7 Ways to Mentor Staff

December 26, 2011

Mentoring might be one of the least costly ways to cultivate professional development of your staff

Great mentors serve as role models, counselors, and cheerleaders to their employees. And in healthcare specifically, mentoring might be one of the easiest, least costly ways to cultivate professional development of your staff. We asked the pros to share their top mentoring techniques.

1. Ask for Input

When staff members feel respected and part of your team, they will be more inclined to work hard, compromise, and seek out improvements. Asking your staff to come up with solutions to problems your practice is facing shows you respect and value their opinions and it bolsters their confidence. "If you are going to make a decision that affects them directly, ask them for their input before implementing the change," says Wisconsin-based family physician and Practice Notes contributor Jennifer Frank.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Compliments are much more than ego boosters. Telling your employees when they've done a great job encourages them to continue to work hard. "If you had a really good day because of your staff just doing a nice job or being particularly on top of things, say thank you and tell them how their contributions helped you to provide better patient care," Frank says.

3. Build on Strengths

Most people enjoy what they're good at, so take note of an employee who, say, has great problem-solving abilities or a knack for dealing with difficult patients, and be sure their strengths are used often and wisely.

4. Encourage Opportunities for Growth

Encourage your employees to pursue additional schooling, training, or conferences outside the office. If you challenge your staff members to continue learning and developing, they will stay inspired, motivated, and intellectually stimulated at work. And, the additional skills and knowledge they acquire will improve your practice overall.

5. Help Them Take Ownership of Your Practice

Want your staff to do more than just clock in and clock out at designated times? Encourage them to take ownership of your practice's day-to-day operations. "Be certain that they understand the huge responsibility they have for the success of your practice," advises family physician Russell Faust, who contributes to Practice Notes. "Include your staff when you put together your mission statement, and when you are brainstorming your brand and marketing strategy. You will be surprised at their insights, and they will appreciate being included. And, more importantly, they will take ownership of your success."

6. Attend a Seminar

Consultant Susanne Madden of The Verden Group suggests taking your staff to one-day, off-site personal growth seminars (such as Daniel Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence" seminars). These events are tailored to help attendees identify their strengths and weaknesses and overcome barriers holding them back in their careers.

7. Lead by Example

No one likes a leader who is routinely late, disorganized, or slacking in some other capacity. Leading by example is one of the best ways to educate staff on how to act in the professional world. Just make sure your efforts are continuous. "Mentoring is ongoing; it's not something you do once or twice," says Madden.

Marisa Torrieri is associate editor of Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is associate editor of Physicians Practice. She can be reached at Aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Physicians Practice.