Interview with Michael Austin, SAE’s Practice Administrator
Our most important asset at SAE is our team! Bar none! Our practice’s future success is dependent on each team members continual growth and development. Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” talks about leaders having certain goals for their people but he says it’s much more effective if the people have goals that they set for themselves. That’s what we are doing here at SAE. Creating a new culture of self-accountability and self-awareness. Each team member is now responsible for his or her own results and outcomes.
“An attitude of accountability lies at the core of any effort to improve quality, satisfy customers, empower people, build teams, maximize effectiveness, and get results.”- Roger Connors author of The Oz Principle
At many businesses today, people can receive pay increases based on seniority or “what they’ve done” years prior. This often can create a very unlevel playing field. Team members that have been with a company a long time tend to not have to try to improve themselves as much. On the contrary, more recent employees, who have been working hard to learn their position, tend to not receive as much recognition for their effort.
Several years ago, we implemented a merit-based program where team members are rewarded at the end of each year, based solely on successfully reaching their goals.
How Does it Work?
Once a year we hold a “Growth Conference” where each team member sits down with their manager, one-on-one, to discuss their own strengths and weaknesses. Then together they plan out what they’d like to do about it. Even if someone has been working for 15 years, there are always aspects of that job where they can grow and learn new things.
As an example, the team member may say, “I want to become proficient at taking x-rays or I want to be certified with Microsoft Excel.” The Coordinator will then help that person create an action plan to get them to where they want to be a year from now. Perhaps they may have to take continuing education classes or train with someone. When the Growth Conference is completed the team member will now have a plan to accomplish their goals.
For our Coordinators, there may be other areas we want them to learn about or become proficient in. For example, we have Coordinators that have mastered their positions and want to challenge themselves to pursue skills in public speaking or becoming proficient in Powerpoint so they could professionally speak to our whole practice or at a dental conference.
It’s Up to Them to Make it Happen
It’s up to each person to do what’s needed to reach their goals. If they don’t take the effort seriously, the only person they can point the finger at is themselves. Michael said, “Each employee knows exactly what’s expected because they set their own goals. Our Coordinators don’t come up and remind them and say, “Hey, remember you made this goal.” If an employee needs help with meeting their goals during that year, they can then return to their Coordinator and ask for help. Each team member is now only accountable to themselves.”
Lastly, Michael stated, “We are tapping into people’s ability to develop a work ethic within themselves. They look forward to what is going to happen in the next year, asking themselves, “What new skills do I want to add to my plate?” The feeling they have when they are accomplishing something for themselves and their career can only be a positive one. And the likelihood of accomplishing goals because they want to do it is much higher.”