6.13.14 Issue #640 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Build-in Summer Fun
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

The official start of summer is next week. For me it triggers memories of being a kid. Splashing around in a plastic pool on the lawn. The smell of freshly mowed grass and Coppertone sunscreen. Being outdoors at dusk waiting to see the lightning bugs come out and sparkle. No homework.

As a responsible, achievement-minded professional it's likely that you've lost touch with all the joys that summer used to bring you. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. How are you supposed to find room for fun? Your dental office is a place where people need to accomplish work. It isn’t supposed to be an eight-hour-long play date.

Yet research shows that the most productive employees are the ones who enjoy being at work. Having fun at the office isn’t always appropriate, and it certainly doesn’t jive with everyone’s style, but the benefits are plentiful. Improved patient care and service. Increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty. Creativity and profitability! Happy employees are more likely to accept ownership of their responsibilities, and much more inclined to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes. Attracting patients is easier in an environment of hospitality.

You CAN create a more jovial office environment and still mean business in real terms. As with most things, leaders need to set the example - so get back in touch with your inner child and build-in some summer fun. Here are some ways.

Lighten Up
People look to you to set the tone for the office. You have the power to decide whether you're going to be a catalyst for positive energy. Too many leaders fall victim to "professionalism" - a formal and aloof demeanor, serious facial expression, a no-nonsense approach to work. You can learn to take yourself lightly and still take your job seriously. Laugh at yourself. Demonstrate your humanity and openness. Encourage others to do the same.

Appreciate Good Humor When It Happens
Funny things happen all the time, but if you are obsessed with left-brain analytical thought you'll miss those moments. Laughter increases oxygen, endorphins, and blood flow to the brain. Employees who are in good spirits think more clearly and make better decisions. They are more accepting of others. Laughter creates a bond that brings people together. 

Circulate Fun and Funny Things Daily
Collect and share your favorite cartoons and jokes. Create a Joke Board or a Humor Newsletter. Put fun things and activities in the staff room. This allows people to take their mind off the seriousness of the job for a short period, so they come back to work with a more positive and balanced perspective. Stock the staff room with “fun” toys such as Silly Putty, building blocks, Slinky, Nerf balls, foam darts, a basketball hoop, butcher paper and crayons or markers.

Plan a Fun Office Activity at Least Once a Month
There’s no substitute for spending time together. Schedule affordable social events. Go to a bowling alley during lunch. See a movie. Organize pot-luck meals, arcade outings. The camaraderie will spill over into the job. If possible, include family members in some of these types of activities. 

Let Patients Know That You Are a Fun Dental Office
Organize fun events, dress-up theme days, share funny things with patients. Give employees tools to create a fun relationship with patients - stickers for children, dog biscuits for their pets, humorous buttons with your practice logo. This makes work more fun plus it strengthens patient loyalty. Print fun greeting cards for employees to give to patients and vendors.

Spruce Up the Office
You don't need to do a big renovation to increase the appeal of coming to work. Fresh flowers and live plants bring the outside in. Nature has a calming influence on us. Flora in the workplace promotes creativity as well as empathy. Consider the power of pleasant scents. Our sense of smell is linked to our limbic system...and that has an impact on what we feel, what we buy and how we act.

Be Sincere
If you show up Monday morning with a transplanted Robin Williams persona, staff will be cynical about your newfound attempts to lighten the office mood. Be yourself. Practice your own brand of humor. Start slowly with a few activities and communicate your desire to create a more relaxed workplace. Don’t expect things to turn around overnight. 

Still, beware: As silly as it sounds, on-the-job fun needs to be taken seriously. It's good only in moderation and in appropriate form (non-sexist, non-racist, non-religious humor). Taken to extremes, it can hinder productivity. But if you put fun into your practice wisely, you’ll build some joy into your day. And the results will have you laughing…all the way to the bank.

If you need a ‘fun injection’ for your office, contact me at nhaller@mckenziemgmt.com

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at nhaller@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here

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