2.5.16 Issue #726 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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3 Steps to Warming Up Your Practice Climate
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

Workplace climate is the atmosphere that employees and patients experience when they are in your office. Research across all industries indicates that a positive work climate can account for a nearly 30% increase in financial results. It also has been found that 50-70% of work climate is determined by the style of the leader. In other words, you have a HUGE impact on the workplace environment.

How would you categorize the climate in your practice these days?

• Warfare
• Peaceful Co-Existence
• Active Mutual Support

If warfare, you’re in serious trouble. Conflict will drain productivity and cripple your practice. Wishing and hoping that it will go away is fantasy-thinking. Unaddressed conflict only increases in intensity. It results in marginal performance, creates poor patient service and ultimately drives out good employees. Workplace climate has been shown to be the single most important factor influencing employee well-being.

If your practice is experiencing negativity, stress, and poor employee attitudes, you’ve been negligent. Either you’re aggressive and model bad behavior, or you’ve stuck your head in the sand and allowed problems to fester and grow. The remedy is basic. Get to the root cause and ensure that all staff can work with dignity and respect in order to have a positive workplace experience.

Peaceful co-existence is better than warfare, but you still need to step up to the leadership plate. You’re getting less than optimal performance from your staff. Granted, the back-biting and snipping are absent and that’s a good thing. However, if your employees are merely ‘co-existing’ that means they’re doing just enough to get by. They’re watching the clock. They’re likely to be taking care of personal business on company time. Employees who co-exist don’t go the extra mile, for one another or for patients…or for you. They hold back the extra effort they could bring to their jobs.

If your practice climate is one of active mutual support, congratulations! You’ve enabled your employees to move from merely “doing tasks” to true “engagement.” The benefits of office unity are plentiful - improved patient care and service, increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty, stimulated creativity and profitability. Happy employees are more likely to accept ownership of their responsibilities, and much more inclined to do whatever it takes. Attracting patients is easier in an environment of hospitality.

The good news is that creating this kind of positive, enthusiastic climate is within your grasp. It takes strong leadership and a willingness to modify your actions as follows.

1. Accept Responsibility for the Climate in Which You Ask People to Work
Each day before you walk in the door, check your mood. If it’s anything short of positive, take a minute to shift gears. Deep breathing helps to clear the mind. Get an image of what it feels like when things go smoothly and successfully through the day. Be intentional and model the kind of behavior you want from employees and patients. As the leader of the practice, you set the tone. And whether you realize it or not, employees and patients are watching you. They take their cue from you. If you’ve shown bad behavior, apologize and strive to do better in the future. Seek peer or professional support.

2. Get Engaged With Your Employees
This doesn’t mean you need to befriend everyone in your office, but you do need to schedule time for employee management. I recommend 30 minutes a day. Your first reaction is likely, “Are you nuts? You want me to give up 2.5 billable hours a week to do what?” No, I’m not kidding and I guarantee that you’ll get some pretty immediate returns on your investment of time. By devoting as few as 30 minutes a day to talking with, observing, and training employees there will be fewer errors and interruptions, increased billings, and higher productivity overall.

When you engage with your employees, encourage them to share ideas, information, reactions and perspectives. Listen to them and involve them in decision making. Build consensus. Set clear goals for each individual employee. In doing so you demonstrate respect for what people think, you keep disagreements constructive and you create urgency about action.  

3. Have Conversations That You’ve Been Avoiding
Team meetings are no substitute for one-on-one talks. A blanket statement about the importance of showing up to work on time is rarely heard by the one person who is chronically late. If you need to address an issue with an employee, schedule a 15 minute conversation with him/her. Of course you will prepare in advance and even have some notes about what you want to say. Focus on performance not personality. Give specific behavioral examples of what and how you want him/her to do things differently. Agree to talk again in 1-2 weeks as follow-up.

These are the basic premises that foster extraordinary performance. By committing to follow these three steps, your office will experience global warming in the most positive sense.

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

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