Creating a successful team of people who work well together and work for the common goal of the practice has always been a challenge. Over the past few years, this challenge has magnified. Not only has it been difficult to find employees that want to work, but it has also been more difficult getting them to work well together.

Prior to the pandemic, Gallup reported that there were five tactics of teamwork that they call the “5 Cs” – Common purpose, connection, communication, collaboration, and celebration. In order for managers or business owners to have any influence over a group of people and create an engaged team, they need to use their strengths in these areas to influence the team. It is daily engagement in these areas with the people that we work with that will over time make the big difference in how they adapt to the team and become an active, engaged employee.

That old saying, “There is no I in team” is true, but far too often it is just a belief and not a practice. When you are working to develop a group of people to become a great team, they need to know that they are valued. It begins with their first day on the job. The following is from my book “Truths From the Trenches” on creating an “A” team.

Train for Success—Their Success

It’s important that employees have the training and tools they need to be successful in your practice. In a medical office, you’ll never be done with training the staff because the systems and procedures are always changing—especially with the way technology is used in the workplace. When your employees attain their training goals, the practice obtains its goals. Their continued education improves the practice and service you provide to your patients.

It’s easy to assume that your employees understand more than they actually do when they’re being trained, whether it’s their initial job training or if you’re training for a new task. Everyone has a different way of learning, and if you don’t take the time to ask the employee what they understand as you go along, you can only assume that they’ve learned what you meant to teach. And you don’t want to make assumptions.

It's easy to assume staff understand more than they do

To avoid that, try coaching them rather than training them. In coaching, you teach them the basics of their job duties first and support that teaching with visual and written protocols. When they’ve learned their basic job tasks, go back and review them from time to time to make sure the basics stick.

From the employee’s perspective, learning new things can be overwhelming. They might be afraid to ask questions or let you know they don’t understand something for fear of seeming inadequate. Start slowly. If they get overwhelmed, they can’t retain the information they need to learn to fulfill their responsibilities. Since the threshold of what a person can learn and retain in one session varies, be sure to discuss this with the trainee, so they can let you know how they’re doing.

Prepare a notebook that contains the pertinent job tasks protocols and include some blank sheets of paper, so they can take notes during their training and refer back to them later. If they get stuck on the job, they can check their notebook for instructions rather than interrupt another employee to re-teach them. When you break down their duties into clear concepts with specific goals to attain, you set them up for success.

Give them praise and appropriate constructive criticism in equal measure as required. Praise is especially important. When it’s necessary to correct, do it in a non-threatening manner. Let them know that your goal is for them to excel in this position, and that it’s necessary for them to learn the job tasks correctly.

Create a job task training timeline that includes the job task(s) to be taught, which week that training will take place, and a regular, weekly time to review their training progress. During this time, the employee can demonstrate that they’ve learned the task. As the employee completes each week’s training goals, new ones are scheduled for the following week. This way, your new hire will understand that you’re invested in their success and want to establish open communications. That will build their trust in you and foster a good working relationship.

Training and coaching take time and patience, but it’s worth it to have happy, successful employees who achieve the goals you’ve set for them.

Develop an Environment for Continued Training and Teamwork

Building a team of any kind—sports, work, family, or community-related—takes work, and the process of keeping your team together and assuring that everyone’s on the same page is an ongoing effort. There are a few key elements that need to be in the mix to develop an A+ team. Be sure to emphasize these key elements:

  1. Everyone on the team is expected to lead by example. Great team players don’t wait to see how others on the team perform before they do their part. They jump in feet first, focus on their job tasks, and do the best job they can, so the team will be successful.
  2. All team members build relationships with each other and help one another. They take the company’s vision and goals and apply them, not only to their position, but they also find ways to help their fellow team members in order to reach the company goals.
  3. Team members hold one another accountable. Everyone makes mistakes and great team players recognize this. But they also know when someone is slacking off and needs a nudge to get back in the game and play by the rules.
  4. Great team players have positive, contagious attitudes. Their demeanor is positive and uplifting, which fosters good relationships amongst the team.
  5. Great team players are humble. They know they’re a player on the team just like the others. No superstars allowed. They’re open to learning and correction, so the team gets stronger and reaches their goals.

“I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work on such a team. Over the years, my teammates have been amazing, and I’ve always felt privileged to work side-by-side with them. Notice that I said work with them. This is one of the most important factors of successful teams. Each member needs to see that the manager is working hard to meet the goals of the overall practice and for each person who works there. The employees know it takes work to keep everyone moving forward, and they’re willing to do what it takes themselves to help create an A+ team. They’ve seen that work ethic demonstrated by their manager and they feel their manager’s support.”

Creating a team takes time, effort, and a passion for doing it.  If I can help you along your journey of creating a team reach out and let’s talk.

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