Written by Jeff Russell, Author of Secrets to a Successful Practice & Executive Director of the IAPAM
So you’ve hired the perfect team, now you can rest—right? Unfortunately not! For most people, when they start a new role, they are very excited and want to do their best. However, if you don’t keep encouraging your team, they will certainly disintegrate into a dysfunctional team and you will need author, Patrick Lencioni’s book, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and the accompanying workbook to get out of that hole!
Why is your workplace culture important? Why is maintaining a great team important? Well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics,  those who are between 25-34 years have an average job tenure of only 2.8 years. If you want to hire for the long-term, you want to take note of why people leave. The goal is to create an engaging practice, where team members enjoy working and want to come to work every day.
The Importance of Communicating Your Practice’s Goals to Team Members
To create an engaging practice, your team members must know the following:
- Why you exist—and get excited about it
- Clearly know what is expected of them
- Receive recognition and appreciation
This all begins with a new hire onboarding process, as well as an established routine of practice team member communication. For team member communication, you will follow a process of having a combination of a daily five-minute meeting, weekly or bi-weekly meetings, and monthly one-on-one meetings with each team member.
The key to a successful practice is directly tied to your ability to communicate with your team to maintain your workplace culture. If your team doesn’t hear from you daily or weekly, they will assume the worst and create their own communication between themselves. Think about it, it’s human nature to want to do a good job, and if no one tells them they are doing a good job, they may assume they are not and make adjustments that may be very bad for you, your practice and your patients.
Five Conditions for Superior Employee Performance
According to Jim Collins and Bill Lazier, in their book, Beyond Entrepreneurship, they identified five conditions where people tend to execute well:
- People execute well if they’re clear on what they need to do.
- People execute well if they have the right skills for the job.
- People execute well if they’re given freedom and support.
- People execute well if they’re appreciated for their efforts.
- People execute well if they see the importance of their work.
The goal is to hit every one of those human needs, so your team members feel valued and part of a cohesive team.
You have limited time, so where should you focus your efforts to ensure you have the best team possible? In the book, First, Break All The Rules, the authors suggest that great managers focus on answering the following six questions your team members will all have:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
Have a Recognition and Appreciation Plan
In workplace culture, a common quote in why people leave an organization is that they “don’t leave the company, they leave their manager.” A major reason they leave their manager is because of a lack of appreciation and recognition.
Not everyone is perfect, and there will be times where you will need to coach your team out of bad habits, so not every interaction is going to be positive. However, you want to make an effort so that most of your interactions with them are positive. The Gottman Institute has a “Magic Ratio” that says the happiest marriages have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions, meaning that for every negative interaction during conflict, a stable and happy marriage has five (or more) positive interactions. For a leader, you should have at least a 3:1 positive to negative interaction’s ratio with your team members.
During your on-boarding phase, you want to learn how they like to receive praise. Some people are fine to have it in public; others strongly prefer private communication. Coaching and development conversations should always be done in private.
Before praising in front of the entire team, also recognize all the team members if they were involved. You want everyone who contributed to be recognized; otherwise, you may find your team members won’t want to help each other out if they feel their contributions are not being recognized.
You may not be used to giving praise all the time, so if this is you, consciously think about recognizing and showing appreciation every time you see your team members doing something right. You want to encourage those positive behaviors, so it becomes ingrained in your workplace culture. You can also try creating some electronic calendar reminders of showing appreciation verbally daily, sending out a written card once a month and on everyone’s birthday.
If you are ready to grow your practice or are preparing to start your first practice, check out the IAPAM’s Practice Startup Workshop.