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Maintaining morale – the importance of celebrating individual and team successes

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GP practices are coming under increasing pressure. They're being squeezed by among other things budget constraints (costs are up, income is down), an ageing population, increasing numbers of patients and GP trainee numbers is an emerging crisis in primary care.

It's not surprising that, for many GP practices, staff morale is a big problem.

In this article, we'll look at why celebrations of success are so important to individuals and teams, and how you can celebrate success most effectively.

What are the effects of low morale in the GP practice?

When morale is low, your business costs rise. Demotivated people are more likely to seek pastures new. Every member of staff that has to be replaced adds costs to the business of a GP practice. You'll suffer extra recruitment costs and training costs. And the process of recruitment and training takes time. It takes a practice manager away from what he or she should be doing.

Bad morale is also infectious, and not in a good way. Bad attitudes, low morale, and a general malaise about work tends to spread like a virus. Productivity falls. Patients notice a change in attitudes and atmosphere. Complaints rise. This will probably affect your CQC rating: among our tips for passing the CQC inspection, we highlighted that the CQC inspectors will review those complaints. If there's evidence of low morale, the CQC could point the finger at poor leadership.

How does celebrating success affect morale?

Celebrating success is the equivalent of saying 'thank you'. There are reasons why it's often said that a 'thank you' goes a long way. When you congratulate someone for doing good work, you:

  • Increase their self-esteem
  • Give them a sense of purpose
  • Make them feel like a valued member of the team
  • Engage them in the business of the practice

How to be successful at celebrating success

There are some must-dos to celebrate success successfully. These include:

  • Let everyone know that someone has done a great job

It's best to castigate in private and celebrate in public. Use team meetings as a time to congratulate an employee for a job well done. Let others know that you appreciate the contribution that has been made to the practice.

  • Tie the celebration into results

Make sure you let the individual know how they have impacted the practice. Let people know how their actions have made a difference.

"Because of your idea, and how we've put it into action, we've been able to reduce wait times by two minutes. Great job you, and everyone who has helped to make this happen."

  • Share your goals and encourage engagement

Don't be afraid to share business goals. Encourage people to actively seek ways to help achieve those goals. Break them down into short-term milestones, and celebrate reaching every milestone. Order a pizza, or cakes and coffee. Let everyone know that it's been a team effort, and then start planning how to move to the next milestone.

  • Make it personal

When an individual does great work, consider a real reward – and make it personal. This shows the individual that you really know them, and what they appreciate by way of a thank you. It doesn't have to be expensive. Buy them lunch. Give them a book you know they want to read, or an afternoon off so they can go watch their daughter in her first school production.

There are plenty of rewards you can give. Personalising a reward to the recipient makes it extra special.

It's hard to keep morale high when there is so much conspiring against you. But it's not impossible. Celebrating successes is a morale-boosting strategy that works for both teams and individuals.