I recently attended a conference that had numerous breakout groups for the doctors and staff members. Groups of 10 to 12 people of similar size practices were provided a conference room in the hotel and they had all day to discuss practice management issues. The goal is for each member to ask for help on some topics and provide help on others. These study groups provide extremely powerful ideas because they tap into the experiences of many people. This conference included a wrap-up session on the final day and the moderator of each study group presented the best four or five ideas to the larger combined audience of all attendees.
There were dozens of great ideas, but I'll share one that I have implemented in my practice: the Above and Beyond Award.
The idea is really quite simple, but it has a powerful effect on your staff morale and office culture. We invite all employees in the practice to nominate a co-worker for the Above and Beyond Award. The award is given to a staff member who does something special or makes an extra effort for a patient or co-worker. Our practice purchases gift cards from a popular retail destination (Amazon, Target, Starbucks or any other you wish) and the manager or doctor presents the gift and the honor to the winning employee at our weekly staff meeting. We have notes about the good deed and the details are provided before the winner is announced. There is a round of applause, there are lots of congratulations, and the winners are listed on plaque on our staff bulletin board.
Our gift cards are in the amount of $25, but the recognition is more important than the dollar value. We only present one award per week, but if we have multiple nominations we can save some for a following week. The Above and Beyond Award always makes our staff meetings end on a positive note, even if some of the topics we discussed that day were not so positive.
Good deeds are contagious
Since you can't nominate yourself, the award causes staff members to pay attention to the good work of others. Staff members who frequently nominate others find that they get nominated as well as a thank you. Some employees who are naturally considerate and often go the extra mile for patients end up getting numerous awards. This makes those who have not received an award try a bit harder so they will be recognized. The focus is on providing exceptional service and the award makes all of us think about it and talk about it.
In smaller practices, you can recognize and reward staff members for good deeds without having them nominate each other. Just pay attention to jobs that are done well and thank the person with a gift card at your meetings. I highly recommend weekly staff meetings for all practices.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.