Ever since you sold the practice, things haven’t been the same:
The office has lost its “family” feel and, while the abundant flow of new-owner capital is real, there’s a sense of every person for themselves.
Patients used to marvel at the pleasant nature of each employee, and it was a joy to come to work every day. But now, it appears to be all work and no play. While team members have enjoyed an increase in pay, you wish you could motivate them to act differently under the new ownership.
Much like the way you gently recalibrate each patient in your office and focus on their nervous and musculoskeletal systems, a similar approach will work for your staff. It’s called the “recalibration of team motivation,” and with the analogy above in mind, here’s a three-step plan of attack.
Address their nerves
New is scary. As silly as it may sound, even new things that create a better workplace will scare most employees. They’ll begin to find new things to fear and question every new piece of information they hear until they can reach a level of comfort similar to the one they had in the old environment.
For example, companies spend millions on new computer systems designed to make employees’ job easier and, without fail, employees will resist using them for fear their performance will be seen as suboptimal while they’re learning the new system. It’s about fear and, if not addressed, all other efforts will fall on deaf ears.
What are they worried about? Do they perceive the new ownership as a threat? If not facing new owners, but simply a workplace with new team members or without ones who used to work there, what strikes fear in the members of your team?
Being motivated doesn’t have to mean being devoid of fear, but team members do require guidance to feel the fear and then move past it.
Motivation happens faster when not wrought with nerves or when fears aren’t lurking around every corner, so address their concerns first.
Assess their muscle
Muscles give the body strength and power, so what muscles do your team members need to develop? Their collective strength lies in operating as a team, and it stems from mutual respect and rapport, clarity of roles, and minimal barriers to performance. If that muscle is weak, help them to know exactly what they’re expected to do, and give them opportunities to build stronger relationships with one another.
Is the missing muscle the one that drives business growth and brings new patients in the door? Give employees incentives for doing exactly what achieves the goal you’ve set. Skill strength and muscle can both be easily developed with repetitious effort.
Repetition is made easier when there are plentiful rewards. Your most frequent and compliant patients return because they believe there is an intrinsic reward for their effort. Surely those you pay to arrive in the office each day are also slightly motivated to do so, but do they see a reward that goes beyond being able to afford groceries? Many practice managers and owners make this common mistake.
A paycheck is not always the best solution and an increase in pay does not always increase motivation muscle. Rewarding specific behavior change will increase behavioral muscle strength.
Fortify their skeleton
If only strengthening employees’ bones were as easy as giving them a glass of milk every day—but sadly that’s not the case. The skeleton of your practice—the team you lead—is made up of many structural components.
Structure can be found in clear job descriptions, a professional conduct policy, the mission of the practice, the goals for the coming year, and regular meetings to ensure actions are in alignment with these elements. A weak skeleton in your practice can develop if the mission, vision, and values you adopt are being seen as superficial.
Furthermore, a weak system can persist and do significant damage if employees aren’t given clarity for each job and know what is expected of them. In the light of wanting to reinvigorate staff motivation, it’s natural to want to execute this final step for recalibration first. It’s a logical approach because, as with the human body, no muscle can be developed or nervous system healed if the skeletal system cannot support it.
Yet, with teams who need to regain motivation, it is not until their nerves (fears) have been abated and their muscles (skills) are identified and developed as needed, that this type of structure even matters.
Fortifying an office or team’s skeletal structure that is built on underlying fears, concerns, and missing capabilities is a house of cards built on a sandy beach. Once steps one and two have been addressed, the drama, doldrums, or resistance to new ideas will subside, and then step three will be perfectly timed.
Patient problems are treated and often healed over time. If the team you lead is not as motivated as you’d like them to be, follow a systematic treatment plan that takes all factors and fears into consideration, walks them gently through the changes while building new skills, and equips them to stand up straight and express how proud they are to work there still.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership development coach and professional speaker. As CEO of training firm Contagious Companies Inc., she and her team work with chiropractic practices, healthcare, retail, hospitality, and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. She can be contacted at 866-382-0121 or through contagiouscompanies.com.