I hear practice owners complain that team members are ‘stealing hours’. Yet these very practice owners are obviously focussing on every minute themselves.
I hear practice owners complain that team members leave “the minute it hits five o’clock”, yet they resist paying overtime.
I hear practice owners complain that team members scrutinise their payslips, working conditions and seem to assume the worst. Yet that same practice owner scrutinises the employee behaviour and performance, seeming to assume the worst.
What is the solution to this common dilemma?
I remember when I first owned my dental practice how I faced the challenge of getting team members ‘on board’. I started with the attitude that I know many others have: “employees should just do as I ask because I pay them.”
I confidently assure you that such an attitude will be your downfall. It is a flawed and unhelpful principle.
If you want to shift the nit-picking, time-stealing culture of your team, it must start with you.
To date, I imagine you have used one or several of the following strategies to get your team members on board with your agenda:
- Provide feedback to team members when they step out of line.
- Notice, but not address, instances when a team member steps out of line and slowly develop a growing annoyance.
- Use monthly staff meeting to raise your concerns.
- Avoid managing situations directly and instead allow passive-aggressive behaviours to creep into your management of team-members (such as favouritism, silent treatment, over-scrutinise other areas of performance, withhold praise, impatience, etc.).
- Brood and become resentful.
If your current approach is not igniting desired changes in your team members’ behaviours, why not flip your response strategy on its head?
Stop trying to force your team to do as you wish. Instead, inspire them through your example.
Gandhi is quoted as saying, “Be the change you want to see…” Put this principle into action by being the ideal team member yourself.
- Adopt a happy and co-operative attitude,
- Be supportive of other team members, helping them manage their tasks,
- Assume the best of your team members intentions,
- Stop scrutinising hours and breaks,
- Be the example of high-level customer service,
- Keep the physical environment orderly, picking up that piece of rubbish, take that full rubbish bag out to the bin,
- Follow-up on your tasks in a timely manner,
- Focus and acknowledge team members for their strengths and when they do something good.
For this approach to work, your new behaviours must be consistent. And, BE PATIENT. It takes time for team members to see a shift, that it is consistent and then slowly make adjustments to their own attitudes and behaviours to be aligned with what they observe.
It has been my experience that when practice owners make this significant change themselves, it is the powerful force that triggers the redirection of their team’s culture.