Your staff is your most valuable asset. They make or break you. They can love or hate you, and still work for you.
They can help you achieve stellar statistics into highest-ever ranges or they can crash them. It is all up to you.
As Bob Nelson, a stand-up comedian put it, “People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.” In other words, most employees are in your office for more than a paycheck. Everyone wants to know they did a good job, and given the right motivation they will make you shine (and wealthy, too).
You have probably been in offices or plants where the employees were happy, bright and obviously enjoying their work. That is the kind of business you want to patronize, as you get a little lift by being there. How did that happen? It wasn’t by accident—it was by clever management.
Praise, recognition and rewards
These three actions are the food you feed your employees that yields stellar production, bright eyes and smiles around your office. Nearly everyone wants to excel in what they do, whether it’s being the best sales rep, receptionist or office administrator. It is a matter of striving toward excellence, getting acknowledged, and being paid the right amount for it.
There are always drones, but an office of winning employees will soon show them up for what they are, and they’d better shape up or ship out. Productive employees cannot abide them.
A self-reinforcing system
When you recognize people effectively, you reinforce the actions and behaviors that you want to see people repeat. Your recognition reinforces the employee’s understanding of how you would like to see him or her contributing to the practice.
The majority of employees want you to see them as effective contributors, because it reinforces their own positive self-image, self-worth and self-esteem, so your positive recognition is meaningful and supportive. An effective employee recognition system is simple, immediate and powerfully reinforcing. And it keeps them working hard for more of the same.
There is a tech to it
Praise, recognition and rewards must not be random nor left to a manager. That leads to what may be considered favoritism, which is deadly to an office. A system must be in place that can be understood by everyone. But don’t let a system cause you to withhold praise, because sometimes spontaneity is needed.
A thumbs-up, a “well done,” or a pat on the back can make the day of an employee who is working hard and doing a good job. That should never be withheld. And when done, it should be done with sincerity.
Your system should be in the moment and timely as much as possible. Catch people doing exemplary work and acknowledge their efforts on the spot.
Praise can happen at any time so always be ready to give it sincerely.
Recognition is more substantial, like a card or letter.
Rewards are usually something more valuable, like a dinner or even a cash bonus.
None of these should be arbitrary. Try to follow these three guidelines when delivering them:
1. All employees must be eligible for recognition—no individual or group should be excluded.
2. Specify to the employee what behavior or action is being praised, recognized or rewarded. The more clearly you design and communicate the criteria for eligibility, the easier it is for employees to perform accordingly.
3. Anyone who performs according to the required standard gets rewarded. If affordability becomes an issue, then every employee who meets the criteria qualifies for a drawing.
Keep it in context
Recognition is most effective when it’s given in the context of a larger goal or results-focused activity. Random affirmations are less meaningful than those tied to a business goal.
An employee who lands a big win by putting in extra effort needs to know you noticed, and appreciate their working toward your business success. Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses contextual meaning.
The value of an award is tied to employee perception
People know when they are valued. Monetary awards link that value to cash, but perhaps your appreciation is for extra effort and smarts. Money is OK most of the time, but it may not be the most effective motivator.
Get to know each of your employees well enough to know what he or she values—then give it to them when earned. This can quadruple the value and sense of appreciation because it shows you care, which in turn creates loyalty and caring coming right back at you.
You have many ways to let your employees know they are appreciated and valued on a personal level. Here are some ideas to consider, just as a start:
1. Ask employees to nominate and vote for the employee of the month.
2. Reward the team or department that shows great achievement.
3. Start an employee appreciation program.
4. Recognize your employees’ personal accomplishments.
5. Express interest in your employees’ professional development.
6. Post and follow a celebration calendar in the workplace.
7. Call an employee to your office to thank them personally.
8. Let an employee be “CEO for the day,” free to proclaim a jeans day, a potluck or give a speech at a team meeting.
9. Take your employees out to lunch and let them choose the location.
10. Who doesn’t love a free T-shirt or ball cap? Offering employees free company apparel and other logo merchandise can be an inexpensive way to say thanks.
Google “employee rewards” and you’ll find hundreds of spectacular and perfectly fitting ways to reward and recognize your employees for things both small and large. Your employees are your lifeblood. Treat them like family and they will knock themselves silly for you.
Eric Huntington, DC, is president of the Chiropractic Business Academy (CBA), a training and consulting group that assists chiropractors in building stable, profitable practices by teaching patient-centered systems. Huntington was both the ICA representative for Maryland and a board member of the Maryland Chiropractic Association from 2002–2013. He has owned and managed chiropractic and medical practices since 2001. He can be contacted at 888-989-0855 or through chirobizacademy.com.