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Man and woman talking at work

Reading time  4:10

Sometimes we forget how important positive feedback can be to our staff. We assume that they know how much we appreciate what they do and how much they contribute to our practices.  But the fact is, it’s important to share what we are thinking with our co-workers and not just keep it to ourselves.  I had this confirmed after a conversation with my nail tech, Nancy.

Nancy shared with me how pleased she was recently when she received some compliments from the owner of her salon. To make it even better, it happened at a staff meeting.

These two small compliments had a major impact on Nancy’s self- esteem.  This feedback meant so much to her.   She said that in fifteen years of working as a nail tech (and being very good at her job), it was the first time a boss or owner had ever complimented her.  How sad is that?  But, it also started me thinking of how I interact with the people I work with.  I have always tried to be good about giving feedback.  However, there is always room for improvement for everyone.


Getting positive feedback helps everyone.  Who doesn’t appreciate having their contributions noticed and valued?  Aside from our basic needs, we all want to know we have worth. We want our efforts to make a difference.   Think about how you felt the last time you got an unexpected compliment.  I’m certain it lifted your spirits and made your day a little better.

So how do we find the behaviors and actions that are deserving of praise?  First of all, quit looking for only the faults or negatives.  It’s really as simple as that.  Start looking for the positive. It just requires a change in attitude and a fresh perspective. You will find that there are many more positives.  And the natural consequence of noticing what is good, will be an increase in that type of behavior.   There is a quote by John E. Jones III that says it better.  “…What gets rewarded, gets repeated.”


The problem in a busy office is often the timing.  It’s difficult to find a moment when the employee and doctor are both free at the same time. But, waiting to give the compliment often means it gets forgotten and is never given.  

I have made a habit of writing down the relevant information (person, date, situation, etc.) so I don’t forget.  Then, I made it a priority to share this information with the person involved.  The sharing can be done daily, weekly or monthly. Find what works best for you.  But, don’t abandon it just because it may not be convenient to share the feedback at the moment the event happens. 

I love sharing unsolicited compliments from patients with the staff person involved. And there are so many other things that you can notice and comment on as well.  If you train yourself to look, you will see your staff do many wonderful things for you on a daily basis.  Some of these things include: handling irate or difficult patients, anticipating problems and intervening before they occur, helping a co-worker and just pitching in to help the office run well.  

It does require an effort to train yourself to make these observations, but it is so worth it. It helps the person involved, but it also makes you feel better when you share the compliment with them.  To know that you have helped someone, or made them feel better is a wonderful feeling.  And don’t downplay the difference it makes in the culture of the office as a whole.   When your staff knows that you see them and that you notice what they’re doing, they give you even more to see.


I also like to save a copy of these shared positive comments. Reviews are often skewed toward problems and deficits.  Looking at the compliments and all the times he/she has gone above and beyond the expected helps you to give a more balanced annual review.   Why not share all the good things and acknowledge the progress they’ve made along with the areas they need to work on?

One office I worked in had another great idea for sharing positive thoughts.  They had the entire staff participate by writing down any positive thing they saw a co-worker do.  It could be anything from how they worked with a patient, a good idea they shared, just being kind or going above and beyond what’s required.  The comments were placed in a basket and shared out loud at the next staff meeting.  It taught the staff to look for the good in their co-workers and created a more positive environment for the whole office.  A secondary benefit was that it encouraged this type of behavior in all other staff members.  Acknowledging good performance really does work.

I have also seen the use of a bulletin board located in a staff area for sharing positive feedback.  Employees are encouraged to post a note with a compliment for a co-worker on the board for everyone to see.  Either way achieves the same result. Teamwork and positive feedback become an important part of the culture of your office.

I suggest that you could take this system of praise a step further.  For every positive comment, points could be earned.  When they reach a certain number of points, the employee could pick from a list what type of reward they want.  It could be a financial bonus or time off.  They could earn an hour at a time and build it up or use it for an early end to the day, a longer lunch, or a late start to their day.  Of course, this would need to be arranged just as they do vacation time. Or the reward could be a gift certificate, flowers, a special lunch or anything else you can think of. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant.  The possibilities are endless. Ask your staff what rewards they would like. Giving your employees choices allows them to pick what is the most meaningful reward for them. 


We all know that there are times when negative criticism is needed. But, if you have negative criticism, deal with it privately.  Negative comments are often best handled when you have taken time to think about what you will say rather than in the heat of the moment. Words can hurt and are not forgotten.

Constant negativity creates a toxic environment that can infect everyone. It generates job insecurity and defeat. We will deal with the effects of negativity in a future blog.  


Some would argue that there is no reason to reward someone for doing their job.  To those I would point out that there are a lot of ways to get a job done.  It can just meet the minimum standards or it can be done with extra enthusiasm, efforts and ingenuity.  Allow and encourage your staff, and yourself, to excel and be the best you can be.

Being grateful for a good and committed staff and then showing your appreciation frequently helps a practice grow.  It builds trust and connections with your staff.  As a result of that, it also evolves into a natural connection with your patients.  There is no down side that I can see to being appreciative, positive and kind. 

How do you promote excellence in your staff?  How do you show your appreciation on a daily basis?  Share what has worked in your office in the comments below.

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