One of the first lessons I was ever taught when taking over the family business was to stay humble. Because of that, I can admit I’ve made many mistakes in running a hearing clinic. What makes me proud is that I can honestly say I’ve worked hard to learn from each one and grow because of it.
Learn From Your Mistakes
My biggest mistake I’ve made is how I treated my staff. At first, I thought I had to micromanage everyone and be very focused on goals and performance. What I didn’t notice was all the extra stress this was putting on my team, which then caused performance and morale to go down. I then would follow this by hiring people who had to have specific sales talents and I would ignore other traits that pointed to non-team players or a lack of compassion when dealing with our patients.
Finally, a lack of team communication was becoming a big issue. I am known as someone who emails a lot, and it was becoming overwhelming to the staff.
All the above points to a downward spiral of low morale, low sales, and a lack of positivity. It took one of my own staff to point this out to me, followed by a meeting with a respected peer, to realize what I was doing wrong.
With some research and many discussions internally and with colleagues, I decided to stop the turnover and work on how to create a better environment for the team.
Time To Change
The first step was to change the culture from one of high-pressure sales to a family dynamic. It was hypocritical of us to preach a family-owned business to our patients but not to our staff. I made performance goals and tracking transparent so the staff could do it themselves.
This way, they didn’t need me reminding them or looking over their shoulder all the time. If they were having a bad month, I would let them come to me and work on improvements, rather than consistently pointing it out to them.
Open communication is a staple of my leadership – telling the staff they can talk to me anytime about anything, so they feel heard and respected. This helped me do away with annual performance reviews. I always found that annual reviews were a fight between asking for a raise versus giving a raise. Why do that when you can have a casual open conversation?
I also created a social messenger group so that we could have fun conversations with the whole team about anything. I reinvested in the team with new equipment, incentive plans, and staff outings to foster a more positive dynamic. Involving team members in company policies created an ownership of their work and where they worked.
Finally, the biggest step was to no longer hire based on one or two specific traits. Instead, I looked for people who would fit in with both our team dynamic and with our clientele. Most skills in our industry can be trained but personality cannot. Having a team that enjoys coming to work and who they work with makes a huge difference and can completely change your business.
Statistically, I can show anyone when the culture change took place and how it changed our business. Sales and morale went up, and I now have a team that respect and support each other. It will cost you less money and time to change how you treat your staff, rather than hiring new over and over.
President & Owner
Arnold Hearing Centres