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A Humanistic Approach to Team Member Motivation

Course Number: 525


Self-actualization embraces the U.S. Army slogan “BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE.” The most direct way to accomplish this is by encouraging job ownership by team members. Robert Kriegel and David Brandt report in their book, “Sacred Cows make the Best Burgers,” owning one’s own business is one of the top three motivators, along with travel and financial independence. They found some of the reasons people give for wanting to own their own business include: To make my own decisions,” “To be my own boss,” “To have rewards related to results,” “Not have someone looking over my shoulder,” and “To take charge of my future."2

Barring profit sharing, the best way to create ownership is by giving team members as much control over their destinies as possible. They may not be able to own the company but they can "own" their jobs.

Suggestions for encouraging job ownership include:

  • Encourage Advancement The high school student you hired as a file clerk does not want to remain in the chart room forever. He/she wants to advance to a position that provides for increased income, responsibility and skills. When filling an entry-level position, inform the new team member this is an entry level position and an opportunity exists to advance to higher levels of responsibility and salary. Point out other team members that advanced since their hiring. Provide the new team member with a distinct goal to strive for.

  • Promote from Within When an advanced level position becomes available, avoid the urge to place an ad in the classified section. Look within the current team for a replacement. Promoting existing team members has several advantages over hiring new personnel. Personality and honesty are known factors with existing team members. New team members may not live up to their resume and letters of recommendation. Teaching new skills to an existing team member, familiar with office policies and culture, is simpler than teaching a new team member new skills and office etiquette. Most important, by promoting a current team member the person is motivated to perform at an even higher level.

  • Delegate Responsibility Delegating responsibility to team members allows them to learn new skills and makes for a more interesting job. An additional benefit is reducing stress on the dentist and upper management by allowing them to perform more productive duties. Jobs like billing and insurance processing should be performed by team members not by the dentist, whose time is better utilized rendering dental care.

    Delegation of responsibilities, tasks and discovering solution to problems are not merely “dumping” what’s on your plate onto someone else’s. Appropriate delegation allows a person to maximize his/her time and talent to focus on achieving meaningful goals.

    Reasons to Delegate:

    • Delegation frees up your time and energy to perform at a higher level because there is less clutter in your life.
    • Delegation lets you take on more challenging projects and activities.
    • Delegation enables you to reduce time at work and increase personal time to do enjoyable activities.
    • Delegation allows your team to reach new personal and professional heights.
    • Delegation shows recognition and trust of the team member's ability to get things accomplished.
    • Delegation build's team skill and esteem.
    • Delegation creates opportunity for things to get done in new and innovative ways.
    • Delegation reduces delay by converting tasks into action.
    • Delegation helps create greater efficiency, especially when performed by others with greater expertise.
  • Provide Continuous Training Refining current skills and learning new ones, even without formal promotions, motivates team members. It makes their job more interesting and more productive. The better trained a team member, the easier to move that person into another position should the need arise. Team members should be provided with an office manual that clearly defines the scope of their responsibilities and office policies. Although they are expected to follow these policies, they are encouraged to make suggestions to improve the policy and responsibilities.

    The morning huddle can provide training on a daily basis. Team members can brush up on a clinical technique that may be used that day, especially if they are unfamiliar with it or haven’t performed it in a while. They can prepare themselves for unusual situations or patients that are anticipated during the day.

  • Regular Team Meetings In addition to morning huddles to keep the team literally on the same page in terms of schedules, patients with special needs and patients needing to make financial arrangements for their dental care, regularly held team meetings offer a unique avenue to meet Maslow’s needs in the areas of belonging/relatedness, personal growth and even self-actualization. Well-run team meetings can include: relationship building through sharing of rewarding experiences in the personal and practice lives of each individual team member; learning opportunities from educational topics such as community projects, presentations by consultants or local experts; developing or reformulating the practice’s mission and values; reviewing practice financial performance; and rotating the meeting leader so that each team member learns how to facilitate a meeting.15