Are Staff Happy?

Received this recently and thought I’d share it because I believe it is relevant to the owners of all professional practices.

What are you doing to make sure that your team works together and stays together?

Editorial – Are Staff Happy?
By Steve Gold, Editor, Management in Brief

I’ve just got back from not one, but two business shows this week in, respectively, London and Birmingham, and the one thing that struck me was that – behind the smiles to customers – staff were not happy.

When I say unhappy, I mean unhappy with their lot in life as regards business, and judging from the off-guard comments, it all comes down to the managers at the companies they are working for.

Poor management? Quite possibly, so I was interested to see a news story from P&MM Motivation in which John Sylvester, the firm’s executive director, said that keeping employees motivated throughout the recession is “a marathon and not a sprint.”

According to Sylvester, the announcement that the UK `officially’ came out of its recession at the beginning of 2010 may have offered some encouragement of a positive outlook for the year ahead.

However, he says, nobody is really left in any doubt that the end is, in fact, nowhere near to nigh as the UK’s economy remains in its turbulent predicament.

“To see this dim light at the end of the tunnel only for it to be quickly extinguished again, as the patience and resilience of organisations and their employees is tested further, really brings home the truth that maintaining morale through this difficult era must be considered as a marathon and not a sprint,” he said.

Sylvester argues that motivation must remain high on the business agenda throughout 2010 in order to break through the brick wall that marathon runners meet in the final stages of their race.

Continual re-engagement, he says, is required in order to keep employees tuned into the changing company objectives so that they can head enthusiastically onto the next stage.

“Many job roles will have changed over the last year and feelings of job security may also be frail. Take the time to communicate with a workforce and inform them of what the organisation collectively requires in order to get back on top,” he explained.

The P&MM Motivation chief executive says that, on an individual level, managers should redefine each job proposition and set appropriate targets linked directly to the wider company goals.

They should, he observes, offer incentives for reaching these targets, as this approach to `sharing the fruits’ of success will be well received in an environment where pay freezes are the norm.

“All things going well, the need for further redundancies is less likely this year so employers are tasked with assuring staff of their job security,” he said.

The key to all of this, he says, is `recognition’ as this will help to ensure that employees feel valued and rewarded for the extra hard work, commitment and contributions that the current situation demands.

Sylvester claims that, if these efforts are not properly recognised, staff will quickly lose their enthusiasm and begin to set their sights on leaving once the recession has subsided.

In fact, he says, CIPD figures suggest that over a third of workers intend on seeking new employment as soon as the recession has subsided.

If managers can pre-empt this negative attitude by looking after valued staff now, they will weather the storm, as he quite rightly observes – the marathon is far from over.

I think he’s right too. As my experiences at the two business shows I’ve attended this last week clearly show, junior and mid-ranking staff in a large number of organisations are not happy with their employers.

We all have to pay the rent or mortgage, which is why most of choose to work as we do. When this recession ends, you can expect large-scale staff movements between companies.

As some companies will discover to their cost, when their most valuable staff start jumping ship.

Have a good business day.


“Reducing Dental Errors Using Pilot Safety Protocol”

I have a client who is both a dentist and a pilot, on his recommendation  I read a book called “Air Accident Investigation” which examines (as you would gather) air accidents. My client has long been a fan of checklists in his practice in order to practice preventively, in this case to prevent mistakes. He’ll be pleased to see this article and I think a lot more surgeons and their teams could benefit from taking note of the principles.

Pilots and dentists have more in common than one might think: Both jobs are highly technical and require teamwork. Both are subject to human error where small, individual mistakes may lead to catastrophe if not addressed early.

A dental professor at the University of Michigan and two pilot-dentists believe that implementing a checklist of safety procedures in dental offices similar to procedures used in airlines would drastically reduce human errors.

Crew Resource Management empowers team members to actively participate to enhance safety using forward thinking strategies, said Russell Taichman, U-M dentistry professor and director of the Scholars Program in Dental Leadership. Taichman co-authored the study, “Adaptation of airline crew resource management (CRM) principles to dentistry,” which will appear in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Airlines implemented CRM about 30 years ago after recognizing that most accidents resulted from human error, said co-author Harold Pinsky, a full-time airline pilot and practicing general dentist who did additional training at U-M dental school.

“Using checklists makes for a safer, more standardized routine of dental surgery in my practice,” said David Sarment, a third co-author on the paper. Sarment was on the U-M dental faculty full-time before leaving for private practice. He is also a pilot and was taught to fly by Pinsky.

CRM checklists in the dentist’s office represent a major culture shift that will be slow to catch on, but Pinsky thinks it’s inevitable.

“It’s about communication,” Pinsky said. “If I’m doing a restoration and my assistant sees saliva leaking, in the old days the assistant would think to themselves, ‘The doctor is king, he or she must know what’s going on.'” But if all team members have a CRM checklist, the assistant is empowered to tell the doctor if there is a problem. “Instead of the doctor saying, ‘Don’t ever embarrass me in front of a patient again,’ they’ll say, ‘Thanks for telling me.'”

At each of the five stages of the dental visit, the dental team is responsible for checking safety items off a codified list before proceeding. Pinsky said that while he expects each checklist to look different for each office, the important thing is to have the standards in place.

Studies show that CRM works. Six government studies of airlines using CRM suggest safety improvements as high as 46 percent. Another study involving six large corporate and military entities showed accidents decreased between 36-81 percent after implementing CRM. In surgical settings, use of checklists has reduced complications and deaths by 36 percent.

Many other industries: hospitals; emergency rooms; and nuclear plants look to the airline industry to help craft CRM programs, but dentistry hasn’t adopted CRM, said Pinsky.

For the next step, the co-authors hope to design a small clinical trial in the dental school to test CRM, Taichman said.

Laura Bailey
University of Michigan

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