OPTOMETRY PRACTICE OWNER RESOURCESHow To Make Staff Feel Appreciated
How To Make Staff Feel Appreciated?
This question (or some variation of it) comes up in conversations with practice owners all too often. Doctors want to know how to make their staff feel appreciated, or state they’re having a meeting to gather ideas because they want their team to feel that they’re being heard.
Maybe it’s just a linguistic difference that’s become one of my pet peeves — but it seems to me if you want your staff to feel appreciated and heard, maybe you should… appreciate them and listen to what they have to say.
So if you’re wondering how to make your team feel appreciated, I’d encourage you to ask yourself first — do you truly appreciate them?
Assuming you do, why?
I appreciate my team at The Power Practice because they give so much of themselves to our clients. They are creative and relentless in their quest for solutions and success. They often struggle to maintain their own work-life balance because they are committed to helping clients whenever the need arises. They each wear many hats but are always willing to jump in and take on something new, regardless of what else is going on in their professional and personal lives. And they don’t hesitate to question or challenge me or each other when they feel I’m off track or not living up to the company’s values.
I appreciate my office teams because I know their jobs are much harder than mine. They know they are the patient’s first impression of our office and work to provide a great experience. They deal with a lot of crap from people, and I’ve answered the phone enough to know how different patients are with someone they perceive as “staff” vs. “the doctor.” They are concierges, housekeepers, gatekeepers, traffic directors, insurance experts, and salespeople, and they get blamed for a lot of things that aren’t their fault. Patients have stress around healthcare, vision, insurance, and money and our staff members are unintentional recipients of whatever stresses the patients bring into the office. Somehow they shoulder it all with smiles on their faces most of the time.
Why do you appreciate your team?
Once you know– just tell them. Instead of keeping the words to yourself, tell your team genuinely and frequently– not just “I appreciate you” but “I appreciate that you…” whenever you feel it.
“I’m so glad you took that call– I don’t know how you kept your cool, but you did, what a pro!”
“What a crazy schedule! I don’t think we’ve ever had that many people here at once. It was a great call to see that patient who drives an hour to see us even though she is 20 minutes late (or to not see that patient who showed up 20 minutes late)”
“How did you get that patient to even look at glasses? I was sure she was headed online, and you turned it around. Tell me your magic!”
“That child was really freaked out about anything touching his eyes. I know the contact lens lesson took a long time, but you did it! That’s a huge victory! He’s going to be thrilled at his football game this weekend.”
And on the days when something happens and you appreciate them even more than usual, tell them that, and ask how you can best show it. “You have been amazing all week covering for the two people who are out. I want to buy lunch for everyone tomorrow – what do you want to order?” or “You’ve been here late every day and must be exhausted. I want to give you a few hours off. Do you want to come in at 12 tomorrow and still get paid for the full day, or come in at the usual time and just have 3 hours added to your check?”
If you truly appreciate your team and tell them whenever you feel it, they will know they’re appreciated. When you’re inspired to show your appreciation through a gift or treat, do so. Communicate with your team members to find out what’s most valuable to them and give that.
If you truly don’t– no gift cards, bonuses, or free lunches will fix it. That’s a tougher conversation and another blog post for another day.