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1.30.09 Issue #360 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Does Your Team Make You Want to SCREAM?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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When was the last time you looked at the members of your staff and thought to yourself, “This is an excellent, highly productive team”? If instead you’re more likely to gaze upon them and quietly lament, “Why can’t these people get their act together?” your employee systems aren’t as fine-tuned as they should be. You may, in fact, have a truly sparkling staff that just needs a little polishing to shine as a team. Follow these steps and bring all new lusters to that so-so staff.

First step, share your vision for your practice and explain how each position plays an essential role in achieving that vision. Now, before your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of creating a vision, let me explain why this is important. The vision serves as your compass that points all of you in the same direction. It’s the driving principle that makes being a member of your team more than just another job.

Establish reasonable goals for the practice. These are essential for encouraging employees to achieve their best. However, take care to establish goals that stretch the team’s ability but are not so far beyond reach that the staff feels they are unattainable. Everyone needs finish lines to run toward and stars to reach for. There is far more satisfaction in any job when specific goals are identified and ultimately met than merely going through the motions of just another day in just another practice.

From the big picture to the finer details, each employee also needs to know exactly what you expect her/him to accomplish in her/his job. If the group can’t seem to get it together, maybe they’re not entirely sure what each person is supposed to get done. Provide every employee with a clear job description. Define the job that each employee is responsible for performing. Specify the skills that the person in the position should have, and outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. This enables individual employees to better understand their roles as well as how they fit into the overall success of the team.

Establish individual performance goals for each employee. With input from the team member, establish individual goals that complement practice goals, such as increasing collection ratio, improving accounts receivables, expanding production, reducing time to prepare treatment rooms and increasing clinical skills.

Give feedback early and often. Remember, the vast majority of employees want to know how they are doing and if they are meeting your expectations. Ongoing feedback is essential in helping to guide employees constructively, to help them problem solve, to direct them over obstacles and, most important, to encourage them. Feedback is what you give to employees publicly to recognize something they do well and privately to redirect them if they are moving off course. Feedback is ongoing; it doesn’t happen once a year or once every six months—that would be performance reviews.

Performance reviews are given on a schedule, typically at least twice a year, and more frequently with new staff. These provide opportunities to sit down one on one with individual team members and discuss their overall performance and their progress toward achieving their goals.

Performance reviews are one of the most effective tools in measuring employee success. Take steps to ensure your office has a formalized performance review process. At a minimum, appraise performance in these areas:

  1. Following instructions, cooperation, quality of work, initiative, innovation, time management, communication, flexibility
  2. Work ethics
  3. Attitude
  4. General characteristics, e.g. professional appearance, verbal skills, ability to work under pressure, organization skills, ability to prioritize
  5. Attendance

And finally, applaud your rising stars. Acknowledge excellent performance often and celebrate success regularly. Thank employees sincerely and inspire that once so-so staff to be super.

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