Forget That Extra Mile: Employees Who Only Say No

Employees Who Only Say No



In recent posts, we discussed the issues of employee motivation and workplace engagement. Accessible leadership, available resources, clearly defined job roles, incentive programs, consistency, and a positive workplace culture were identified as strategies office managers and physicians could use to keep these issues from becoming a problem at their practice. But sometimes, it’s simply not enough.

To reiterate a sad fact, most American workers (this is to say more than half) seem to suffer from a lack of motivation. They admit to being disengaged at their job, and it’s no secret why. They are simply unsatisfied by their work. One thing to bear in mind here is that the issue of pay, while important to most people, isn’t the sole cause of this disengagement. You can dangle that overtime carrot in front of certain people over and over to the same response: “No thanks.”

These individuals (and you know exactly who they are) arrive on time in the morning, but often duck out a few minutes early at the end of the day. While competent, they give just enough to get by. They often appear lethargic, and irritated, and become defensive at the mere idea of doing more than their assigned share. Here is another sad fact for you to mull over: these staff members probably won’t be working for you much longer, and don’t plan on telling you this any time soon. Mentally, they have already checked out. How do you get more out of these people? Can you? How do you keep your staff from turning into the Bad News Bears of private medical practice?

Defining the culture of your practice

Yes, we did cover this already, but this point is important enough to bring up a second time, especially as it concerns a younger generation of workers, whatever industry they may work in. What does this generation need to succeed professionally?

  • Comradery and positive coworker relationships
  • Persistent encouragement
  • Recognition of a job well done
  • Opportunities for professional growth
  • A sense of “making a difference”

Didn’t see “fat paycheck” in there, did you? While we all desire gainful employment, the term carries with it more than just the prospect of a comfortable wage.

Can your staff, from the front end to the back, say that they work in an environment that exemplifies the values and expectations listed above? The minute they believe that their talents are being methodically weaponized for a bottom line instead of being yoked for a common good, their head goes down on their desk. With a lack of positive feedback and mentoring, half-hour breaks become thirty-seven minute breaks. If you don’t care, they won’t care, and will safeguard their personal time and vitality against anything you may need them to do past the eighth hour.

Finding the one “good apple”

There have always been courses and seminars dedicated to “fixing” disengaged employees. These are things managers or HR people demanded that underperforming staff complete in order that they may find that missing motivational “spark.”

… …

Unfortunately, these can feel more like a Saturday detention in middle school than a chance for improvement. The simple fact is that you can’t “fix” everybody, and shouldn’t focus on trying to do so. However, just as you are bound to have those who skip out on “the extra mile”, you will have at least one or two stars who willingly take on more. Like their counterparts, you know who they are. Their efforts speak for themselves. So, how can they help you further?

The answer to this depends on what their specific duties are, and where in the workflow they fall. Whatever the case, they must be central to daily activities. They must be in regular contact with other employees so that their efforts can be visible to them. They will set the pace, and the right example. Even if this person’s job finds them more solitary than not, you must find a way for them to take a more centralized role. A while back, we discussed the importance of designating certain high-performing, resourceful staff members as point-men for certain things. During periods of marked change, they lead conferences and discussions on what is to be expected, and field any resulting questions. Put in such a leadership role, they will be in regular contact with coworkers, including those less inclined to give the proverbial 110%.

Evaluating things at the top

Yes, at the top—the “stratosphere of leadership.” This is where managers, supervisors, and lead physicians usually reside. We try not to be redundant on this blog, so: do you personally provide each of the things mentioned in the list above? Are you involved? Do you acknowledge, and properly use employee talents? Do you at least attempt to create a sense of community? Do you provide feedback and coaching?

Okay. Maybe as the head of your practice you do your best to these ends. But what about other authority figures? How can you know if they understand what motivates staff, and if they are doing their part? One thing is for certain: your employees will know.

There is a recent workplace trend that can help you tap into employee experiences to evaluate your managers. Called “Reverse Accountability”, it ensures that managers are equally accountable to their employees. To put this into practice, all employees are allowed to give a full assessment of their superiors. This gives employees a chance to evaluate their managers, while helping you to evaluate them for development purposes. It also shows employees that their opinions mean something, that they actually affect the direction the practice is heading.

At the end of the day, what do we know? Well, what everyone does: that intrinsic passion and talent are things that people choose to harness on a daily basis. They reserve them for things like parenting, relationships, artistic pursuits, and athletics. Ideally, we would like to count our professions, our livelihoods, among those things. Do your best to make sure your practice is a place that evokes those values people need in a workplace environment, and that it invokes their talents, passions, and best efforts on a daily basis.


Brian Torchin

| HCRC Staffing | |

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