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Mark Hinton

How To Build a T.E.A.M. Culture

Developing a culture of intimacy among team members is no small task, but it is essential to operating a highly effective, and frankly, enjoyable day-to-day business.

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A FEW YEARS AGO, I asked my partner, “Why is it when we interview for an available position, we expect that once hired, people will actually perform the way they said they would when most of them fall short?” They seemed to demonstrate their ability to fill the need, but we still often made the wrong choice … and we also did not nurture and appreciate them.

We decided to figure out what drove the individuals on our team and how we could drive them in a more collaborative and helpful fashion to develop a “culture of intimacy.” A few troublemakers left almost immediately because they were no longer able to manipulate others on the team, but those who remained helped us define our current culture and how to vet potential new members. I’d like to share the tools and approaches that work for us.

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T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More. As we began to uncover the mystery of hiring and engaging team members, we began to understand the value of weekly business development meetings with team member participation. Not talking AT the team, but including them. We call on every team member during our meetings to contribute. We don’t focus on why something won’t work, but on how we can make it work.

Emotional Intelligence by Dan Goleman taught us that what distinguishes star performers from the mediocre is emotional intelligence. We foster it, requesting team members list bullet-point takeaways from each meeting and share how they intend to use them during patient interaction throughout the week. At the next meeting, they are eager to share their successes. Again, inclusion!

Other ECPs recommended Radical Candor by Kim Scott to leaders in our organization. The book provides a great pathway for individuals to overcome typical “misunderstandings” and to reduce the risk of ongoing blame, victimization, and team-killing gossip. We developed it into a one-day retreat and facilitated practice scenarios. Radical Candor has been nothing short of fantastic.

We also started running our office using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) developed by Gino Wickman in his best-selling book Traction. We discovered three essential needs of a team member:

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  1. Do they get it?
  2. Do they want it?
  3. Do they have the capacity?

These are the criteria we now use when considering a new member for our business culture.

In interviews, we always ask: “Tell me about a time a co-worker really ticked you off to the point of blood boiling and how you were able to undermine them?” We get some remarkable answers.

We also take a close look at the candidates’ social media to gain insight into their personality. Will they be an excellent fit? Or will they spell disaster? Culture is about a sense of wellbeing and safety for all.

When we feel we may have a candidate, we invite them in to shadow and have lunch with a few of their potential colleagues. These colleagues ask specific questions to gain a sense for whether they’ll fit in. These “voting members” understand the value of choosing wisely.

We do not call anyone an employee or staff; these terms exclude instead of include. We are working to sustain an inclusive culture of “team members and colleagues.” And we always use the word “career” not “job.” People feel more empowered within their career than a task-driven job.

We explain to potential candidates that we do not want any team member to come to work. Work is an ugly four letter word. We explain that when we label what we do for compensation “work” we tend to be more complacent than if we consider it “contributing and participating” in an exceptional experience for every patient. We also make it quite plain, to the point of signing a document on day one, that staff members clearly understand our no-tolerance attitude regarding bad or unkind behavior to other team members.

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Developing a culture of intimacy among team members is no small task, but it is essential to operating a highly effective, and frankly, enjoyable day-to-day business.

Mark Hinton is a practice owner, as well as CEO and president of eYeFacilitate, a private practice consultancy. A sought-after ABO/COPE approved practice management expert, with eYeFacilitate he helps practices drive optical efficiencies, maximize managed care revenue and profit, improve capture, and increase revenue through simple systems with a focused process. Email him at [email protected]

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