Welcome to the second installment of our two-part blog series on building a high performing team. In Part 1, we took a look at the impact psychological safety has on your team and covered methods for building it within your practice. However, creating an environment that fosters psychological safety is only the beginning. In this blog, we will conclude by following up with a discussion of how understanding the values of your practice and setting the right level of expectations can help you create a more effective team.
Identify Core Values to Drive Team Character
According to a Gallup poll, only 27 percent of US employees strongly agree that they “believe in” their organization’s values. You are not alone if your staff does not feel truly connected to your practice’s values. But is that how you want it to be? One of the main reasons employees feel disconnected is a failure to clearly list and state the core values. After all, how can you expect your staff to align with your practice’s values if they don’t even know what those values are?
Before we move on to the next section, take a moment to think about the top three core values your team should possess and write them down. Here is a list of value examples to get you started (feel free to come up with your own):
- Positive Outcomes
- Patient Safety
- Service to Others
Use Values to Assess Your Team
Now that you have determined your top three values, the next step is to evaluate your staff on each of them. Use a scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 1 marking a staff member who has no idea what this value means and a score of 5 meaning he/she is a shining example of this value. Start by evaluating a sampling of 2-5 staff members, then branch out and do the rest (depending on the size of your practice, of course).
Your next steps will depend on what kind of results you get from this evaluation, but will likely include the following:
- Encourage your shining examples (those who scored a 5)
- Coach those who can be helped (those who scored 3-4, and are willing to be coached)
- Manage out the people who are toxic or constantly behave in ways that are counter to the values and character of your practice (meaning they scored a 1 or 2… of course, this is far easier said than done)
When you find that you have outliers among your staff who fail to live up to these values, it is up to you how best to proceed. You do not necessarily have to part ways, but you do have to strongly consider their impact on the rest of your team and take steps to get these outlying staff members on board with your desired practice culture.
An added benefit to doing an evaluation of your existing staff is that it also creates a clear guideline and scoresheet that you can then use when interviewing new candidates for employment. Using these guides, focus your interviews on situational-based questions that will help demonstrate where candidates fall on your value scores.
Set & Maintain High Expectations
What do you expect from your team? Seriously consider your answer. Do you simply expect them to clock in, do their jobs and clock out? Or do you hold your team to higher standards? For example, do you want them to be willing to stay back a bit longer if needed? Do you expect them to greet patients with friendly smiles? What you expect out of your team defines what you are going to get out of them. Therefore, you should aim high as opposed to setting low expectations.
Some of you may have heard, or even subscribed to, the argument that “If you don’t expect much, you’ll never be disappointed.” The truth is, however, that this philosophy is dead wrong. While low expectations may prevent you from being disappointed in the moment, they will disappoint you in the long term—in the form of patient dissatisfaction, low office morale or other such downstream issues. Do you think the coaches of championship teams expect little from their athletes? Do you think successful companies such as Google and Apple hold their teams to low standards? Of course not.
As a practice leader, it is up to you to set expectations for your team… and you need to do so consistently.
Going back to the concept of psychological safety covered in part 1 of this blog series, nothing undermines trust more than being inconsistent. Once you have set expectations for your team, you must maintain them. Think of it in terms of raising children. You set rules early, when they are young. And what happens? Children push the rules to see if they are going to be enforced. If parents do not implement consequences for breaking the rules, the children will not follow them. This is a part of human nature, so the same goes for your staff. There must be clear consequences when rules are not followed, as well as rewards for when they are.
Thank you for joining us on this educational journey of creating high performing teams. We hope this blog series will help you optimize efficiency in your specialty practice. For notifications on new articles that can help you to better maintain your practice, consider subscribing to this blog.
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