Grow A Happy Practice

May 8, 2008

The cost of replacing an employee can be staggering: Some experts claim it's as much as 150 percent of the employee's annual salary.

The cost of replacing an employee can be staggering: Some experts claim it’s as much as 150 percent of the employee’s annual salary. Ouch! But, forewarned can be forearmed; clearly the best strategy is to keep good employees happy.

How a staffer feels about her job and her skill set has everything to do with wanting to stay on board. Be a good coach and mentor to bring out the best in your staff, and take time to reinforce their loyalty. Here are some positive ways to keep your crew together:

  • Coach when things are calm. Typically, coaching happens when someone is having trouble coping with or managing a task. When this happens, staff will often interpret your sudden interest as “judging their work.” Certainly, it’s necessary to provide support when the need emerges, but coaching staff is often more effective when done proactively, out of the “heat” of the moment.

 

 

  • Make a habit of observing performance on an on-going basis. Be visible to your staff and show a willingness to assist them. Look for opportunities to encourage them or offer constructive feedback; your interest and support will improve productivity and performance by making staff feel their contributions are important to the practice.

 

 

  • Understand employees’ needs. Don’t limit your assessment of a problem to just your own perspective. Find out your employee’s view of the situation. She’ll feel much more invested in the solution when given the opportunity to contribute.

 

 

  • Manage change. Be realistic about the level of change you can expect from your staff. Change is difficult; when it seems constant, staff members will become frustrated and start wondering if they are working in the right place. Start by getting staff input to determine if a proposed change is really necessary. Without their support, you won’t get past the planning stages; in fact, you just might get sabotaged! When instituting a major change, such as a computer conversion, develop a written action plan. Include a timeline of activities and identify who is the primary person responsible for each line item. This is the best way to guarantee that your staff supports your efforts and accepts responsibility for the outcome.

 

 

  • Be a positive influence. This means more than simply taking on the role of cock-eyed optimist. It’s a matter of how you communicate, both verbally and physically. People will rise to the expectations set before them. When a staff member is taking on a new task, make sure you let her know you are confident that she will succeed.

 

 

  • Use positive messages to frame reminders and instructions. It’s better to say, “Remember we’re doing a chart audit next Monday,” instead of, “Don’t forget you need to get ready for the audit on Monday.” Using direct eye contact, open body posture, and nodding your head will keep your listeners attentive, receptive to productive dialogue, and happy to be part of your practice.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant, speaker and author of the popular books, “Secrets of the Best Run Practices, 2006” and “Take Back Time, 2008.” Her focus is practice operations and strategic planning with an emphasis on patient-centered strategies and valuing staff contributions. She is a popular speaker and national and regional conferences. Judy is the owner of Capko & Company, www.capko.com, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She can be reached at judy@capko.com.