Leaders are thinking more and more about employee engagement. And if you take a look at the research published on employee engagement, you can see why. Workplaces with more engaged employees are more profitable. They are more productive and have better client service. They change faster, easier and attract and retain better talent. One study showed that highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave for another job when compared to disengaged employees. I’ve worked with many veterinary practices and can conclude the following:
Practices with highly engaged employees are happier places and have less stress. There is more teamwork and a greater sense of fulfillment. People high five more at the end of the day rather than shuffle out with their heads down.
Creating a team of fully engaged people in your veterinary practice will make it more successful. The 3 critical “C’s” that drive employee engagement are: culture, coaching and connection.
Culture is defined a million ways. But everyone knows a strong effective culture when they’re in it. It’s often described as “how we do things around here.” I think of it as organizational influences that guide individual behavior. No matter how you define it, it is a critical driver of employee engagement. Employees want to work in a practice where they can contribute. They want to make a difference in patient care. They enjoy providing outstanding client service. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t some segment of the population that just want their paycheck no matter where they work. But, the right culture quickly causes them to look elsewhere.
With the right culture, your identity becomes a practice filled with fully engaged teams and leaders. Clients will quickly realize that the bar at your practice is high. You have to bring your best to be part of this team! Your employees help you recruit others like them because they don’t want people there who aren’t a good fit with the culture. Most problems self-correct without the involvement of “management.” Why? The staff around an issue addresses it before it becomes a bigger issue. When you build a culture where only fully engaged people participate, then you only have fully engaged people. It’s not easy or quick, but it can be done. Practice culture will drive engagement...you won’t have to.
It has been said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave supervisors. The research shows this. Corporate Leadership Council research indicates that high potential employees with an effective manager are up to 35% more likely to be fully engaged. The managers in your practice have a tremendous effect on employee engagement. Yet, we often settle for mediocre managers. Managers must become effective team coaches and developers. You want a staff that shows up looking to contribute, rather than just put in time, right? If your managers aren’t developing their capability to coach and lead your team effectively in a sustainable way, then you have no shot at creating a culture of highly engaged and committed people. If you do create great coaches, you can reach your goals. You can adapt to change. And, you can build teams that are accountable and completely change the way you practice medicine.
Connection means two things as it relates to an organization. First, it means connection between employees’ personal goals and what they do every day. Second, it means a connection to the practice mission and team. People want to contribute to something that matters. They also want to feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. If you meet those two things, then they are more likely to stay with your practice and remain engaged. What does your practice stand for? Do you have a vision that people want to be part of? Does it attract people who can and do make a difference? When I first work with a practice, many times the team can’t even tell me what the vision is. It can’t be something you wrote down and posted in the treatment room. It has to become who you are as a practice. The team has to align with what they want to accomplish personally AND with who you are as a hospital. Your vision won’t fit for everyone. But by declaring it, you will find more people who connect with it.