by Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC •
President & CEO Breakthrough Coaching •
Most practices have employees with different levels of potential. The key is for practice owners and managers to identify team members with the right core values, skill set, drive, and attitude to take on more responsibility. The process of promoting team members can be a sword that cuts both ways. If you promote too quickly, you may risk giving a team member responsibilities beyond their current capabilities. This can demotivate the person and could result in them resigning from their position. On the other hand, if you wait too long, talented team members may seek opportunities elsewhere. The key to keeping your team engaged and productive is to promote properly. Let’s look at some of the key signs that a team member is ready for advancement.
They Are Willing to Do More
A team member who is ready for promotion is typically willing to do more without having to be asked. They feel connected to your practice and its success. They know how important their position is to the practice’s mission. They are eager to take on new challenges. When a team member regularly finishes their work quickly, with minimum effort, and asks for more challenges, think advancement opportunity. One of the surest ways to know that someone is ready for the next level is when they are already performing at that level. When you have a team member who consistently over-delivers on every project they are involved with without being asked to do so, it’s time to put the wheels of promotion in motion.
They Have Natural Leadership Skills
Team leaders naturally emerge in a group setting. They emerge regardless of their job title or seniority. They intuitively know what it takes to influence the behaviors, attitudes, and efforts of others. When you spot employees looking to them for help – it’s a sign of a potential good manager for your practice in the future. Have a conversation with them and ask, “What have you done lately to help your fellow team members?” This is typically an unexpected question that most employees don’t prepare for. The answer can provide you with important insight into their leadership abilities. People skills are very important. You can teach most technical skills to anyone with a willingness to learn. People skills, on the other hand, come naturally.
They Have the Ability to Deal with Failure
Practice team members who are willing to take responsibility for their actions in a mature way, including when they result in failure, are prime candidates for promotion. Individuals who can accept responsibility for their mistakes, learn from them, and ensure that they are not repeated demonstrate qualities that deserve advancement. Another key leadership quality is not wasting time trying to solve problems without promptly asking for support or advice. Look for team members who ask for help in practical situations without letting their egos get in the way.
They Have the Desire to Improve
Team members who consistently strive to improve their skills proactively are the type of people who can lead your practice to success. A healthy appetite for suggesting improvements in your processes and systems is important. Someone who is just making the motions to complete the essential tasks in their job description doesn’t have the desire to improve things. Excellent employees make recommendations for improvements and work out ways to do things better than the way they are being done. Be attentive to team members who challenge senior members in a productive, nonaggressive way. When someone is confident in their abilities and knowledge, they will feel more comfortable challenging the status quo. Look for someone who goes above and beyond their duties like tidying up the break room or organizing the front desk area. That’s a great attitude!
Their Voice is Heard and Respected
Your practice needs team players who operate as part of a team and don’t focus purely on their own roles. An unmistakable sign that someone is ready to be promoted is when they have a respected voice in your organization. This voice is developed through expertise combined with execution. Confidence follows competence. When you observe fellow team members routinely asking a person for help and guidance, this individual may be ready to move up to the next level. Monitor and assess their other teammates’ feedback and interactions with them. If you don’t immediately have an appropriate position to promote them to, assign them new responsibilities to stretch them and help them grow and stay motivated.
They Get Things Done
The progression up the leadership ladder doesn’t necessarily happen linearly. Skills that are used in one role in the practice typically flow into their next role. When a team member effectively uses several skills essential for the next role in the organization, it is most likely time for a promotion to that role. When someone consistently obtains challenging goals, it’s a clear sign that they are ready to move up—or move out—of their position. A good manager has an eye on the career development of their team. Your goal should be to co-create a fulfilling role for the individual while it benefits the strategic direction of your practice.
They Seek Out Feedback
High-performing team members crave feedback—both good and bad. They are lifelong learners and want to grow and understand how they can help improve your practice. A sign of promotion potential can occur when you conduct performance reviews and notice them proactively asking for feedback. Consciously create a practice culture where your team members feel safe being open about their career aspirations. If you are not currently doing so, institute brief, quarterly performance reviews. This is a crucial step that is often missed in many practices. It allows you to discuss how they are doing and how they see how their role fits in with the direction you would like to take the practice. Skip this step, and you may be overlooking a well of untapped talent.
They Are Crisis Managers
Getting the job done and completing daily tasks is one thing. Being able to read people and situations is the attribute of a true leader. Making educated decisions and acting accordingly, backed up by gut instinct, are star qualities. Great team leaders explore the issues and don’t react based on circumstances or rumors. They are solution seekers. Even the best-run practices have moments of crisis. Patient complaints, technical issues, human resource errors, and concerns come in many forms. A weak leader will lose their head in these moments. It takes a calm leader to set them in the right direction. Look for individuals who naturally take charge to lead the team to safer waters. Team members who stay cool and calm during a crisis have excellent promotion potential.
The Promotion Opportunity
Think about the promotion process as an opportunity for your practice team to observe what it takes to be successful in your practice and what they can expect if they remain team members. Ultimately, your goal is for your employees to have long and rewarding experiences as part of your team. Remember, a happy team means a happy practice.
Dr. Mark Sanna is a member of the Chiropractic Summit and a board member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. He is the CEO of Breakthrough Coaching. (www.mybreakthrough.com 1-800-723-8423).