Reflection Paper Joining a start-up small business was a rare and unique opportunity. A local oral surgeon, bright, brilliant and heralding degrees in both dentistry and medicine (DAM/MD) decided to open a beautiful, state-of-the-art practice in the heart of Orange County. While laid off in the midst of the recession, Sandra Adams approached me to Join her small team as the treatment and financial coordinator of her practice. After much consideration, the benefits of joining a company at its inception and learning about start-up business practices outweighed the costs of a low market salary.
To much dismay, though the owner was a brilliant dentist and surgeon, she was not well equipped to manage employees, a critical component of running a successful business. Norris, Greenberg and Lee explain in their article, Employee Motivation A Powerful New Model, the four drives that underlie employee motivation: the drives to acquire, bond, comprehend and defend and further contend that a business can best improve overall motivation by satisfying all four drives in concert. Employee motivation suffered as Dry.
Adams was not able to manage the rives to acquire, bond and comprehend through mismanagement of the firm’s reward system, culture, and Job design. As highlighted by Pearce In her book. B: Real Research for Real Managers. Feelings of internal inequity developed, damaging collaboration, when Dry. Adams implemented a reward system benefiting all three employees while responsibility to achieve such Incentive was placed on only one person. Within a few months of opening, the owner implemented a reward system based on total account collections (revenue) within a single month.
For collections over $70,000, all three employees ere given a $500 bonus added to their usual pay. Herbage’s article, One More Time How Do You Motivate Employees, argues that people will only perform as long as it takes to get the next raise or promotion. In this case, when the bountiful months of collection (associated with the summer season) had passed, the extrinsic motivation to achieve high collection volumes required for monetary reward ceased and the revenue stream suffered.
Subsequently, the other two employees had no extrinsic motivation from this Incentive as they had no part In achieving It and therefore. Did to provide additional contributions to improve the collections process. As highlighted by Norris et al, an action associated with the drive to acquire Is to tie rewards clearly to performance. If the practice owner wanted to Increase business revenue through the means of accounts collections, she should have provided that incentive to the employee(s) directly responsible for achieving that outcome – tying that reward clearly to the expected performance.
If the owner’s desire was providing rewards to all employees, she should have broken the collections process into three hashes of responsibility, assigning one phase to each employee. These phases could have been: generation and delivery of statements/illnesses, application of payments to accounts and follow-up on delinquent payments. This would have provided extrinsic motivation to each employee equitably. Additionally, it would create a Across-the-Board Incentives Work. During off-peak collection seasons, the mutual monitoring could improve revenue collected.
Though the owner striver to develop a warm and familial culture amongst her and the practice’s three employees, the growth of her self-interest quickly turned the cuisines into a loss of morale as feelings of betrayal emerged. Excusing employees on slow days to cut down on payroll became common practice. Additionally, on more than one occasion, Dry. Adams (illegally) altered employees time sheets to avoid paying over-time. Though she often complained about poor revenue, Dry. Adams acquired several expensive pieces of art to furnish the office.
Contradictory actions turned the collaborative environment into a culture where employees felt the need to look after their own interests. Motivation and performance took a nose-dive resulting from the culture of low morale. Observing the trends in revenue over weeks or even months provide a great starting point at which to project labor allocation. Dry. Adams should have provided transparency regarding the financial state of the business, using the decline in revenue and business growth as evidence.
Norris et al indicates adding value toward collaboration and teamwork as an action toward improving the drive to comprehend. To improve collaboration and teamwork, Sandra should have sat down with her team to determine their greatest concerns. For example, a concern regarding inconsistency of take-home pay could be negotiated by discontinuing ringer benefits in order to account for the difference. Additionally, Dry. Adams would do well to avoid any purchases that do not contribute to the necessary function of the business.
The owner may not be able to meet the exact desires of her employees, but showing genuine concern for her team can maintain a positive culture even in times of financial hardship The drive to comprehend was unfulfilled due to the poor Job design and lack of a solid Job description for the three positions in the practice. My position as treatment and financial coordinator, in theory, was to provide the treatment plans (dental work deeding to be done) to patients and provide an estimate of costs for their suggested service, processing of insurance coverage and billing patients.
However, my position quickly became responsible for all “front office” work – all administrative tasks associated with the business. Although we were never provided an official Job description, the practice owner would often say, “It’s in your Job description,” as reason for why employees should assume additional tasks regardless of lack of experience, guidance or training. Toward the end of my time with the company, I had no intrinsic motivation to tackle every day mundane tasks. Apathy spilled over affecting the team’s dynamic and quality of support to the business’s customers.
Norris et al argue that in order to fulfill the drive to comprehend, a firm should design Jobs that have distinct roles in the organization. Dry. Adams should have provided each of her three employees with very specific Job descriptions while explaining that over time, they may change as additional needs of the business were identified. Within the first year of business, she should have sat down with each individual employee on a monthly basis to discuss any additional responsibilities she r the employee identified was added to their usual responsibilities.
Discussion of business would have assisted the employees with integrating them into their current work load. Just as Cirque du Solely (as explained by Norris et al) performers have a say in how performances are staged, Dry. Adams should provide her employees with a say in how they will manage new responsibilities. Additionally, support should be offered in the form of training or guidance. Preventing feelings of frustration and senselessness will reduce the damage to Job satisfaction and consequently, intrinsic titivation.
During my time with a small business I realized how important employee motivation is to the success of a firm and how damaging poor management of the four fundamental emotional drives is to a business. Dry. Adams’ lack of knowledge in the management of her employees drives to acquire, bond and comprehend through poorly develop rewards programs, culture and Job design resulted in poor employee motivation, morale and high turnover. Implementing the recommendations would serve the business well in producing the highest level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation possible.