Employee Motivation Part V

Thomas E. Cavanaugh, DC, MBA

In the first four parts of this series on “Employee Motivation,’ I discussed the lack of proper resources, training materials, appreciation, rewards and recognition, and just laziness on the part of the employee as a few reasons for an unmotivated staff.  I would like to conclude this series with the principles of “expectations’ and “return and report.’

Clear Expectations

There is hardly anything more frustrating or de-motivating to an employee than believing he or she is doing a great job only to have the doctor criticize his or her work.  This is an unpleasant situation for both the employee and the doctor, but one that can easily be avoided by using the following guidelines.

The potential employee should get a feel for the doctor´s performance expectations during the employment application interview.  During this interview, the doctor impresses the applicant with the importance of professionalism and superior patient care within the practice.  That way, even if the applicant is not hired for the position, he or she will have respect for the practice and possibly become a future patient and/or refer others.

Once hired, the new employee should be required to thoroughly read the office policy manual and sign a document stating that he or she has read and completely understands the policies as set forth in the manual.  The employee should be told not to sign off on the document until all of his or her questions regarding office policy have been answered.  The employee´s understanding of office policy is essential in setting the foundation needed to develop and maintain employee motivation.

The next step is for the doctor to give the employee a basic written outline of his or her duties. This list would consist of short descriptive sentences describing the employee´s responsibilities and what the doctor expects in regards to each.

The doctor would also provide the C.A. with a copy of the customized procedure manual (see Part I of this series) that applies to his or her job position. This procedure manual is a vital part of the doctor's C.A. training program. The doctor may also choose to include online video training classes, CD programs, and professional seminars in his or her C.A. training regimen.

The C.A. Checklist

With so many different duties to perform, it is vital that the doctor prepares a checklist that will help the C.A. remember all that must be done.  The checklist is a simple listing of duties with a box to check as the duties are accomplished.  This system allows the mind to function more focused on the task at hand, because it no longer has to be concerned about trying to remember to do all of the other things.  To maintain this checklist system, the C.A. is required to put his or her completed list (along with any other completed forms or documents as required by the checklist) on the doctor´s desk each day before going home.

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Monthly Interviews or “Chats’

Individual staff interviews on a monthly basis are powerful employee motivators.  These interviews may only take 10 or 15 minutes and can easily be done during the doctor´s lunch hour.   The doctor uses these interviews to clearly state job objectives and performance expectations on an individual basis, and to explain how the C.A.´s individual work fits into the “whole’ of the office.  At the conclusion of each interview, the C.A. should understand what he or she needs to accomplish during the next month and feel motivated to do so.

A word of caution:  If you begin a monthly interview process, it is important that you maintain it.  You cannot get lazy and ignore it or it will backfire on you.   For example, imagine you are the C.A. who works hard to reach the goals and accomplish the projects that were discussed in your last monthly interview, only to have the doctor “brush off’ your next interview.  How would you feel?  Would you feel robbed of the attention and praise that was due you?  Absolutely!  Would you feel like the doctor didn´t think your work was important enough to take the time for the interview?  You bet!  Would you be motivated to work as hard the next month?  You bet NOT!  In postponing or canceling monthly interviews, doctors unwittingly turn a great staff motivator into an even greater staff de-motivator.   


Motivate your employees to always do their best work by helping them develop “can do’ attitudes.   Provide them with clear expectations and positive feedback.  Establish and maintain a fair and motivating reward system.   Supply the resources needed to fulfill their assignments to your satisfaction and with the least amount frustration.  Give clear instructions through monthly interviews and setting forth objectives and goals on an individual basis.

There is no question that the job of a chiropractic assistant is very demanding.  But, if you as the employer use what I have taught in this series, your staff will be highly productive, motivated to do more, and happy in their chosen careers.  This all adds up to one thing … a growing, thriving practice – yours!

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