Four Steps to Create a Dream Team

The most important asset that you have as a business owner/manager is the people that work for you. The lesson I’ve learned from any underdog sports movie (i.e. The Mighty Ducks, Dodgeball, Cool Runnings, Step Up 2, should I keep going?) is that you can take a ragtag group of misfits and turn them into winners as long as they have the right attitude, an intense training montage, plus a leader and/or purpose that motivates them. But it doesn’t just happen in the movies—I’ve seen it done in clinics all over the country.
Here’s what it takes to build your own dream team right in your own practice (no sports equipment or rigorous physical activity required):

Step #1: Hire for capability and train for competency

This is the “attitude” element of our underdog team analogy. Soft skills like emotional intelligence and the ability to make good decisions are paramount to professional success. Regulating emotions and correctly interpreting the verbal and nonverbal behaviors of others is a key strength in building rapport and trust with patients. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 57 percent of senior leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. An employee with a growth mindset has the capability for lifelong learning, which is at the core of agility, flexibility, and innovation. Training for competency comes in at Step 3.

Step #2: Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Vision – Share the company’s purpose. Make sure every employee understands the company’s mission, values, and vision. Working from a shared philosophy for a common cause gets people excited about their jobs. When should you do this? I’d recommend annually or semi-annually during a company meeting.

Expectations – The behaviors and outcomes that you want from your staff must be spelled out, in writing. There are two reasons for this. First, they can’t read your mind. Second, they probably aren’t going to remember a passing conversation that took place between seeing patients and/or answering phone calls. Let’s face it, most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner two days ago or even how old we are (admit it—you have to pause and think about it for a second). Expectation conversations can be kicked-off during a company meeting and then should be reinforced during one-on-one meetings between your staff and their direct supervisor. If your practice doesn’t have designated direct supervisors, it needs to be defined – even if it’s that two employees officially report to the business owner.

Feedback – Feedback must be behavior-based and timely. Provide it the moment that it’s applicable (if appropriate) or shortly thereafter. Changing behaviors in your staff is kind of like raising kids. We must be patient, we must be consistent, and most importantly, we must look in the mirror to consider which of their behaviors might be reflections of our own (eek!). My four-year-old is notoriously bossy. At any hour of the day, I may hear her walk into the kitchen and demand: “I’m thirsty. I need milk!” My routine feedback (after a deep breath) is always, “Don’t you mean; ‘May I please have some milk?’” It didn’t take a sit-down feedback session, but she knows that I believe there is a better way to handle the request. So, if you observe an opportunity to make suggestions for improved behaviors, do so while the situation is fresh in both of your minds (but not in front of others—embarrassing someone is bad for morale). These verbal feedback opportunities can be reinforced with written reminders or formal performance reviews as well.

Accountability – The best tool for accountability is a Daily Huddle when everyone on the team comes together to discuss how they will pull their weight in accomplishing the businesses’ overall mission/goals that day. Those underdog teams who end up victorious don’t adopt an ‘every man for himself’ attitude—they rally together before every play/inning/period to talk about each person’s role and how they’ll work together. Your business’ day should be no different.

Step #3: Invest in employee development

Developing your people doesn’t have to be a significant monetary investment. It could mean setting aside the time to allow them to take advantage of Consult’s Telelearning and Employee Development Programs (EDPs). When they take part in training courses, ask them to come back and report on at least one takeaway from the session. If you’re expecting them to change behaviors post-training, encouraging continuous long-term improvements is a better strategy than expecting radical overnight success. If you hire the right people with a growth mindset, you can train them to do the job the way that you want them to do it.

Step #4: Recognize accomplishments (big and small)

When your staff does something right, don’t let it go unrecognized. Remember my daughter’s demanding ways and the immediate feedback that I’ve been giving her? Well, there’s hope for her yet. Now when she walks into the kitchen, four out of five times she’ll say, “Mommy, may I please have some milk?” To which I respond: “Thank you for asking so nicely, yes you may!” With that one sentence, I’ve given feedback, recognized her accomplishment, and made her feel good about herself, therefore increasing the likelihood of her continuing to behave in this manner. How do you apply that to your staff? Perhaps you might buy the office lunch if they meet the prior month’s sales goal. Or it could be as simple as saying, “I heard how you handled that phone call. You do a great job representing us over the phone. Thank you, keep it up!”

