Change Your Staff's Annoying Workplace Habits

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By Dr. Rhonda Savage

If you're like most bosses, you have employee-driven pet peeves and frustrations you deal with on a daily basis. Whether it's bad manners or using company time for personal phone calls, if you've ever managed a team you've probably had to deal with these behaviors at some point. The problem is, while most of these pet peeves start off as small frustrations, they can turn into bigger problems for you and the business in the long run. The question is, as a manager, what can you do to change these behaviors so they don't affect the business negatively?

1. They complain about not being appreciated or recognized enough
Dial up the praise and appreciation in your office by personally making a daily effort to recognize the good efforts of your team members. Praise and appreciation, done well, is genuine, specific and timely. The more you dial up the praise and appreciation, the more productive and engaged employees will be! Start your team meetings with each one bragging on how they helped a client or resolved a difficult situation and then have everyone cheer them on. Change the environment of your team meeting by starting with the positive rather than a focus on the negative.

2. They don't follow-through when I ask them to do something
Asking an employee to do something over and over will lead to frustration. You need to be careful to not micromanage, but if an employee isn't doing what they need to do, bring it to their attention. Make certain they know what they need to do and ask them to write it down. Suggest they carry a small pad of paper with them and anytime you ask them to do something, to write it down. Set a deadline for them to report back to you and then you won't have to wonder whether or not the task was accomplished. Employees need detailed, specific instruction, coaching, feedback and appreciation or correction. If someone doesn't do what they need to do despite your efforts, the next step is to sit down with the employee one-on-one and resolve the issue.

3. Their bad manners
In an office environment, especially in offices where clients visit, messy or rude habits are unacceptable. Chewing gum and eating in common areas is unprofessional. Be sure you have chewing gum and any other personnel policies in your office policy manual. By having private, employee-only areas in the office and having a system in place for lunch breaks, you should be able to avoid these issues. Be clear about your expectations with your employees and hold them accountable, fairly and consistently, for their actions.

Additionally, if a current or potential client visits an office that looks messy or disorganized, it can reflect badly on the business. If employees' work areas are not kept clean and organized, they can lose important paperwork and become distracted by the mess. Explain to your team the benefits to keeping the office clean and offer advice on how they can manage their own workspaces.

4. They don't update me regularly with information on their clients
As a manager, you don't always have the opportunity to keep up with current and potential clients on a daily basis. This is where the importance of your employees' ability to build relationships and listen to the customer comes into play. As your staff is building these relationships, train them from the beginning to communicate this information to you. Have policies in place where employees update you daily or weekly on the status of each client or potential client. You can even do this at your weekly staff meetings.

5. They don't listen to the customer

Listening skills are your employees' number one "sales" tool. As employees, their job is to understand the customers' needs and concerns. Listening to the customer and understanding these things will help you offer better service to them. This connects the client to the business and makes the client feel "heard." As your employees are building these relationships, they should be relaying the information to you as the manager. By communicating any problems or concerns the clients have to you, your employees can prevent small concerns from becoming big problems.

6. They don't feel comfortable talking to a potential client about our services
Every employee should be able to confidently talk to prospective clients about the products or services you offer. Train your team to speak for you. They need to feel confident that they're saying what you would want them to say, especially in a difficult situation. Scripting is a valuable training tool. Write down the common concerns and questions of your customers and train your employees on how to respond.

7. They use their cell phones and the Internet for personal reasons on company time
Cell phone use, texting and personal Internet use are a form of time embezzlement. Not only are these habits detrimental to the business and the customer, but resentment will build among your team members that are not doing these things. When resentment builds, morale drops. When morale goes down, production goes down.

It's up to the owner or manager to limit use of these items and all team members need to be held accountable to the same standards. Many offices pass word control the use of computers to identify misuse. In addition, your IT person can limit access. Some offices have installed security cameras as well to monitor behavior.

8. They cry when stressful scenarios and conflict arise

At times, tears may be from frustration, anger or fear, especially with the younger members on your staff. Whether they are crying as a result of stress or a bad review, as a manager, you need to reason with this person and change the path, by calmly suggesting other ways to respond. Sit down and discuss why your employee feels the way he or she feels and how you might help resolve the issue or give tools to cope. Employers or managers that act out in anger will have more turnover and job dissatisfaction. Belittling or criticizing the employee, especially in front of another person, will only make the problem worse. The problem with a person who cries is others will avoid approaching them because of fear of their response. As the leader, it's your job to facilitate the necessary change.

By following these guidelines, you can prevent what start as pet peeves from turning into big problems between you and your staff. Your staff will respect you for working with them to change these habits, rather than complaining about them to other employees. Helping employees understand their role in making the business successful gets them involved and dedicated to doing their part. You'll be happier, you're staff will be engaged and the business will be successful!

Dr. Rhonda Savage is a speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. For more information on her speaking, visit www.DentalManagementU.com or e-mail Rhonda@MilesandAssociates.net.

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