Article Date: 7/1/2012

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How to Energize Employees

Using the right techniques will also make you a more effective manager.

Bob Levoy, O.D.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

— William Arthur Ward

A study reported in the Harvard Business Review revealed that the vast majority of employees are excited when they start a new job. Yet in 85% of the organizations surveyed, this excitement declines sharply after the first six months and continues to decline for years.

One reason for this decline in morale is that managers don't take the time to thank employees for a job well done. How prevalent is this problem of oversight or indifference? In a study of 1,500 corporate employees by Gerald Graham, Ph. D., of Wichita State University, it was found that:

► 58% said they seldom, if ever, received personal thanks from their manager.
► 76% said they seldom, if ever, received written thanks from their manager.
► 81% said they seldom, if ever, received public praise at work.

Optometrists and office managers do a better job of expressing appreciation than these statistics indicate, but based on the feedback I've received from staff, there's room for improvement. A simple “thank you” for a job well done is a good beginning. But you can take it up a notch by writing a note of appreciation, and sending it to the staff member's home. You'd be surprised at the number of people who keep such hand-written thank-you notes for years. Also, consider these steps to show appreciation:

► Leave a message of thanks on a staff member's voicemail.
► Send an e-mail note of thanks.
► Compliment a staff member for a job well done in front of a patient and/or at a staff meeting.
► Pass along the compliments you hear from patients.

“Recognition is the most inexpensive, easy-to-use motivational technique available,” says Jim Clemmer, author of The Leader's Digest: Timeless Principles for Team and Organization Success (Ecw Press, 2003) “Yet the degree to which this essential tool is underused, by most otherwise intelligent managers, is bewildering.”

The power of praise

Kelly Kerksick, O.D., Columbia, Ill., recalls her first job at a commercial chain and her custom of thanking staff members for their hard work during those extremely busy days: “It wasn't until several months later when one of the employees was leaving,” she writes in New O.D. an OM publication, “that I realized the impact of ‘thank you’ from the staff's perspective. She came to me as her shift was ending and said, ‘Dr. Kerksick, I have really enjoyed working with you. You are the first doctor that ever made me feel respected, needed, valued and appreciated. Thank you.’ It was then that I realized the power of that simple phrase, ‘thank you.’ I've found that the respect of the doctor is earned most easily by staff when they are respected in return. After all, respect is a two-way street.”

Discretionary effort

Optometrists and office managers who take the time to express appreciation to staff members for a job well done understand the power of praise. People who feel appreciated and cared about exude discretionary energy — that extra effort employees are willing to make beyond the basic requirements of their jobs. It makes for a happier, more productive workplace. OM

DR. LEVOY IS THE AUTHOR OF SEVEN BOOKS, INCLUDING 201 SECRETS OF A HIGH PERFORMANCE OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE (AVAILABLE AT WWW.AMAZON.COM) AND 222 SECRETS OF A HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTHCARE PRACTICES. E-MAIL BLEVOY@VERIIZON.NET, OR TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: July 2012, page(s): 82