Our world throughout this pandemic has changed beyond all recognition and we now face a new normal. Life during and after Covid 19 is and will be very different. People have adjusted and changed how they work and have faced many challenges along the way. ‘These are unprecedented times’ is a phrase we are more than familiar with as we navigate our way through this ever-changing landscape that is to become our new way of living and working. It goes without saying that our NHS and frontline workers have been pivotal in keeping us, the public, safe. So how do we look after them? 
General practice has quickly changed and identified safe ways to work but, of course, this hasn’t been easy and we are all having to adapt. However, one thing that remains the same is the importance of looking after your staff and ensuring that they know they are appreciated and valued. 
Pre pandemic, when we were running our Frontline programme with GP receptionists who were struggling with change and the demands of the job, we would often start with asking them ‘Are you just a receptionist?’ And ‘How do you think you are perceived?’ The post-it note responses came in thick and fast. It was clear that most of the receptionists we met didn’t have a very high opinion of themselves. 
The word ‘Dragon’ seemed to appear an awful lot in terms of how they thought people saw them. Furthermore, after dissecting what their job roles actually entailed, you could visibly see the fog starting to gradually disappear as they all started to realise that they weren’t JUST a receptionist’ but the very HEART of the surgery. 
So, how do you as Practice Managers, as busy as you are, further build on this? 
Keeping your staff happy and feeling valued 
We’re in this together! And indeed, we are, so how do we make sure that we continue to support, motivate, and encourage our staff at this time of uncertainty, a time that feeling valued is worth its weight in gold in reassuring colleagues that their efforts are recognised whole heartedly? Let’s face it, when you’ve had a bad day, the very thing that could make a difference is that conversation over coffee that lets your team know that their contributions are more than appreciated. 
Power of praise 
It’s not rocket science to understand that praise goes a long way and, of course, we all need to know that we are doing the right thing or working in the right way. We’re only human after all. It’s what we say, how we say it and when it is said that adds the real value. Timely, specific and with examples works wonders! 
Magic moments 
When was the last time you received praise? How did it make you feel? How long did that sense of recognition and value stay with you even though 95% of the rest of the week was tough? Praise goes a long way – when you deliver praise, you encourage someone, you motivate someone and maybe even make their day… a magic moment makes all the difference! 
How can we do this? 
Create a positive environment 
Our place of work is somewhere we spend a lot of our time and now that place could even be our own sitting room. So regular contact, incentives, positive feedback and even the odd amusing emailed anecdote will contribute in creating that great working environment. 
Clear communication and priorities 
Sharing what is happening and being clear, open and honest with your staff is key and helps them feel involved and part of the team. It always enables them to deal with change far more easily, rather than having that surprise announcement or unexpected change dropped on them last minute. Remember: keep talking and sharing. Let them see the intended journey you are taking them on. 
Give them the tools to succeed and get them involved 
Give your staff, where possible, regular opportunities to develop in their role and within the team. Plan in 5 minutes at the end of your team catch-ups to ask about any ideas they have to improve the practice. What have they noticed that isn’t working as well as it could be? What could be even better? 
Give them responsibility 
Give your team members extra responsibilities. It’s surprising how empowering this can be. You can really encourage ownership and motivate your staff by giving them extra responsibility. It says, ‘I trust you and know you will do a great job!’ 
Let them know that they are valued 
Give them regular feedback. Be specific on what, show them that you noticed and make sure that you give them feedback straightway, not a week later; it’s less impactful and suggests it’s an afterthought. For example: 
“Debbie – The way in which you dealt with the emergency yesterday was really good. You remained calm, supported the patient and made some great decisions to help the Doctor – your actions were much appreciated!” 
When we talk to receptionists, the most important thing they talk about is feeling valued. Making time for this as a manager now, will save you time in the future – and good ness knows, you need it! 
If you want to further support your reception teams, our Frontline+ communication and patient handling course has been delivered to over 2000 receptionists and focusses on all of the above to add value and confidence to receptionists. We support them with tools that enable them to do their job even better and more consistently. 
We offer an online version, a virtual workshop and face to face courses. All courses include a Heart of the Surgery session, best practice language guide, downloadable posters, eLearning and a certificate (+ Team manager support pack) 
Contact us on: hello@thedevelopmentpeople.co.uk or call us on 07800 842322 
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