Ali Oromchian, JD, LLM, discusses facilitating optimum performance and accentuating the positive
When evaluating your orthodontic practice, you might consider your assets to be your property, your building, your supplies, and your finances. However, your most important asset is your team!
Your staff is the glue that holds your practice together. They run your operations, manage your patients, and assist you in being the most efficient orthodontic practice possible. What would you do without them? Stop and read that sentence again, slowly.
What would you do without them?
It would be an understatement to say that your life would be a lot more complicated without your employees. Similarly, having inefficient and ineffective employees can be just as bad as not having any employees at all. To be sure that you have and retain the best employees possible, there are several strategies to facilitate optimum performance while simultaneously building a cohesive team.
1. Understanding job importance
First and foremost, it is important to examine the ways in which your employees perceive their roles in the workplace. This should include an understanding of how your employees view their contributions to the practice. The more integral employees feel, the more likely they are to take their roles more seriously and strive to excel in performance. Conversely, if your employees feel underappreciated or irrelevant in their contributions, you may see patterns of poor performance and insubordination. Once you have had the opportunity to gauge how your employees perceive the importance of their jobs, you can move on to affirming that importance.
Positive reinforcement is a great way to consistently build confidence relating to your staff’s duties in your orthodontic practice. This means acknowledging their worth, value, and contributions either verbally or in writing. These types of supportive affirmations lead to an increase in employees’ understanding of their value and promote a sense of pride within the workplace. Pride leads to action that, when executed efficiently, can lead to success. When each member of your practice feels as though he/she has a hand in its success, that success begins to become a reality.
2. Laying out job expectations and opportunities
Another way you can facilitate employee performance is by setting detailed expectations. One crucial part of a successful orthodontic practice is the development of a thorough employee manual, which outlines specific job expectations and opportunities. Providing your employees with detailed expectations of tasks and duties related to their job will leave little room for miscommunications or misunderstandings regarding job performance. Clarity and precision are keys to ensure that the guidelines in your employee manual are consistently applied.
In addition to job expectations, your manual should also include consequences for when employees do not comply with their responsibilities. Specific clauses relating to consequences can help protect your practice from liability issues. When employees have a tangible means of understanding and attaining great achievements through their work, they have a clear pathway that can lead them there.
3. Committing to regular feedback and open dialogue
In addition to outlining job expectations in your employee manual, you should also provide regular feedback to your employees and opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with management. Your employee manual can only say so much, so it is up to you to fill in any gaps with supplemental conversations and meetings. An easy way to promote these kinds of interactions is by scheduling regular check-ins and opportunities for open discussion and evaluations. It is important to note that different employees might be more receptive to differing styles of discussions, suggestions, and criticism. For instance, some may feel discomfort when discussing constructive criticisms in front of their peers. Others may have no issues with large group discussions. By developing opportunities for various levels of dialogue, you can be sure that you are obtaining a variety of responses from a broader group of employees.
While you should certainly offer regular feedback for all employees, the employees in management roles should have an even more extensive level of communication with you as the employer. As you seek to guide your employees in professional development, it is imperative you consistently promote and facilitate leadership, accountability, and communication. Scheduling frequent meetings and check-ins allows you to build a rapport with your team, resolve issues, and facilitate leadership growth.
4. Developing healthy professional relationships with peers, superiors, and subordinates
In a similar fashion, building healthy relationships between and among peers, superiors, and subordinates can be essential to your orthodontic practice’s success. If your practice’s workplace relationships are on the down-slope, you will need to make certain that your entire practice is not heading in that direction as well. However, if you help to forge relationships that are too tight-knit, you could be placing yourself at risk in other ways. For instance, when relationships in a workplace are overdeveloped, newcomers can find the workplace environment as either unwelcoming or even sometimes hostile. In addition, those kinds of tight-knit relationships could also lead to risky legal implications if they get out of control. You will need to maintain a balance between the above extremes.
How can you maintain a healthy balance? You can include time for positive team-building exercises and extracurricular events. They tend to work out best if you are the one who schedules both. While some practices may send their employees on retreats to develop team-building skills, you can do similar activities in your own space. Examples can easily be found on the Internet. In addition to structured team-building events, it is also a good idea to schedule less-structured “hangout time” for your employees, should they wish to participate. This could be a monthly dinner outing to a place near the office. Having the opportunity to socialize over a meal can help employees decompress together. Regularly having these types of events (i.e., once a quarter) will promote healthy professional relationships not only between you and your employees, but also among all your employees. These activities are also an excellent way to develop leadership skills in your workplace.
5. Inspiring employees through practice values
Lastly, you should evaluate whether you make a positive personal impact on your employees. What are your goals and inspirations related to your orthodontic practice? Do you put your patients first over everything else? Do you seek excellence through providing high-quality services? How do you treat your employees? All too often, a workplace environment suffers from a trickle-down effect. This means that your practice style and behaviors may trickle down to your subordinates. Make sure what trickles down is positive.
Attitude is everything. If you show fear, it can spread like a wildfire. Conversely, if you exhibit confidence, you can build confidence in others just as quickly. You are the one who has complete control over whether you want to show compassion, dedication, and drive in your work ethic and values. When you choose to lead by example and exude these qualities, you might be surprised at the positive results that trickle-down.
Building and maintaining a successful orthodontic practice may seem like a daunting task. If you think about it that way, it is easy to let negativity seep in. The previously mentioned five strategies can assist you in avoiding burnout and facilitate employee performance while building a cohesive team. When you think of the ways in which you can create success in your work, the bottom line always comes back to your employees. By promoting the ideal workplace environment and interactions, your employees’ successes can be successes for you and your practice as well.