Ah yes, the holidays are upon us. They should be the opportunity for doctor and staff to celebrate another successful year as a thriving and productive team. They should provide the chance for the group, which has carefully monitored the systems, to plan a celebration that the practice can afford and the entire team, including the doctor, can enjoy. And a round, bearded man in a red suit should soar through the moonlit night bringing gifts to all and to all a goodnight.
Unfortunately, what should be seldom is. December is often the most stressful month of the year and it’s not just because you’re busy checking the list of who’s naughty and who’s nice. Production looks as bleak as mid winter. Patients are canceling appointments giving you as many silent days as silent nights. The clinical staff is more interested in decking the halls than dealing with patients. And collections are still, still, still not happening.
Doctors, meanwhile, are feeling added pressure. It’s the time of year in which you are expected to show appreciation to your team members. Scrape your pockets, dig under the seat cushions, and hand over a chunk of cash. It may feel like a pound of flesh, but at least you’ve fulfilled your obligation. This is no easy undertaking. Like Santa’s overflowing bag of goods, many have to stuff a year’s worth of thanks into one single gift, hence the pressure to make it really, really special – more zeros than you can begin to afford.
Indeed, often doctors use this season of giving in a desperate attempt to make up for the long days, 15-minute lunches, lack of leadership and direction, and near total absence of team appreciation that is standard operating procedure the rest of the year.
But you have it all planned out. You’ll treat them to a nice lunch, maybe order something in from the sub shop down the street. You’ll put on the red hat, maybe throw in a little “Ho, Ho, Ho,” And you’ll hand each individual employee their very special bonus gift. You can see the looks on their faces now, each one carefully opens the envelope and examines the amount written on that nice, fat bonus check. Yes, siree, Santa Claus has come to town. And you should be numero uno boss in their eyes … for about the next 30 seconds.
Unfortunately the reception to your outpouring of generosity is more likely to feel like someone just let Frosty the Snowman in. Even if you do it up big with limousines and expensive dinners and gifts, showing appreciation once a year will cost you far more than if you would step back and take time each day to recognize the work of your team. Congratulate Dianne on her excellent performance when she fills that last minute hole in the schedule. Recognize Mary in the staff meeting for whittling accounts receivables down to acceptable levels. Thank your assistant in front of the patient for taking truly superior bitewing x-rays. Celebrate your hygienists’ success in incorporating an interceptive periodontal therapy program.
Next week, the perfect gift isn’t always green.
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