You might be thinking ‘four steps – easier said than done.’ The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The details within all of these steps are what the Consult YHN Account Managers help practices with every day. So, if I could add one final step it would be:

Step #5:  Ask for help! That is why we’re here, after all.

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

Driving Your Team to Peak Performance in 4 Easy Steps!

My grandmother was a strong, opinionated woman who was always good for a quote. One of the things she always said was, “As much as things change, the more they stay the same.” As a child, it made little sense to me but as I grew older, I recognized the true genius of those words.

I’ve worked for a number of organizations, large and small—from quick-serve restaurants to electronics retailers to healthcare providers. As different as they were, there was one thing that was consistent: the better the people within the organization performed their individual jobs, the better the company performed as a whole. And the best leaders in those companies were the ones who identified how to get the most out of their people; in some cases getting more from the employees than they believed they were capable of giving. It’s simply about driving peak performance.

Driving peak performance of an employee is similar to what a coach does for an athlete. The athlete may have the talent, but talent isn’t always enough. A great coach brings out the very best an athlete has to give. Think about the world’s greatest athletes and consider where they might be today if they didn’t have someone who pushed them beyond what they thought were their limits.

The question is: Who is responsible for bringing out the best in your people? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the answer to that question is simple—yes, it’s you!

Why It’s Important

First, a talented and skilled workforce is the lifeblood of every organization. Companies are quickly learning the importance of having the right people. Talent is one of the last frontiers for differentiation. Any company can have a patent or produce a product. The value you create for a customer is directly linked to the value of the talent you employ. It takes talent to market the product, sell the product, and to serve customers. So, in an industry like hearing healthcare where products and prices are similar for most businesses, the biggest differentiation between competitors is: the people.

Second, is due to the “war for talent.” The country is close full employment; with the current unemployment rate a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. This indicates that anyone who wants a job most likely has one. This means that retaining your best talent is critical because replacing them has become increasingly difficult. The individuals on your team need to feel valued. The best way to do this is by providing feedback on their performance, praising them when they do well, and coaching them in areas where there’s room for improvement.

How to Implement

So, how do you do it? Just like a coach, it’s about giving consistent feedback that can be acted on right away. Most of us are familiar with giving feedback in the form of an annual performance appraisal, but a process known as Performance Management is different.

Words that describe the performance appraisal process include occasional, formal, structured, and standardized. It’s all about what’s been accomplished and is strictly a history lesson. Performance Management, on the other hand, is described as continuous, informal, flexible, and customized. It’s all about making progress, focusing on the future, and helping a person reach his or her full potential.

Performance Management Cycle

For example, most performance appraisals are conducted annually, and while that’s better than nothing, a format that provides more frequent feedback would be an improvement. Your employees are an integral and indispensable part of running your business efficiently. That’s why keeping them continuously informed on how they’re performing makes them better and therefore your business better.

Using Performance Management, you can ensure that your employees not only fulfill their responsibilities but also do so to the best of their abilities and meet your expectations. This level of performance is realized by monitoring and developing the desired traits and skill, rating their progress, and rewarding them for achievements.

The Performance Management Process

  1. Involve Employees in the Planning Stage
    Involve your employees in the planning process. When will you meet? How often? How will their performance be measured? This will help boost their morale and confidence and avoid any communication gaps.
  1. Track the Progress of Your Employees
    Measuring the performance of every employee is also important. It lets both parties know what progress has been made and what improvement must take place.
  1. Give Regular Feedback
    Talk to your people more, not less. Observe them while they’re performing assigned tasks and give them feedback right away. Meet with them more often, perhaps quarterly. Don’t forget to document every discussion.
  1. Do a Yearly Review
    The performance appraisal doesn’t go away—it becomes part of the performance management process. But think about how much easier it’ll be now that you’ve been discussing their performance all year long.

This might seem like a lot to do on your own. The good thing is you don’t have to—Consult YHN can help you put together a process for you and your entire team.

Here’s what it looks like:

 Performance Management Process

This process works across all industries and organizations. Businesses might be different, but the importance of people is constant. It’s been that way and in our hyper-competitive climate, it’s not likely to change. Looks like my grandmother understood this – I guess she really was a genius!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.

Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.