Creating An Enjoyable Experience

How to establish a healthy practice culture that satisfies staff.

By Davis Johnson

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What a simple yet powerful message by American poet Maya Angelou. When applied to staff, this “how-you-made-people-feel” perspective can significantly shape behavior and interactions in a practice.

As a leader, it is imperative that you know how staff members feel about working for your practice. If staff genuinely enjoys what they do, studies show that they’re more likely to deliver exceptional service. An exceptional customer service experience will increase the likelihood that patients will return to the practice and tell others about their experience. As a result, an increase in patient recruitment, conversion, and retention typically occurs.

The Approach

Creating an environment where employees look forward to coming to work—and regularly provide great customer service—starts with culture. Establishing the right culture is key because it sets the tone of the practice and influences how staff members treat and interact with one another. Further, it influences employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. Below are a few proven ways to establish a healthy work culture.


Define core values. Culture is built upon a group’s beliefs, values, attitudes, and knowledge. As a result, to create your practice culture, you need to first define your values by writing down adjectives and phrases that best identify and reflect your perspective. For instance, do you value a casual, noncompetitive business environment, or a strict, competitive one? If you are intentional and deliberate in identifying the key characteristics you want to foster, they will ultimately shape the behavior that’s exhibited in the office. To increase long-term buy-in from everyone, get the entire staff involved instead of doing it alone or with just a few key leaders.

Craft a meaningful mission statement. Creating a useful mission statement is the next step in establishing a culture foundation. Sometimes called a vision statement, it’s the why behind all decisions and actions made. It can be as simple as a single sentence, but it should be written to accurately reflect your core values. By creating a mission statement and identifying your core values, all the decisions you and your staff make moving forward become that much easier and clearer. Why? Because every decision made, every action taken, is guided by your core values and mission statement.

Inspire staff with servant leadership. Nothing is more effective in encouraging certain behavior among staff than practice leaders exhibiting it on a daily basis. It is so much easier to implement permanent, positive behavior when stereotypical examples of management are replaced by real leadership. Truly inspirational leadership is exhibited when individuals follow the practice’s core values, are willing to admit mistakes, applaud others, and get down in the trenches to contribute as needed. Staff members will take note of these instances and follow the lead of management.

Leverage staff’s strongest skills. Placing every employee in the right position is essential in creating a happy and harmonious practice environment. To determine placement, consider and weigh each employees skill set, strengths, and temperament. If there is an employee not in the right position, don’t be afraid to transition that individual into another role where he or she can excel. An employee in the right role will be happier, as will those who work closely with the individual. When everyone is in the right role, the practice can run efficiently without much interpersonal drama or friction going on behind the scenes.

Empower staff. To create and nurture a healthy work environment, be sure to promote an atmosphere that allows employees to make their own decisions within the parameters of their job. This empowers employees and signals to them that you trust and believe in them to make good decisions. It also gives them more freedom and self-actualization in their role. Employees with appropriate autonomy are happier and more satisfied with their work than ones that are micromanaged.

Integrate staff training. People are the No.1 asset of your business, so be sure to reinvest in them. Ongoing staff training is not only vital to achieve stellar patient experience, but to make employees feel that there are growth and advancement opportunities within the practice. It also signals to them that they are important and worthy members of the team. Staff training can be carried out on your own, or you can also reach out to others to help (such as market industry leaders or your top vendors/manufacturers). Whatever way you decide to conduct training, know that it is worth it.


Promote an atmosphere that allows employees to make their own decisions within the parameters of their job to empower employees and signal to them that you trust and believe in them to make good decisions. Employees with appropriate autonomy are happier and more satisfied with their work than ones that are micromanaged.

Acknowledge success by celebrating your team. Positive reinforcement is arguably the most powerful and effective personnel tool at your disposal. Acknowledgement can be a simple mention at the next staff meeting or a handwritten note of thanks. Fun outings, cutting a workday short, or planning group activities such as a team dinner can also resonate. Find out what rewards each employee prefers to make acknowledgments personal and truly meaningful. Acknowledgements such as these help reinforce desired behavior and make your staff feel valued and appreciated.

Clear Benefits

Your staff clearly benefits when a healthy work environment is created at your practice … and so do your patients. When staff enjoy what they do, turnover decreases and patient satisfaction quickly becomes the No.1 priority. As a result, patient recruitment, conversion, and retention all increase. And, by the way, how much more fun is coming to work for everyone on your team when they enjoy what they do and like the practice culture?

Davis Johnson is a management consultant with the Allergan Practice Consulting Group of Allergan, PLC, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Johnson consults with medical aesthetic practices in the areas of financial analysis, practice valuations, human resource issues, internal and external marketing, leadership training and team building, sales training, compensation, and aesthetic practice development.

Mr. Johnson has more than 25 years of successful sales, marketing, operational, and consulting experience. He is especially skilled at launching new businesses and implementing long-term procedures to create sales, increase productivity, and enhance profitability across diverse platforms.

Prior to joining the Allergan Practice Consulting Group, Mr. Johnson was an executive officer of a privately held internet holding company, which featured several integrated consumer-focused online businesses. Formerly, he founded a marketing consulting firm that exclusively serviced the pharma and health care industries for more than 16 years. His firm featured long-term contracts with Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi US. Prior to starting his marketing consulting business, he began his professional career with Black & Decker and Wachovia Bank.


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About Practical Dermatology

Practical Dermatology is the monthly publication that provides coverage of medical care, cosmetic advancements, and practice management for clinicians in the field. With straight-forward, how-to advice from experts in various fields, we strive to enhance quality of care and improve the daily operation of dermatology practices.