(Time to read: 4 minutes)
Long hours, demanding patients (and practice partners), exhaustion, the NHS… working in a GP practice can be a tough business – which highlights the need for a strong team ethos and plenty of positivity. Yet, all too often an overbearing sense of negativity, lack of engagement and dissatisfaction at work can permeate through the ranks.
While everybody will have their ‘off’ days – it’s human nature – what measures can you take as practice manager to ensure a positive practice environment and a great work culture? Taking advice from HR and motivational experts from across different sectors, here are some top tips.
It starts at the top
People leave bosses, not companies. Gallup reports the number one reason employees leave a job is because of a poor relationship with their manager or supervisor. Your practice morale lies in the hands of the leaders and managers who run it.
Those in higher positions not only serve as the example of how to interact with patients, but also employees — setting the standard for acceptable behaviours and values. This in turn, lays the foundation of the office culture.
Be understanding and compassionate
Following the above, your personal attitude really does affect the attitude of your team members. A Science Direct article found that when people remembered supportive experiences with their boss, regions of the brain associated with positive emotions were activated. Listen to the concerns and needs of your staff, and seek out ways to be encouraging.
All organisations, including GP practices, that are transparent about what’s going on and keep everybody informed about the reasons why decisions have been made and changes put in place will thrive. This brings into play the need for effective team meetings. Check out our article on the subject for more insight.
Pull in the same direction
A great way to boost the team ethos is to set-up mini projects that everybody can work towards. It might be, for example boosting reviews – set the whole team a goal of reaching a certain amount of positive reviews. Or it could be giving joint responsibilities for projects and events – setting up open days is a good one.
Simple recognition, gratitude and appreciation can go a long way, and it costs nothing. Communicating positive feedback does not have to be left for a formal review. Making recognition part of your regular office communication is key.
Recognition goes hand-in-hand with frequent, constructive feedback. Good employees of course want to hear positive feedback, but they also want to know of areas they can improve. Take the time to point out development areas and – crucially – back it up with the opportunity for training. Make people feel like they’re being invested in.
Implement regular training programmes that go above and beyond what’s required in contracts. Away days can motivate some people, for others the thought of joining a training course can be horrid, so tailor training accordingly. Focus on skills that will make mundane tasks easier or that people have an interest in.
Listen and respond
If a member of staff has identified a particular problem that can be eased through investment in technology or services (within reason, of course), investigate the solutions. It could be digital transcription of letters or automated invoice processing using your multifunction printer, for example. Show that you want to remove the problem issues.
Continuing on a similar vein, while some of your team may be OK with having ‘just a job’, the most engaged employees find greater meaning in what they do. They feel they are contributing to something meaningful, which makes them happier and motivates them to go above and beyond in their work.
Your practice can simply perform surgeries, or it can provide people with solutions and ideas that drastically improve their quality of life. Active signposting, the development of health champions and so on can deliver outstanding care to patients – and working on this could give staff a new lease of life simply because it’s something different.
Has your practice gone the extra mile to help a patient? Has a patient seen their life improve through the actions of a staff member or signposting etc? Then shout about it – knowing they are making a difference will provide plenty of positivity to the team.
It’s human to feel wanted, so it makes sense that in the workplace people need to feel like they have a role to play. Therefore, make sure everybody gets equal attention, praise, feedback etc. and try to involve everybody in decision-making by having an open policy.
Say thank you
It may seem simple, but saying thank you to your team is a guaranteed way to make them feel appreciated and valued. A study by Glassdoor, an online career site, found that 81 percent of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.
What tricks have you used to boost positivity in your practice? What tips can you share with your fellow practice managers? Comment below or start the discussion on the Practice Index forum thread here.