Rock Star Employees
Your physician practice rock star employees need some love. Here’s how to get started.
For a long time, the highest praise I could offer, in my mind, was a paycheck. Employees get paid every two weeks, so why do I have to say more? That mind-set led to lots of turnover. Praise is free. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you. Loosen up and spread the word that good work is appreciated.
Things don’t always turn out as planned. Praise the effort. Look for successes along the road. Let them know that you’re in it with them and that you appreciate their work. Be encouraging, be positive, and tell them how great they’re doing.
When things go well, be generous. Don’t limit rewards to just praise. Buy the plane ticket for the vacation, order the book you know they’d love, and send them to the continuing education program that’s really just a paid umbrella-drink vacation. What is perceived as a reward varies from person to person. One person is thrilled with a book as a gift; another perceives it as increased responsibility; another perceives it as a bonus or increased compensation. Get to know your rock stars so you’ll know what’s best.
Brag About Them
Tell anybody who’ll listen about what a great job your rock stars do. Spread the word. Don’t keep it a secret. Yep, bragging increases their value in the marketplace and makes it more likely that someone will offer them a job, but do it anyway. They’ll appreciate it, and they deserve it.
Sit them down. Close the door. Look in their eyes and thank them for what they’re doing. Shake their hand. Tell them how much you appreciate it. Saying “thank you” is more powerful than we imagine. It doesn’t have to be accompanied by a check or a fruit basket. Taking the time, focusing on the task, and communicating your gratitude sincerely is powerful all by itself.
Allow Best Employees to Take Risks
Trusting your rock stars is powerful and affirming. It won’t always work out, but it’s worth doing. When you take risks, things don’t always go according to plan. Likewise, things won’t always go according to plan for rock stars. All movement comes with risk. Constraining risk constrains the rewards. Assume that your rock stars can handle some risk. Then man up and take the blame when it doesn’t work out.
Ask for Their Feedback
Your rock stars have lots of ideas about how you can do better. In fact, your rock stars want you to step up, get out of your own way, and be more effective. Ask for honest, open feedback and let it happen. Say “thank you” and don’t explain yourself. Take some time to let it sink in and do what you can to improve. You’re on the same team. It’s not mean-spirited criticism; it’s constructive.
Rock star employees get respect because they earn it. Treat your rock stars as your peers. Treat your rock stars as equals. Treat your rock stars better than you’d like to be treated. You can’t fake it. Your rock stars will know. Understand that the rock-star qualities are rare. Rock stars deserve the special treatment.
Ask Best Employees for Advice
Don’t assume you know the answers or have the solutions. Turn to your ownership-minded employees for help when you need it. Get input, ask for advice, and then act upon it. Your rock stars see things more clearly sometimes because they aren’t affected by the same emotions as you. Listen to their input. You’re lucky to have people so interested that they’ll offer an opinion. Then either take their advice or create an alternative plan together.
Give Them Credit
When the wins come – and they’ll come more as you build a team of rock stars – give them the credit. Thank them, praise them, brag about them, and reserve none of the credit for yourself. Give it all away. It’s the most powerful gift you can offer.
Take the Blame
Yes, your best employees do screw up. They’ll screw up even bigger if you give them the authority they need to make the big decisions. Give them that authority anyway.
Expect a disaster from time to time, because it probably would have happened even if you retained the authority for yourself. When it comes, take the blame. Debrief in private, figure out where it went wrong, and learn from the experience. Model great leadership behavior so your rock stars will learn – this time – from you.