Employee Motivation Part I

Thomas E. Cavanaugh, DC, MBA

The best way to avoid dealing with unmotivated employees is not to hire them in the first place! But this article is not about hiring. It is about having an ongoing learning and rewarding program in place for your employees.

Work ethic is a trait that is carried in the mind and heart of all people.  Some will work hard, some will work average and some will just take up space.  But, if you have an employee who is not motivated to learn more and do the best job possible, it may not be due to the employee´s inherit work ethic.   Let´s explore the first of many reasons for poor employee performance and then talk about some solutions.

Lack of a Challenge in the Job

If a C.A. lacks a sense of challenge in his/her position, the doctor has clearly not implemented the practice building procedures or training that empowers and motivates C.A.s to consistently achieve and exceed practice-building goals.  Doctors are wise to invest more time, energy and money into learning and implementing the procedures, training and bonus programs that will make their C.A.s their most valuable practice building asset.  A C.A. who experiences accomplishment and reward in his/her position, is motivated  … to do more ... to achieve more.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak with staff members from a number of different offices and many have told me, “we can never figure out what the doctor wants,’ or “the doctor will ask us to do this or that but when we do it he is not satisfied.’  When I ask them if they have a training book or an office procedure manual they usually roll their eyes and say, “yeah, right,’ or, “oh, I think we do but it´s pretty old and I´m not even sure where it is.’   This lack of proper office resources creates unnecessary confusion between the doctor and his/her staff, does not motivate staff (can actually “de-motivate’), and inevitably has a negative impact on service to patients.

All of this adds up to loss of existing patients, loss of new patients, loss of income and a possible loss of practice.   Is not having the proper and adequate office procedure and training manuals worth risking your practice for?  Hardly.

Two Procedural Manuals?

As an accomplished chiropractor and MBA graduate, I believe in two types of procedural manuals. The first manual is the principle “Bible’ manual.  If you have a practice building consultant, he/she will be able to provide you with this resource that typically includes detailed information for each staff position  … their duties, scripts, systems, patient processing, etc.  

The second manual is a customized version of the first.  In that no two practices are exactly alike, this adaptation is a simple and precise tailoring that results in a perfect fitting resource for you and your practice.

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The Second Manual

The second manual restates the principles of the first “Bible’ procedural manual in a way specific to you and your practice.  The following is an easy to follow guide in making your second manual, but the first rule is to NOT DEVIATE FROM THE PRINCIPLES IN THE FIRST MANUAL.

Step #1:   Develop an outline of topics from your first manual.

Step #2:   Assign the first topic to the C.A. who it most applies to and have him/her teach that topic to the entire staff at the next weekly staff meeting.  Notes are taken during the training meeting, and while being supportive and encouraging, the doctor verbalizes his/her ideas to improve on the procedure being taught.

Step #3:   The training meeting and material is typed up in word format for the doctor´s review.   If possible, have the C.A. who taught the session do the typing, as it will reinforce what he/she has already learned in regards to that particular job responsibility.  The doctor returns the reviewed document to the C.A. who makes the noted changes and revisions.  This finalized document is the beginning to your second manual.

Step #4:  Select a different topic from your list developed in Step #1, follow steps 2 and 3 until all topics have been addressed.  Having done that, you have successfully completed your second manual.         
Benefits of Customizing Your Procedure Manual

Customizing your first manual provides you with the following benefits:

1. Your staff meetings become highly productive training sessions.

2. The C.A. who needs the knowledge the most in his/her position has now researched the material, taught it, typed it and corrected or revised it.  This immersion into the topic builds the confidence that encourages and motivates C.A.s to do their best.

3. The staff training sessions serve as a cross-training program.  Everyone will know enough about each job in the practice to be able to assist each other and fill in when necessary.  This “everyone know everything’ policy is also a tremendous team builder, fostering respect and appreciation from one staff member to the other.

4. Your customized procedure manual will be a lifesaver in the event you suddenly lose a staff member.  Imagine your front desk C.A. leaves without notice, the new C.A. simply steps in and follows your customized step-by-step manual to quickly and correctly learn what he/she needs to know.

5. Your staff will know exactly what you want and expect from them, and that you take following practice procedures very seriously.   

6. You have something written in which people are held accountable.

7. Now that your customized manual is in a word document on your computer, it is easy to revise as your practice grows and things change.

8. Your C.A. has a custom made resource manual to refer to whenever she is unsure about a procedure.  This goes a long way to eliminating frustration and building motivation.  So get busy!

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