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Are you looking for ideas on how to build your culture and retain your employees? I recently had the opportunity to interview a plastic surgery/med spa practice that is flourishing in these areas. This practice has more than 20 employees with multiple providers producing in the 90th percentile of the APC Financial Benchmark Database in service revenue per FTE. In a time of high employee turnover, this practice is hiring for growth, not backfills.

How is this practice doing it? With an extreme focus on leadership, and management was kind enough to share some leadership pearls they follow. Ahead, are five things the leadership team recommends for success.

Pearl 1: Put the Right People in Key Seats

Those who build great practices make sure they have the right people on the bus, and the right people in key seats before they drive the bus. This practice has done a tremendous job of this, with leadership’s efforts starting at the hiring process. First, they offer an incentive-laden employee referral program that increases once the referral hits the one-year mark.

“Great people know great people,” the administrator director said, explaining the reasoning behind this recruitment strategy.

Second, they follow a very thorough four-step interview process that includes an onsite “culture fit” step.

“I recently interviewed a talented surgical technician. (The tech was) great in the OR but did not treat my staff well during the culture fit interview,” the physician owner said. “I did not hire (the candidate), and I am in dire need of a surgical tech still.” Leadership did not want to put practice culture at risk by hiring someone who was not a fit with the culture.

Lastly, to ensure they have the right people in the key seats upon hiring, the practice created a “Leadership Team” within the practice. One of the many tasks of the Leadership Team is to conduct a talent assessment of their people. In these meetings, they discuss who their A, B, and C players are in the practice. This allows them to identify rising stars within the organization and to provide coaching opportunities for others in order to strengthen the entire team.

Pearl 2: Adhere to Non-negotiable Behaviors

Core values are a small number of non-negotiable behaviors that drive your culture. Does your practice have core values? If so, does your staff know what they are, or are they just words on your website?

For this practice, its core values are more than just words. It truly lives and breathes them. In fact, the last step in the interview process is asking questions related to practice core values. If a candidate is not already following those core values, leadership will not hire the candidate. “It’s a nonnegotiable,” the owner said.

Furthermore, the practice has recently implemented an online platform where staff members can recognize each other for living the core values. This encourages the team to embrace and embody them every single day.

Pearl 3: Share the Company Vision

“To me, leadership is having a clear vision and not being afraid to share that vision with the practice,” the owner said.

With that in mind, leadership is purposeful in sharing the company’s vision and financial goals with the team. They have yearly goals for the practice, but they also break down goals quarterly, monthly, and weekly.

“I made a conscious decision years ago to be transparent with my staff around our financial goals,” the owner said. Leadership accomplishes this by following a disciplined meeting rhythm. This includes an annual goal setting meeting with the Leadership Team, along with weekly and monthly meetings with the entire staff.

Staff meetings are collaborative. Leadership shares financial goals and asks for feedback on how to collectively achieve them.

“Communication is the foundation of our staff meetings,” the chief financial officer (CFO) said. “We have multiple groups within the practice, and it’s important for everyone to know their roles and responsibilities for us to grow.”

Pearl 4: Listen with Intent

There have been many studies around the “Great Resignation,” and one of the common reasons for employees leaving their jobs is because they do not feel valued. Long before this movement, practice leadership made it a priority to check the pulse of their employees.

They hold employee reviews twice a year with a focus on career development, and they also meet everyone individually every quarter.

“There is no feedback given in those (quarterly) meetings,” the practice administrator said. “Those meetings are all about them.”

The CFO added, “We ask them how they are feeling, and what they need from us. (Throughout the year) we listen twice as much as we give feedback.” This enables practice leadership to understand where each employee stands in terms of satisfaction.

Pearl 5: Have Fun

When the practice exceeds goals, the team celebrates as a group. Leadership will often close the practice early on a Friday to have a fun team building event away from the office. Is the practice losing revenue by closing early? Yes, but leadership sees the long-term benefits of the celebrations.

“It’s very important that the team has some fun away from the office,” the owner said. “It’s also a fantastic way for the team to bond on a personal level.”

Practice leadership recognizes that having fun boosts morale. They also view their people as an asset and an intricate part of practice growth who therefore need to be cared for.

Leadership is Not Easy

While the practice is now enjoying the fruits of its labor (low turnover and high growth), leadership acknowledged it was not always easy. Throughout the years, they had to invest a great deal of time into leadership.

“It’s hard,” the CFO said toward the end of the interview. “It has been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it’s been worth it.”

Leadership noted that one of the keys to their success is that they focus on being flexible. Today, in our ever-evolving market, there is perhaps no greater ability. General Eric Shinseki, former chief of staff for the US Army, once said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

This practice has proven its relevance. With its expanding team, this practice has outgrown its current space and is looking to open a second location. Leadership is embracing this change—and the future that comes with it.

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