Team motivation can pay off in big ways

Aug 19, 2004

In recent articles I have talked about better record keeping and how to write a job description; both of these articles have one thing in common they require the entire team to be involved. So how do you motivate and keep the team going in the forward direction?

Do not try to change everything at once! Try to pick one thing to work on at a time. Maybe even have the whole team pick an area of interest and all work on that area. Our practice last year picked pain management and to help us jump-start that program we had a manufacturer come into our clinic and do a wet lab on pain management. We included our front desk in on some of this also so that they were aware of how it is done; this then allowed them to be better prepared to answer a question from a client. Now that the entire team is on the same page, we all feel that we are not only offering better medicine for the patient but we are offering better patient care too.

This scenario would not have happened if the whole team had not bought into it. Just because two doctors believe in it will not make it happen. And to get the entire team involved they need to see the good for the pet not the economics. For you doctors out there, do you know what the average yearly salary is for your lead technician? The national average is $27,500. How about your full-time receptionist? It's $21,000. Now who has the most contact with your clients when it comes down to money? When they see that bill for $600 dollars that is more than their take home pay for the week. When you start talking about "well, if we increase the number here we will bring in x amount of dollars"- guess what they think? "Whoopee we get to work harder and see nothing for it," yet if you present it as it is the best for the pet they can relate.

Once a goal is achieved, celebrate your success. Sometimes it is good to have a "dangling carrot" and other times it is nice to have spontaneous celebrations. Our client relations' specialists are working toward a goal in getting a client referral source of 90 percent for new clients; once this is achieved they will be treated to an ice cream social (the dangling carrot). We also had a goal to achieve an increase in yearly heartworm prevention for our canine patients. After we reached that number, the clinic was closed for a half a day and we went out to lunch and played games at a game room. This was not announced at the beginning of our goal, so it was spontaneous and the team loved it.

"Saying is one thing and doing is another." Montaigne

Everyone must believe in the project 110 percent. All of the training for everyone involved will be for naught if you cannot personally be held accountable for your own actions. Make sure that the entire team can see you walk the talk and let them know that it is OK to call you on a slip up. The team will then rally behind you to achieve the goals that are set.