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What makes a staff a team of professionals? The Key is Attitude

What makes a staff a team of professionals? The Key is Attitude

Medial Office Manager, a newsletter for physician office administrators
By Susan Crawford
June 2008
Volume XXII, number 6

Reprinted with permission from the Medical Office Manager Newsletter
P.O. Box 52843, Atlanta, GA 30355 (404)367-1991

What makes a staff team of professionals? The key is attitude

 How can the manager turn staff into professionals?

 Focus on attitude, says CYNTHIA R. GROSSO, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette in Charleston, SC, and a speaker on corporate etiquette and professional success.

 People think professionalism is action. It’s not. “It’s an attitude.” And mostly it’s an attitude of self respect. 

 She cautions, however, that developing a professional attitude has to be something staff want to achieve, “not something they have to do.” Otherwise, they won’t put forth the effort. And what makes it attractive is the what’s-in-it-for-me, or the personal value it carries, which essentially is the fact that self respect generates returned respect from the people who see it. 

 Grosso cites several factors that take staff to the professional level – all of them amazingly simple. 

 But don’t stop with these, she says. Let staff develop other elements to add to their professional picture.

 And don’t expect to create professionalism is a day. The manager has to “remind staff again and again” that their attitude is what makes them professionals and that being professionals is what brings them personal satisfaction.

 A greeting begets a greeting:

The most important factor of professionalism is also the most often overlooked: a personal greeting. And part of that greeting is to introduce oneself.

Patients’ biggest complaint is not the wait but the fact that they aren’t greeted when they come in, Grosso says. A greeting “is a form of respect” for the patient and at the same time “a form of self respect” for the staffer, because greeting someone opens the door to being greeted back. 

If the phone is ringing and it’s not possible to speak to someone immediately, double the greeting when the call ends. Stand up “and make a big point” of giving a personal hello. 

Greetings are important within the office as well, she says. Too often staff get so focused on their jobs “that they miss the people.” 

The personal benefit of this element of professionalism: people who greet others warmly and with respect get the same in return. 

A smile creates a following:

Another important albeit small element of professionalism is smiling – at patients, at co-workers, and at the doctors.

Professionally, it promotes patient satisfaction.

For the staffer, there are several good outcomes.

One is the fact that a smile makes the smiler feel better, because the action of moving the muscles to form a smile “sends positive reactors to the brain.”

Another is that a smile indicates self confidence, and people tend to respect and follow other people who are confident, Grosso says. A smile “is the most positive thing anybody can do to influence others.” 

The overall personal benefit: smiling makes an individual somebody other people want to be with. 

A WOW! office = a WOW! staff:

Yet another small element that leads to professionalism is what Grosso terms “the WOW! factor.” It’s the one-more-thing approach of giving more than people expect. 

She cites a local tire store that always gives an extra something with a tire purchase, such as “we noticed your wipers were worn, so we replaced them free” or “your washer fluid was low, so we replaced it free.”  There’s a bottle of water on the console when the customer leaves, and there’s a flower on the seat for female customers. 

Her advice is to ask staff to come up with ways to make patients leave thinking “WOW! that was nice.” The medical profession is competitive to the point that those patients have lots of choices, and they will choose the practice that offers that one more thing. 

The personal benefit: patients view the staff as WOW! people. 

Sticks and stones:

Still more professionalism can be achieved by ending the negative remarks. The benefit to the office is obvious. A positive attitude creates a pleasant environment. The personal benefit is that plus more.

A staffer who gossips or speaks ill of peers or patients is personally destructive, Grosso explains. The negative talk undermines self thought, self confidence, and self esteem. And the people having to listen to it feel that way about the person doing the talking

There’s irony too in that the person being talked about doesn’t hear what’s said and so goes on with no negative effect at all. 

The ultimate is etiquette:

Finally, professionalism is manners and etiquette, and again, attitude makes the difference, Grosso says.

Holding a door for another person “isn’t an action but an attitude.” The same is true of letting the door slam on that other person. It’s a demonstration of attitude, and people who have that type of attitude “live their whole lives like that.” They have homes and marriages and jobs that are as negative – and as unprofessional – as they are. 

The personal benefit: manners and etiquette toward other people generate manners and etiquette toward the staffer who gives them.      

Author: Susan Crawford

Source: Medical Office Manager

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