How to Lead Your Team Successfully
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
Most people in leadership roles have knowledge of the concept of treating employees as we want them to treat our clients.
This approach has been shown in many other service industries to be wildly successful. Our team members are in a position that relentlessly demands kindness, patience, compassion, flexibility, and energy. In order to facilitate this level of performance, we must provide the same to our team.
In an ideal work environment, employees are excited and engaged. They understand and believe in the mission of the practice and freely contribute ideas to continually improve their work environment, the care of the patients, and service of the clients. They routinely solve problems and take your business to levels that you never would have dreamed possible. The only way to achieve this goal is to create an environment where your employees feel valued and supported.
Leading and nurturing your team goes far beyond simply being fair, and offering competitive pay and benefits. In fact, many people rank other factors as more important, such as job security, enjoying the work they do, flexibility, and having a supportive boss.
So in order to:
• get the best work out of your team
• increase your employee retention
• attract top talent
—you must ensure that you have created an environment where people really want to work.
Be Supportive and Approachable
Let’s face it—it’s not difficult to find reasons to get grumpy in management. Often the high priority items exceed the number of hours in any given day.
Over time, the stress mounts due to the fact that you’re working so hard and still not able to attend to every need of the practice. You get frustrated, as does your team. It’s not uncommon to be short with the tenth person who walks through your door needing something when you are constantly under so much pressure.
When our client service representatives have handled several difficult clients in a row on a busy day, we expect them to treat the next client as though they are the only client and their need is of utmost importance to the practice. Even though you may not be able to address every concern at once, it pays to take a few minutes to listen. Check your frustration at the door, just as you expect your team to. Treat every employee as though their happiness is important to you, and if you can’t take action right away due to other priorities, explain that. Make sure your team feels that they can come to you with any problems or concerns that they cannot handle on their own.
Be There for Your Staff in Times of Need
Most people at one point or another encounter a personal situation which may require increased flexibility from their workplace. A financial, family, or personal medical crisis can change an employee’s needs and priorities suddenly and dramatically.
While most practices have policies in place for medical or extended leave, going the extra mile for an employee in need will pay off many times over. It is not uncommon for employers to hesitate to be flexible due to the fear of being taken advantage of. The most productive employer-employee relationship is based on mutual trust, support, and flexibility. These types of situations are great opportunities for becoming creative in finding ways to help employees. For example, if you have a team member who needs extended time off, consider providing some work to do from home to allow them a means to stay on the payroll. If you are open to considering the needs of your team members and creative in meeting those needs, they will do the same for your clients.
Ask Questions and Listen to the Answers
Don’t guess what is important to your employees. It likely won’t be what you think and it certainly will vary from person to person.
Routinely perform employee satisfaction surveys. Ask them what they like about their work environment and what they feel could improve. While it is best to obtain specific information from specific people, you won’t be able to suddenly get honest, open feedback from employees if your culture hasn’t encouraged it for quite some time. If you have not spent considerable time cultivating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up, allow them to fill out an online survey anonymously at first. Their thoughts will provide ideas on how to improve the practice that you may never have thought of on your own.
Plan the Experience
Decide what kind of experience you want your employees to have, and make it happen.
Some of the most successful companies begin with the client experience in mind (think Apple or Southwest Airlines) and work backward to make it happen.
What should your employee experience be? Should it be much different than your client experience? Think of what you are committed to providing to your clients- dependable, compassionate, expert service. Consider what you want employment at your hospital to be like:
• What do your employees want their daily work day to be like?
• How do you want them to feel about the practice?
• What do you want them to take away from their experience with your company?
Invest in Your Staff’s Personal Goals
Use your company resources to provide additional learning opportunities for your team members.
Most positions offer CE training, but very few offer an opportunity for the employee to explore or experience something that is important to them personally. For instance, consider allowing an additional CE amount for topics unrelated to veterinary medicine that employees are interested in, or giving them extra paid time off to volunteer at something that is meaningful to them personally. Providing access to experts in financial planning or wellness coaches could assist your employees in making their personal goals a reality. What better way to show your staff how important they are to you than to invest in their personal goals and interests?
A organized company comprised of individuals who feel supported, valued and engaged in their work will consistently deliver outstanding results to clients. Furthermore, the team will support each other and work to help the practice meet its goals and overcome challenges.
What can be more important than working toward that?