Money Can't Buy Motivation - But "Rewards" Can
It’s summer-time, and I would be willing to bet that you and your team are thinking more about vacations than practice goals and objectives. Seven months into 2011 and the luster of the “New Year” with all its promises to do this and pledges to do that has likely given way to “status quo” mode. It’s time to shake things up for the better.
Summer is an excellent time to regroup and reward your team. You want to keep them as motivated and excited about the last half of the year as they were in the first half. After all, a motivated team is essential in retaining quality patients. And increased productivity is dependent upon staff who understand that excellence translates into profits. Performance rewards are an ideal way to recognize an employee that has gone beyond doing their job well. What’s more, rewards are personal expressions of your gratitude, which can reap enormous dividends over time.
But what do I mean by “rewards”? Most importantly, rewards are not raises. Too many dentists consider annual raises to be “rewards.” Consequently, they are continually adding to practice overhead. While raises are temporarily appreciated, there is nothing “special” about them. They don’t motivate employees. They are not an incentive to go above and beyond. In fact, an outstanding team member begins to question why s/he should put forth extra effort or work to come up with new ideas or improvements in systems if they are seldom or never recognized. If there is no feedback and no reward from the dentist and the star performer gets the same raise as everyone else, why should they bother?
Conversely, establishing a reward-for-performance philosophy has several advantages for the dental practice. Employees who participate in reward programs that are integrated into well-defined performance measurement systems 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. And they perform more effectively as a team.
Consider a few points when developing a program, to ensure that it is best suited for your practice. First, ask yourself, what do you want to reinforce? In other words, what actions or results do you want to reward? For example, if you want to reward excellent job performance, excellence means going beyond merely doing the job; it’s doing the job extremely well. It may be expertly handling a difficult patient, ensuring that the schedule is booked to meet specific production goals on a regular - not occasional - basis. It means consistently exhibiting very positive and helpful attitudes. It is demonstrating superior patient service during every patient/practice interaction. It’s taking ownership of system improvements, not just criticizing what isn’t working. Having a clear idea of what actions or behaviors you want to reinforce is essential.
Next, consider whom you want to reward. Do you want to reward individuals and the entire team? Certainly, you have standout employees who deserve to be recognized; star performers need a little star treatment now and then to keep them motivated. But don’t forget, true success requires that everyone on the team be engaged and working toward excellence. For example, you can establish team goals for specific accomplishments, such as reducing patient attrition, which requires everyone’s effort. When the goal is met, take the entire team out to dinner and celebrate. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be to the local favorite pizza parlor. It’s about putting fun and excitement into meeting the challenges you need to meet to be successful.
What kind of a program will be well-received by the team? One of the best ways to find out what types of rewards will be most appreciated by your team is to ask them and involve them in designing the reward program. Be sure to establish a budget and let employees know that resources are limited, so creativity is important. It can be very effective for the doctor to start “on the spot” rewards with small gift cards of $5 or $10. This will not only be greatly appreciated, but it is an excellent way to encourage staff input and ideas into the program.
A well-constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives. Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals.
Next week, boost practice profits and productivity.
Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.
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