As we work with dentists and teams around the country, both groups are telling us the same thing:
- Team members are becoming more negative, cynical and discouraged. We need to do something to show them appreciation, but funds are tight.
- People are getting burned out. We have to do more work with less people, and for no more money.
Research confirms that there are serious problems developing in the workplace today:
- 65% of workers say they have received no recognition or appreciation in the past 12 months.
- While 80% of large corporations have employee recognition programs, only 31% of their employees say they feel valued for doing good quality work.
- The No. 1 reason for recognition in most workplaces is longevity. (How motivating is that?)
- Only 8% of employees feel top management cares about them personally.
- 70% of employees are either disengaged or underengaged in their work. Yet, only 21% of these workers are looking for work elsewhere, meaning approximately 50% of the workforce is just passively enduring work they don’t enjoy.
The workplace environment can change for the better, but many recognition efforts by dentists and team members are misguided, and wind up being a waste of time and effort. Why? Because they are not built upon the core principles we know are needed for appreciation to be communicated effectively.
Core principles for effectively communicated appreciation
- Make sure your praise is specific and personal.
The most common mistake organizations and supervisors make is that their communication is general and impersonal. They send email blasts: “Good job! Way to go, team.” But recognition of this nature has no specific meaning to the individual who stayed late to get the project completed. Use your colleagues’ names and tell them specifically what they do that makes your job easier. “Helping me get that report done on time was a huge weight off my shoulders – thank you.”
- Realize that other types of actions can be more impactful than words for many people.
Some people (often men) do not value verbal praise (the “words are cheap” mentality). Many people have grown to believe compliments from others are insincere, even an act of manipulation. Other actions have more impact for these individuals, such as spending time with them or helping them get a task done.
- Use the language of appreciation valued by the recipient.
Not everyone likes public recognition or social events. One leader told me: “You can give me an award, but you’ll have to shoot me first before I go up and get it in front of a crowd.” And for many introverts, going to a “staff appreciation dinner” is more like torture than a reward for doing a good job. They may prefer receiving a gift card to a bookstore and staying at home to read. Find out what they value and communicate your appreciation to them in that language.
- Separate affirmation from constructive criticism or instruction.
If you want the positive message to be heard “loud and clear,” don’t follow your affirmation with a “Now, if you would only…” message. Don’t give staff members a compliment, and then tell them how they could do the task better. They will only remember the “constructive” criticism, and may not even hear the positive remarks.
- Be genuine.
Don’t try to fake it or overstate your appreciation (“You’re are the best administrative assistant in the free world!”). People want appreciation to be genuine, not contrived.
We have successfully improved workplace environments and taught teams how to communicate authentic appreciation from dentist to team, and team to dentist. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Let’s talk about how learning more about the five languages of appreciation can bring a new level of productivity and teamwork to your practice.
Dr. Paul White is co-author of “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People.” He is a psychologist, author, speaker, and consultant who makes work relationships work. For the past 20 years, he’s improved numerous businesses, wealthy family estates, and nonprofit organizations. He helps them create positive workplace relationships and environments, raises the level of job satisfaction for both employees and volunteers, eliminates tension around family business issues, and guides confused individuals into a satisfying career path.
Shari Tastad and Fran Pangakis are experienced dental management consultants who have helped hundreds of clients understand and leverage their personal, leadership, and team-building skills. Their popular workshops and team meetings help participants discover their unique skills and abilities, and put them on the path to the success and confidence they desire and deserve. Now, with the addition of the MBA (“Motivation by Appreciation”) program to their consulting portfolio, they offer an even more comprehensive, “one-stop” solution to dental clients in search of productive, re-energized practices. Contact them at [email protected] or [email protected].