren't validating yourself, it's unlikely that you'll validate others. Dental Leadership Coaching can help you to learn how.
Consider how things might be if you validated people every day…affirmed them for all the good things they do for you in your practice. Think about all the people who inspire and help you. In addition to your staff, there may be a vendor who goes out of his/her way when you need additional supplies. Or the mail carrier who has a great sense of humor and adds levity to stressful days. Patients who refer family members and friends. The employee who straightens out magazines in the waiting room. You may say “they know how I feel” but remember, people can’t read your thoughts so you need to verbalize what you’re thinking and validate them.
In addition to sincere compliments and words of appreciation, validation means being available to support others. It's ok to demand results from your staff as long as you back that up with coaching, training and follow-up. Your job is to bring out the best in your employees. Make sure that you are available to help them. Be visible and spend time with them. Validate your patients by providing a pleasant office environment, being on time for their appointments and going the extra mile to deliver exceptional service.
It is human nature to want to grow and develop. Training and Team Building Retreats are other ways to validate your team. When the economy is tight or when business drops, the tendency is to cut skill-building. If your employees feel that you aren't investing in them from an improvement perspective, they won't feel valued. Without training and development, stagnation and complacency take hold.
True validation needs to be personal and genuine. Furthermore, it's not just noticing what people do, but connecting their actions to something meaningful. It’s easy to build up people and make them feel valuable. It’s just that we get so focused on our own “stuff” that we forget the people around us. Imagine how different your workday would be if your employees validated each other. Show the “Validation” film at your next staff meeting and see what happens. Be sure to let me know too.
Create the right environment that sustains employee commitment and patient loyalty. Contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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