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The Power of Appreciation

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Studies have shown that dental staff are more motivated by a simple ‘thank you’ than they are by financial rewards. Employees need to be validated and appreciated as worthwhile human beings every day. Dental staff need to feel that their contributions are making a difference to the lives of the patients as well as to the success of the office. It is the staff who control the daily activities and the patients’ experience in the office while the doctor is performing dentistry.

The beauty of appreciation is that we can give it to anyone at anytime and it costs nothing except a moment of our time.   Zig Ziglar once said, “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” Appreciation is a free gift that you can give to anyone you encounter It is completely your choice. And each time you choose to thank someone for a job well done, you are making your own world a better place.

Ten things that we all need to remember about appreciation:

  1. Everyone wants it and needs it. No matter who we are or what our actions may say, we all need to be recognized and appreciated.
  2. It doesn’t have to be something big. It can be as minor as saying “thank you – you did a great job today.” The happiness of life is made up of minute moments that create positive long term effects.
  3. Make it personal. It must be sincere and spontaneous. Actively look for someone doing something “right” and make the comment while you are in the moment and it is meaningful. Not only will you lift the person’s spirits but you will also lift your own.
  4. Be creative.   Determine some unusual attention-getting, delightful ways you can thank others in your life. Consider leaving special post-it notes, happy face stickers, hand-written notes, or surprising everyone with a sushi lunch, or some kind of special surprise.
  5.  Say “thank you” or “great job” when they least expect it. I worked with a Prosthodontist many years ago who was brilliant in showing appreciation. One day, as he was escorting his patient to the front desk, his assistant was following closely behind with the chart. He turned slightly and said to his patient, “do you know that Eve is the best dental assistant in Canada?” Eve blushed, of course, knowing that she was a new grad and still making some mistakes. The doctor empowered her to believe in herself and also openly showed his patient how much he appreciated his staff.
  6. Be Sincere. People want to be appreciated for their own unique contributions. This is why regular performance reviews are so important. Dental office staff often tell me that they think the doctor doesn’t even know how hard they work or what they do to keep the office running. By meeting with your staff on an annual basis , you are letting each member know that you care about them and are aware of each person’s unique contribution to your success.
  7. Have a plan. You may be thinking, “I am too busy in a day to go around and pat everyone on the back.” That is true. So pick one day during the week, maybe today, and make a special effort to thank one person by sending an email message, writing a note, or telling them in person. If you fit this into your regular routine every Monday you are more likely to continue the momentum. It is amazing to see how people light up when you really notice them and care about what they do.
  8. Share yourself from the heart. When we truly think of others and what we can do just for them, our appreciation becomes a selfless gift of love. When you appreciate from your heart, truly giving of yourself, you touch people in ways they will never forget.
  9. Make it memorable. No matter how hold we are, we are left with unforgettable memories when someone takes the time to tell us how much they appreciate us and thank us for our good work. When we do something unusual to appreciate someone, we create a memory that will last forever.
  10. You will receive more than you give. When we reach out to celebrate and appreciate others, we will always receive more than we give. Random acts of kindness create a positive reciprocal effect whether you are the person who is expressing appreciation or the one who is receiving the message.

Once you have motivated your team to provide peak performance, the challenge is how to keep them there. Recognizing their individual talents and showing sincere appreciation consistently will help to build their confidence in their work and maintain positive momentum. Your relationship with your dental team is as important as your relationship with your patients. It thrives of a foundation of mutual respect and appreciation.

About author
Sandie Baillargeon is a leading authority on how to increase the effectiveness of medical and dental business systems. Ms. Baillargeon is author of two text books, Dental Office Administration and The Canadian Dental Office Administrator, published by ITP Nelson Canada. Sandie is the owner and operator of Dental Office Consulting Services, which specializes in dental business planning, staff development, consulting and continuing education seminars. Visit her website at www.dentalofficeconsulting.com or contact her directly at (905) 336-7624.
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