Part three of this series examines
the inter-office relationship factor.
Bob Levoy, O.D.
Would you like your practice to hum with people who work hard, enjoy what they're doing and pull together to make and keep your practice successful? The key, as we have stressed in this series, is to address your employees' job-related needs.
I've previously discussed the importance of challenging work; having a say in decisions that affect one's work; the need for time off for child care and urgent personal matters, etc. Another frequently expressed need is for positive relationships with co-workers (what I call the "Fun Factor").
ILLUSTRATION BY DEBRA DIXON
Co-workers = friends
For most employees, the "social life" at work is extremely important. Sometimes it is their only social life. Understandably, they want it to be pleasant.
Research shows that people who enjoy the company of co-workers tend to develop a bond with them and a sense of responsibility towards the group. This results in greater teamwork, higher morale and productivity, and less tardiness and absenteeism. An enhanced sense of fun also helps employees deliver service with a smile.
Action steps: Workplace fun doesn't need to be planned. Most of the fun that happens is spontaneous, such as impromptu celebrations for birthdays, weddings, work anniversaries, "going-away," or "welcome aboard" occasions or perhaps for no reason at all. It can be a bouquet of flowers, a decorated cake or an in-office, catered lunch.
Get to know your employees
To help you learn the job-related needs of your own employees, I've devised the following questions. You might want to consider using them to help you begin the initial job interview:
- What are you looking for in your next job that was missing from your last job?
- What motivates you to do your best on the job?
- Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
- What about your work do you find most interesting? Most frustrating?
- In your last job, did you get the recognition and appreciation you believe you deserved?
Once an employee is on board, hold periodic informal meetings with her and other staff members. Ask them:
- What part of your job do you like best? Why?
- Are there any additional things you would like to be doing?
- What, if anything, frustrates you about your job?
- What, if anything, do you need to do your job better?
- What is there about your job that you would like changed to help you get more of what you want from your work?
- Do I do anything that makes your job more difficult?
Tip: Keep a written job description for each employee handy to ensure that you're both talking about the same job and that you keep the discussion focused.
Optometrists who fear opening a can of worms by asking employees for feedback are deceiving themselves. Problems affecting staff morale and motivation that aren't discussed don't dissipate. If anything, they intensify.
Reality check: Keep an open line of communication between you and your staff. Talking things over may not solve all job-related problems but it may clarify problems, enable you to better understand your employees' job-related needs and demonstrate your concern for their job satisfaction.
DR. LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK, "201 SECRETS OF A HIGH
PERFORMANCE OPTOMETRIC PRACTICE" WAS PUBLISHED BY BUTTERWORTH-HEINEMANN. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT
Optometric Management, Issue: July 2003