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Managers: 7 ways to create a positive practice culture
Just how do you create a positive culture? Take these seven steps to find your happy place.
Every workplace, from a veterinary practice to a high-powered law firm, has a culture. A business's values and processes—everything from how leaders communicate with employees to how successes are rewarded to how (or whether) work life balance is achieved—determine its culture. Employees might describe culture as "how we do things around here," and the culture sets the tone for how these employees act and feel at work. (Test whether your practice's culture is positive by clicking here to take our BizQuiz.)
A positive organizational culture is associated with higher performance, productivity, and employee retention rates, according to Cultivating Effective Corporate Cultures, a 2008 study conducted by the American Management Association (AMA). Why? Because people who work at companies with positive cultures are generally happier with their jobs, and happy people work better. Here's what you can do to increase the good vibes—and good work—at your practice.
1. Show you can be trusted. This goes along with helping employees know their self-worth. They trust you because you trust them. To foster trust, keep team members in the know about what direction the business is going. Tell the truth, even when it's difficult. Encourage the team to accomplish the business's goals as well as individual professional goals. Involve employees at every level in the decision-making process.
2. Encourage learning. Many team members may feel comfortable with the status quo, but the reality is the world is always changing. Being in an environment that allows people to learn new things and develop new skills is a big deal—for employees' personal satisfaction as well as the practice's ongoing success.
3. Make mistakes. This may seem strange, but a flub every now and then is a good thing. And you must show team members that their snafus can be helpful. When an employee blunders, use the misstep as an opportunity to teach the team. Then move on. Try to create an environment where employees feel more valuable after correcting their mistakes rather than belittled or afraid.
4. Listen to suggestions and solutions. Sure, you allow team members to talk to you about their ideas, but do you ever truly consider and even incorporate those ideas? Team members engage in client and employee interactions that you don't, so they just might be able to show you a new perspective. Encouraging them to contribute and accepting their ideas increases their desire to improve. This also helps team members become accustomed to accommodating change.
5. Be your best. When you stay positive, work hard, and learn alongside the team, you're leading by example. Give your employees the tools to do the same. Send them to CE, hold regular team meetings, give them proper training and support, and hold regular performance evaluations.
6. Mentor someone. Nothing boosts your ego like developing self-worth—and nothing gives you more of that than taking someone else under your wing. The person you mentor will also grow in confidence.
7. Reward and recognize. This doesn't have to be elaborate. For example, if the team is crazy busy and everyone is standing in the back scarfing down lunch, walk in and say, "Wow, you guys are doing a great job today." Simple words and gestures show you appreciate a team that sticks together and tries to have fun even when the going gets tough.
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