During my more than thirty-five years in the business industry, I have learned, through experience and benchmarking best practice companies, what it takes to run not only a business, but a successful one.   What follows is the seventh article in a series of twelve that will position any business for success.

In my last column I discussed the importance of playing as a team and putting the goals of the team before your personal ego.  While you don’t want one employee to excel at the expense of others, any successful company needs to applaud players who excel the honest and fair way, without taking shortcuts.  Of course, teamwork, and accountability go hand in hand. In every best company I have seen, every employee is responsible for his or her own actions and backed by a strong manager or coach.

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Employees thrive best from positive reinforcement and every employee likes to receive feedback in different ways.  Some employees will appreciate a simple “thank you” or other recognition of their great work, while others might prefer a monetary reward.  At Northeast Delta Dental, we expect all of our employees to follow our core values: integrity; open communication; teamwork; and quality. Supervisors regularly evaluate if employees are adhering to our value system.

Any company that practices open communication and continuous feedback will have transparency between management and employees regarding performance.  There will never be a surprise during a performance review and employees will know if they are not meeting the company’s (or their own) expectations well before then. A formal performance review is simply a codification of what the manager and the employee already know.

At Northeast Delta Dental, all employees keeps a “Me File” where they can keep track of their internal and external customer service accomplishments through collecting this anecdotal feedback from dentists, customers and their colleagues.  We don’t see this as bragging, which I talked about earlier in this series, but as a simple way to congratulate ourselves on following customer service best practices.

When employees are accountable for and succeed in their performance, it’s important to recognize and/or applaud this excellence.  There are many ways to show this appreciation and this is a significant component of creating a positive culture.

I have found that if you notice your employees and take the time to get to know them, they are happier at work because they understand that you see them as people and not just as names.  For example, when employees celebrate birthdays or key anniversaries, hand-written cards from their managers or President/CEO, can mean a lot to those employees.  Our management team regularly distributes cards to employees who might be experiencing difficult (loss of a family member) or exciting times in their lives (marriage, a new baby).  Employees know that we are thinking about them, and because we have several seasoned employees at Northeast Delta Dental, we really are a family.

In closing, every employee who excels should be applauded and rewarded for this success.  We train our managers to be like coaches and mentors and they want their employees to shine.  Your management team should pay attention and make opportunities available for employees to develop new skills and to  move-up the corporate ladder.  Everyone likes to be noticed, especially if they are among your “Most Valuable Players.”