Keeping Your Staff Happy and Motivated
Keeping your good people and weeding out the bad eggs is a process and not an event. With the right management techniques, a little skill, and timing, you’ll avoid the dreaded firing and also the dread of having your top people leave the practice. Here are a few tips.
- Be sure and give annual reviews to your entire staff. Document reviews and give your staff a few pats on the back along with a few recommendations for improvement. Don’t view the recommended improvements as a confrontational act. It’s valuable feedback for your staff member to grow. If you tell your great people how great they are and let your poor people that they need to improve, your great people will love you and the poor people may just look for another job rather than face a future firing.
- In your annual reviews, give your good people above average raises and give your poor people no raises. The good people will be excited and your under-performers will look for another job. You obviously will only want to give no raises to those who are on the road to a future firing.
- Praise in public and reprimand in private is a rule of thumb that has always served me well. Praising someone for a great job they did with a patient, or thanking your chair-side assistant for helping out with the front desk shows the staff members you recognize their contribution. It also shows the staff what type of behavior you are looking for.
By reprimanding in private, you save your staff the embarrassment of being “in trouble” in front of the entire staff. No one wants to get in trouble in front of everyone. They may just take it out on you and the other staff members will think you are not a very nice person. The exception is when the entire staff has done something wrong that needs to be corrected. That is when you have a staff meeting and correct the behavior and/or scold the entire staff in a tactful and professional way.
- Recognize great individual and staff performance with a simple reward. It’s amazing what a staff lunch, gift certificate, etc., can do to staff or individual morale.
- It’s a good idea to bring in cookies, and ice cream or buy an occasional lunch for the staff for no reason whatsoever. This makes things unpredictable and is always a nice surprise. I was famous for bringing in root beer and ice cream and serving everyone root beer floats on a nice hot sunny day.
- Let your staff plan a fun event away from the practice. Give them a budget of a nominal amount, $300 for example, and let them know you can plan the event by leaving the practice a couple of hours early. A Mariner game, Treasure Hunt, movie, or other Team Building event goes a long way to break up the monotony of just doing dentistry every day for an entire year.
Following these tips will help keep your staff happy. It will also keep them motivated. If they like where they work, they’ll treat the practice as if they own it and work a little harder.