It is unfortunate if team members are only recognized or singled out when something goes wrong. Team members need to sense appreciation and receive recognition for a job well done. In his book, 1501 Ways to Reward Employees, Robert Nelson states “While money is important to employees, what tends to motivate them to perform and to perform at higher levels is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition for a job well done.13 Team members want to be trusted to do a good job; they want autonomy to decide how best to do it; they want to be asked their opinion and involved in decisions - especially as those decisions affect them and their work; and; they want to be supported, even if they make a mistake. Most important they want to be appreciated when they do a good job.”13
Unfortunately, managers/employers are more likely to take time to deliver criticism than praise. Many reserve praise for the annual performance review. If the only feedback is when they mess up, that takes a toll over time. It needs to be done every day not once a year.
Recognition can range from a simple thank you to more formal recognition. Employers should make an effort to say thank you to team members whenever possible. A verbal thank you is appropriate anytime a team member enhances a patient experience, i.e.: placating an irate patient at the front desk, calming a nervous patient in the dental chair during treatment. An effort should be made by the dentist to individually verbally thank team members on especially productive and smooth sailing days.
More formal and public recognition can be offered when a team member regularly contributes to the practice’s growth and well-being. A public display of appreciation is one of the most effective means of motivation.
A “Team Member of the Month” program can be instituted. The “Team Member of the Month” is determined by the use of Bravo cards. Bravo cards are distributed throughout the office and are completed by patients, team members and dentists. Whenever a team member provides exceptional service to a patient, coworker or dentist, a Bravo card is completed by the beneficiary of the deed and placed in a box. At the end of the month, the cards are counted and the team member with the most cards is the “Team Member of the Month.” Likewise, when determining the team member of the year, the total number of Bravo cards received by the team member during the past year are counted.
Examples of situations where a Bravo card would be completed are:
Completed by patient
Completed by team members
Completed by the dentist
(This act does not preclude the obligation of the dentist verbalizing thank you to the team member immediately after the incident and at the end of the day.)
The following are some suggestions for providing recognition:
No cost recognition
Low cost recognition
More formal recognition (For the Team Member of the Year)
Remember to include part-time team members in your recognition plans.14