By: Trude Henderson
We’d like to draw your attention to yet another article, “Seven Ways Managers Motivate and Demotivate Employees” (Entrepreneur, November 2, 2016), by an all-time favorite of ours, Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Bradberry maintains that most organizations are fully aware of the importance of keeping employees motivated (it impacts ROI when they’re not) but nevertheless, most contain managers who fail to do this. We are convinced that dental practices, both large and small, should be concerned about this. The author cites these figures: management is responsible for 70% of an employee’s motivation, and the same percentage of employees view themselves as unmotivated (Gallup); motivated workers were 87% less likely to quit than unmotivated workers (the Corporate Leadership Council). Says Bradberry: “It is no wonder employees don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.”
Do you, the practice manager, want to keep motivated employees in your dental office?
Then Bradberry suggests that you cease the following:
- Making needlessly oppressive rules. Bradberry makes the point that gratuitously strict rules can drive employees to leave the organization. We would add, based on our experience, that a healthy balance between procedures and oversight are vitally important because dental office cultures driven by too many rules (a situation sometimes described by employees as a feeling that “the local sheriff is in town”), as well as unnecessary or outdated ones, can stifle employee initiative. This includes the impromptu kind involved in on-the-spot problem-solving that helps improve the customer experience, ensuring that your patients will keep coming back.
- Not giving credit where credit is due. Bradberry says that rewards for good performance (whether in the form of an increase in salary or kudos, depending on individual preference), is key to keeping employees, especially top performers, happy: “Rewarding individual accomplishments shows that you’re paying attention.” We have verified this via our own research and experience. Encouraging and rewarding positive behaviors are critical to team motivation (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). For example, just saying ‘thank you’ often can help foster resilience and counteract the negative effects of the stresses that accompany life in a dental office. We have found time and again that dental employees who feel appreciated are not only happier but are more likely to endure the bumps in the road, while continuing to move forward.
- Hiring and promoting poor fits. When managers hire people who aren’t in the same league as current staff, the latter may feel less motivated. And when unfit candidates are promoted, other employees may feel slighted and start thinking of going elsewhere. We wholeheartedly agree that hiring the wrong people can have unwelcome consequences. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest link. What does a weak link mean for your dental practice? Individuals with negative attitudes and low energy levels should be regarded as weak links who can adversely affect your customer experience, team motivation, sales and ultimately, your bottom line. We recommend being particularly cautious when considering promoting a technical team member into a sales role (i.e., Dental Assistant (DA) to Treatment Coordinator (TC)). Although many dental assistants and treatment coordinators are great with helping patients, they may lack the skill-sets or desire to understand sales. And promoting the wrong person or making a move out of desperation could cost your dental practice thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- Treating everyone, whatever their performance, the same. Simply put, top performers will be disheartened when they see malingerers promoted.
- Accepting substandard performance. According to Bradberry, second-rate work can undermine that of everyone else, even that of top performers. However, we should add that, before pointing fingers at any individual, it is vitally important to fully understand its cause(s). Top-heavy schedules, exorbitant demands and tight deadlines afflict many dental practices. Some employees handle pressure well and even perform better under such conditions, but others succumb to consistent or rising pressures. High stress levels can prove detrimental to employee motivation, negatively impacting both the quality of work and the customer experience in a dental office. Sometimes a simple scheduling adjustment (for either a patient or an employee), or fine-tuning the flow of patients, can make all the difference.
- Breaking promises. Managers should do all they can to meet any commitments they make. Doing this, employees will view them as honest and responsible; failing to do this, managers can appear “slimy, uncaring and disrespectful,” setting a bad example to the whole organization.
- Callousness. Managers seen as uncaring – those who don’t bother to “celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times and challenge people, even when it hurts,” will almost always have to deal with low retention rates. Bradberry adds, “It’s impossible to work for someone eight-hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your productivity.”
Tina Lovre, Team Leader at Orthoworks in San Francisco, has this to say: At the end of the day it’s not the numbers and procedures that motivate people, it’s the fact that you care enough to get to know them, listen to them and inspire them to find meaningful ways to contribute utilizing their unique talents. When you capture the hearts and minds of people, truly amazing things can happen.
Bradberry devotes the rest of his article to discussing the ways managers can help motivate their subordinates. We will cover these in our next blog, and apply them specifically to how practice leaders can increase dental team engagement.
Follow Dr. Bradberry on LinkedIn or on Twitter @talentsmarteq
Connect with Trude Henderson on LinkedIn