So you are a great dentist and you think you have pretty good staff. That’s great! Are all of your staff performing well? Are all staff adding value to your practice? Do you sometimes wish your staff were a little more motivated? It’s a pretty safe assumption that motivated staff will provide better patient care and will add more value to your practice. But here’s the question… how do you really motivate people? This article will simplify motivation for you, help you better understand what drives people and performance, and will give you some great tips on how to best approach the seemingly tricky task of motivating your staff.
Clearing Up Common Myths About Employee Motivation
The topic of motivating employees is extremely important to managers in any industry. For dentists, the topic has hardly been addressed. Despite the importance of the topic, several myths persist. Before looking at what dentists and office managers can do to support the motivation of employees, it’s important first to clear up some of the more common myths.
Myth #1 –“I can motivate people”
Not really — they have to motivate themselves. You can’t motivate people anymore than you can empower them. Employees have to motivate and empower themselves. However, you can set up an environment where they best motivate and empower themselves. The key is knowing how to set up this type of work environment for each of your employees and establish an effective management system in your practice that is both empowering and motivating.
Myth #2 — “Money is a the best motivator”
Not really. Certain things like money, a nice workspace and job security can help people from becoming less motivated, but they usually don’t help people to become more motivated. A key goal is to understand the motivations of each of your employees. We know money is not the best motivator as we look at studies related to staff retention, which show consistently that great staff don’t leave companies, they leave their boss. When staff doesn’t connect with their supervisor, they leave. This is much more common than leaving to make more money.
Myth #3 — “Fear is a darn good motivator”
Fear is a great motivator — for a VERY short time. That’s why a lot of yelling from the boss won’t seem to “light a spark under employees” for a very long time. Furthermore, yelling and insulting employees is simply no longer tolerated in the workplace. When people fear you, they don’t respect you, and therefore, they will not follow you or genuinely support you. Assuming you are wanting to motivate staff toward top performance, fear is definitely not a good option.
Myth #4 — “I know what motivates me, so I know what motivates my employees”
Not really. Different people are motivated by different things – “different strokes for different folks.” There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of people. If you have more than one child, you can certainly relate. What works for one child doesn’t always work for another. The same is true of employees in your practice. I may be greatly motivated by earning more free time away from my job to spend more time my family. You might be motivated much more by recognition of a job well done. Again, a key goal is to understand what motivates each of your employees.
Myth #5 — “Increased job satisfaction means increased job performance”
Research shows this isn’t necessarily true at all. Increased job satisfaction does not necessarily mean increased job performance. If the goals of the practice are not aligned with the goals of employees, then employees aren’t effectively working toward the mission of the practice. You need to get full “buy-in” from staff on all of your practice goals in order for their performance to increase. Some staff may be satisfied with their job because not much is required of them.
Myth #6 — “I can’t understand employee motivation — it’s a science”
Well, this may be partially true, but in reality it is a myth. There are really some very basic steps you can take that will go a long way toward supporting your employees to be motivated toward increased performance in their jobs and increased production and patient satisfaction in your practice. I will lay out a few of the more important concepts to consider.
Basic Motivation Principles to Remember
Motivating employees starts with motivating yourself
It’s amazing how, if you have a bad attitude and resent coming into the office, it seems like everyone else does too. If you are very stressed out, it seems like everyone else is too. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re enthusiastic about your job, it’s much easier for others to be too. Also, if you’re doing a good job of taking care of yourself and your own job, you’ll have much clearer perspective on how others are doing in theirs. It all starts with you, the dentist. Don’t expect others to be motivated if you aren’t yourself. what is prosperity gospel
A great place to start learning about motivation is to start understanding your own motivations. The key to helping to motivate your employees is to understand what motivates them. So what motivates you? Consider, for example, time with family, reputation, a job well done on a complicated case, service, learning advanced skills, etc. How is your job configured to support your own motivations?
Always work to align goals of the practice with goals of employees
As mentioned above, employees can be all fired up about their work and be working very hard. However, if the results of their work don’t contribute to the goals of the practice, then the practice is not any better off than if the employees were sitting on their hands — maybe worse off! Therefore, it’s critical that dentists know precisely what they want from their employees. These preferences should be worded in terms of goals for the practice. Identifying the goals for the practice is usually done during formal or informal strategic planning. Whatever steps you take to support the motivation of your employees (various steps are suggested below), ensure that employees have strong input to identifying their goals and that these goals are aligned with goals of the practice. (Goals should be worded to be “SMARTER”. More about this later on below.)