11.27.09 Issue #403 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Increase Your Profitability by 25%
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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As we head into the holiday season and mark the end of a year that many are quite happy to draw the curtain on, more than a few doctors are struggling with how to reward their teams this year. My advice: redefine your definition of reward.

Rewards are a means of recognizing that an employee has done their job very well. They are personal expressions of your gratitude. Certainly, the holidays provide an opportunity for you to acknowledge your employees’ hard work and dedication. But now is not the time for you to “make up” for a year’s worth of working through lunch more days than not, disregarding your staff’s personal lives, or being generally rude and disrespectful to your team. The annual holiday party does not excuse you from saying “thank you,” “good job,” “I appreciate you,” “you are an important member of the team,” etc. throughout the rest of the year.  Rather, the holidays merely cap off a rewards and recognition program that you should be following from January 1 through December 31.

It’s widely acknowledged that managing and motivating staff is, for most dentists, your biggest practice headache. Yet some dentists view a reward program as nothing more than recognizing employees for what they should be doing in the course of their jobs. In actuality, reward and recognition programs are shown to have a huge impact on business productivity. According to data from leading pollsters, including Gallup, Harris and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses that recognize and reward employees effectively are 25% more profitable. Conversely, the productivity of employees that feel like unappreciated cogs-in-the-company- wheel is nearly 50% lower, on average, than the productivity of employees that feel appreciated.

Developing a reward-for-performance philosophy has other advantages to the dental practice as well. Employees who participate in reward programs that are tied to a well-defined performance measurement system tend to develop more of an ownership attitude in the success of the practice. They are more likely to exhibit innovative behavior, actively seeking ways to improve performance within their job description. They also tend to perform more effectively as a team.

That being said, a reward program must be very well thought out. Among the key factors to be considered:  What are the practice's objectives? How should results be measured? What level of performance is expected? What types of rewards are offered? Who is eligible? In addition, there must be a distinct relationship between what an employee accomplishes and the reward received. There should be a reasonably short time span between the superior performance and receipt of the reward. For example, if the Patient Coordinator achieves a 92% patient retention after 30 days based on a goal of 85%, the reward should be given after 30 days, not at the end of a quarter.

The reward must be of perceived significance in order for the employee to have the desire to step up performance. Note that I said "step-up" performance. You are not rewarding them for doing their job. It's also essential to realize that staff members will view the value of rewards differently. Some would place a high value on a personal letter of recognition while others might perceive that as useless. Moreover, what may be meaningful to you may not be meaningful to your staff. For example, you may think that bringing the team to the Chicago Midwinter Meeting in February is just fabulous. Yet for some employees with children, going out of town for a number of days may be a hardship and not a reward. 

The true worth of a reward is in the eyes of the beholder. Because we all have different needs and wants, no single reward will be treasured by everyone, which makes rewards more challenging to design and manage. To determine the best motivating reward for your staff members, involve your team in the process. Explain to them the objectives discussed above and invite them to help you determine what types of rewards may work best for both the individuals and the group as a whole.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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