Let’s face it—as business owners you (and your partners) are probably the most committed members in the practice, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly natural since the partners are the bosses, the practitioners, the head honchos. What you do need to understand is that your office staff can help grow your practice or do more harm than good. Put these following techniques to use and your office staff will likely have the mentality that they are working with you, not for you.
1. Encourage a teammate mentality.
You’re leading a team of employees that must work together and make your practice the best it can be. From the front office to the back office, everyone needs to work as one cohesive unit. To get there, it’s up to you to encourage teamwork. So how do you do that? By establishing your employees as teammates and not coworkers. One way to do this is by holding monthly office meetings to review important information with the whole staff—this gives everyone the sense that their opinion and position matters to you. If it matters to you, it will begin to matter to everyone else.
2. Be a role model.
Your staff will take your lead, so it’s important you don’t model behavior you don’t wish to see in your employees. Come to work on time, smile, make conversation with everyone, and establish an open-door policy, just to name a few easy techniques. If the staff sees a positive, energetic leader, it will trickle down. On the other hand, it’s also important to deal with negative and unwelcome behavior in a timely manner. Make sure to get the full story, and investigate all aspects before dealing with any issues. If you let things go, others may start to think you don’t mind, and their performance may become an issue as a result.
3. Set expectations and policies before you need them.
Hindsight is 20/20 (pun intended). Usually, if we’re repeating that phrase to ourselves, it’s because we either goofed up and had a tough learning experience from it, or we’re counseling someone else who goofed up and had a tough learning experience. Hiccups in the day-to-day management of a business will happen. However, with a little foresight and planning, you can help reduce the mishaps creating a more streamlined office environment. To do this, you’ll need some time to sit and plan alongside the staff who is directly involved in each aspect of your business. How do you handle something as simple as a disabled fax machine? What do you do if an order isn’t correct? How will you handle an employee who doesn’t show up for work? How much notice do you need if someone wants to take a vacation day? These things will come up, and it will make your business run a whole lot smoother if you have a policy in place.
4. Set and communicate goals.
Setting goals is important for any business, big or small. It’s also a good idea to keep your staff on board and in the know. If everyone knows you aim to increase your patient volume by 10%, you’ll have a larger number of team members helping you achieve that goal. Likewise, ask your staff to come up with personal goals, as well. In your team meetings, you can share progress, celebrate victories, and encourage tough losses. This encourages a “family” environment helping your practice grow, ensuring staff turnover stays to a minimum, and providing an overall positive work environment for everyone who walks through your door.
5. Provide constructive feedback.
For anyone to understand what is needed to perform better and grow with your practice, they need counsel and feedback. It’s important to remember that constructive feedback is the best. It’s an easy way to encourage your staff to improve in the areas they may be weaker in. Conduct annual performance evaluations and make sure to set aside time to review the evaluation with each employee one-on-one. It’s even better if you file these evaluations away, and refer back to them during the next performance review. That way, you can counsel your staff members in how much they’ve grown over the past year. Encourage them throughout the year to show you truly care about their contributions to the practice.
Keep these simple techniques in mind when determining how you want to manage your staff. Leading with compassion and a sense of teamwork will take your company culture to a whole new level.