In healthcare, the learning never stops. Clinic staff are constantly exposed to new skills, technology, and treatment options throughout their careers.
And while that learning can be exciting, always being on the go can lead to burnout. With staff shortages and demanding schedules abound, employees can feel detached from their work.
If you manage a health practice, are you up to speed on the best ways to coach and mentor your staff? Read on to learn five tips to coach and mentor your clinic’s staff to ensure they enjoy fulfilling careers.
1. Create a career plan
Help your staff envision their path forward. For some employees, a job is more satisfying if there is potential to take on different roles and responsibilities. The promise of a promotion can be a great motivator. Even employees who prefer a lifelong calling, like nurses, will benefit from a career plan. What will it take from them to reach the next level?
Use a 30-60-90 day plan. This common tracking tool is a great way to help your employees ease into their new role. Provide benchmarks for them to in their initial weeks so they can
Get goal oriented. SMART goals will keep managers and staff accountable for shared success. Think of how your staff contribute to your overall business strategy. With SMART goals in place, they can work towards impactful achievement like booking “x” number of appointments with the quarter.
Show them the money. Raises and promotions aren’t always possible at every turn. In fact, money has proven to be a less important motivator for job happiness. Instead, be transparent where you can so you maintain realistic expectations. Experiences, like new learning opportunities, are just as satisfying as a bigger paycheck.
2. Keep an open door
Mentorship is a two-way channel. You don’t always have to be teaching and providing support from the top down. Instead, you should remain receptive to feedback so your staff can communicate how they feel. Your staff will appreciate having an open ear to voice their concerns and opinions.
Host 1:1 sessions. A 1:1 session is the perfect opportunity for your team to voice their feelings and concerns on the job. In a 1:1 meeting, you can get a sense of your staff’s job satisfaction and take action if they’re experiencing burnout. You can also provide feedback on their work and offer support if necessary.
Make meetings matter. Consider team meetings as an opportunity for peers to voice their feedback together. Instead of only providing directives, you can learn a great deal from frontline operations staff.
Collect anonymous feedback. Sometimes, 1:1 or team meetings still can’t capture the full story. You can only provide effective mentorship by understanding how your staff really feels. An anonymous survey, perhaps conducted every quarter, is a great tool to capture feedback from employees who are too shy to speak up.
3. Provide learning opportunities
In healthcare, learning on the job comes naturally. Staff are adapting to surprises (like a pandemic) and urgent patient situations all the time. Still, you should consider providing structured learning opportunities that your staff can take on their own terms. Hosted learning sessions are a great way for staff to explore their interests and advance in their field.
Bring experts onsite. You can’t mentor everyone all by yourself. Instead, bring in external experts to help develop your team. A leadership training workshop, for example, is a great way to build confidence among junior staff.
Create a book club. Books are an inexpensive way to bring your team together for bonding and learning. From healthcare books to history and memoir, a book club can spark meaningful discussions that challenge your team with fresh perspectives.
Give educational stipends. Maybe your staff are attending classes part-time. Help ease their financial burden with a quarterly learning bonus. Educational stipends are invaluable perks that help your staff grow in their fields.
4. Make training interactive
Whether your day-to-day work life is in a physical therapy clinic, a dental office, or an urgent care building, learning “in the office” can sometimes be boring.
When thinking of how to coach and mentor your staff, consider more interactive approaches that keep them on their toes. Coaching should be an ongoing practice, so make sure you’re even engaging your senior employees in surprising ways
Gamification. Everyone loves a good game. When teaching new skills, consider implementing trivia or a friendly competition to test your team’s knowledge. Games help your team retain key information and build team bonding. Bonus points for the best team name — Dental Dominoes, Fierce Physicians, Thriving Therapists?
Tell a story. Stories are effective for connecting your training with real world examples. You can encourage staff to share their successes or even invite patients to share a live testimonial. A good story can bring the demanding challenge of clinical work into context and motivate your team.
Bridge the generation gap. Younger employees have much to learn from their older counterparts, and vice versa. Foster team learning by allowing both groups to train each other in their respective fields. Older employees have leadership and management experience, while the younger group are more in touch with technology.
5. Encourage work-life balance
You can only be an effective mentor if you prioritize your team’s work-life balance. Across your business, employees in every role should be encouraged to protect their mental health and enjoy life outside of work. This goes for you as well. The best leaders know when to hit pause to take a step back.
Create flexible schedules. If your team needs to juggle priorities outside of work like childcare, give them a say in their schedules. They’ll feel more empowered in their work and more productive day-to-day. Flexible schedules are the future, so it’s time for you to get onboard.
Have a flexible vacation policy. The pandemic halted travel plans everywhere. As travel regulations ease up, make sure your team is allowed to take their well-earned vacation. They’ll serve patients much better after a stint at the beach.
Provide mental health resources. If your staff gets stretched to the limit, do they have the proper channels to recover? Beyond your 1:1 meetings, make sure your team can access support services like counseling, meditation sessions, and mental health training. Clinical work can be stressful, so take the proper steps as a mentor to prevent burnout.
Find your way
As a mentor, you’re closely supporting your staff’s growth while giving them the proper space to work at their pace. Remember to enjoy the process and privilege of leadership.
Seeing your employees reach new heights on their learning journeys is always worth the dedicated effort. And when your staff are happy, your patients will be in better care. Download The Practice Manager’s Guide to Creating a Better Patient Experience for even more tips to motivate your staff and keep your patients happy.