One of the biggest challenges as a leader is receiving employee buy-in into your practice. Employee buy-in should be a priority for every leader. Without it, patient experience and overall practice culture will suffer, hurting the practice’s ability to retain or attract quality patients. Have you ever found that your employees are unmotivated, dispassionate, impatient, or speak unprofessionally about their place of work to or around patients? This often happens when employees are unhappy with their work environment, and we find that the root of unhappiness is the result of feeling misunderstood and undervalued. The way you communicate as a leader determines how your employees will behave in the workplace. In order to communicate effectively, and establish and sustain a positive practice culture, as a leader it’s important to understand the following 9 Principles of Human Behavior1.
Principle 1: People Are Not Machines
You may read the first principle and think “that’s obvious, I know people aren’t machines.” That’s fair – and I believe that you know that your employees are not inanimate objects made to perfectly complete any task. However, even though many leaders understand the difference between a person and a machine, many still treat their employees as such. It takes discipline and practice to see your employees as individuals with goals and feelings rather than a group whose primary purpose is to work for your practice. Rather than communicating with your employees about the practice’s needs, try being an ally for your employees and take the time to individually assess what they need for success. Grow your employees as individuals and they’ll use their growth to strengthen the practice.
Principle 2: People Need to Be Able to Predict Their Environments
It’s stressful to work in an environment that feels unstable. This is the breeding ground for creating distrust between leadership and their staff. Have you ever felt that your employees walk on eggshells around you? To put it plainly, that is because they may not trust you as a leader. They feel that their environment is unstable and walk on eggshells to try and not rock the boat any more than it already is. As a leader, it is your duty to provide a safe and stable work environment. That means to have predictable reactions, be empathetic to the concerns of your staff, provide a regular daily schedule, treat everyone fairly, and stand up for your employees whether that be to a disgruntled patient, spouse, or gossiping coworkers. Create a stable and safe environment for your employees and they’ll enjoy their workplace much more.
Principle 3: People’s Behavior is Value-Based
If your practice as a whole, owner, dentists, and staff alike, do not share the same core values, you may never have employee buy-in. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to collaboratively create a practice mission statement and core value list. If your values do not align with the values of your employees, neither party will truly be able to support the other, and the practice will have difficulty growing. Those with similar values will gravitate towards each other at work, causing unintendedly rivalrous cliques to develop. As a leader, it is important to bring all employees together as one group who can all agree on the mission and core values of their professional life. This will also help the leader see who wants to buy into their place of work and who doesn’t.
That was a lot to get through! Are you staying with me?
In our next blog post, we’ll go over Principles 4-6.
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 Ian McDonald, Catherine Burke, and Karl Stewart. Systems Leadership : Creating Positive Organisations. Aldershot, England: Routledge, 2006. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=270452&site=ehost-live.