Singing off-key and other things you can do for your team

Practice owner Jenn Galvin shares how she shows her team appreciation—from Employee Bingo to love language quizzes, and maybe some impromptu karaoke.

By Jenn Galvin

In my last article, I talked about putting yourself first. When you aren’t in a good place, you can’t take care of others properly. So, if you still aren’t doing things to improve your wellbeing, please start there.  

As a leader in my hospital, I know my attitude affects my team. When I walk in the back door, they look to me to gauge how their day will go. They sure won’t benefit from a stressed look on my face as I silently hurry by them to get to my office. Instead, I make it a point to say good morning to them, smile, and let them know I care in some small way. Leading by example and from a place of positivity is a priority.  

As a side note: Being a leader can make it feel like you have to constantly have your brave face on. In all actuality, being vulnerable with your employees can build stronger and more trusting relationships. If you are struggling, it’s okay to share your story, admit your mistakes, or ask for help.  

Building others up has always filled my cup. Getting my team members to laugh, making them feel appreciated, and getting them to bond with one another are all parts of my job I take seriously and really enjoy. If you feel like your team is struggling, or you simply want to add more joy to their day, there are many things you can do to lift them up.  

I highly recommend getting to know your team member’s ranking of the “five languages of appreciation” (also known as their love language). This can help your efforts make a more substantial impact on them. While someone who loves words of affirmation might sincerely appreciate the thank-you card telling them that the extra time they spent with Mrs. Smith was genuinely impressive, the person that prefers quality time might get much more out of sharing a cup of coffee with you and catching up. (You can find more information on this by reading The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul White.) 

Ways to show team members they are appreciated  

  • Show respect and empathy 
  • Get to know each member of the team. I like having employees fill out a “My Favorites” survey that tells me their favorite colors, drinks, snacks, hobbies, etc.  
  • Say, write, or give a specific thank you; the more specific you are, the better. 
  • Dance. (I can bust out terrible ‘90s dance moves to pretty much anything)! 
  • Sing. Even if it’s off-key—even if it’s Vanilla Ice.  
  • Make a positivity jar/board/box/flipbook. 
  • Check in with your teammates. I have frequent one-on-ones to make sure things are going well and employees are feeling good about the direction they are going in. 
  • Feed them! 
  • Complete group goals—with a big prize at the end. (Tip: Ask your vendors for help with this; often they can help design a contest and provide the prize.) 
  • Leave work on time and encourage others to do the same.  
  • Celebrate wins and show pride. I love sharing client thank-you cards, good reviews, and surveys with my team.  
  • Have fun. Don’t be afraid to bring out your dorky side and use humor to laugh together. I write a new “dad joke” on our whiteboard every morning. I make up songs. I dress up in costumes. I am not afraid of embarrassing myself.  

Build your team 

My favorite thing to do with my team is to gently force them to get to know one another and bond through teambuilding. Close the practice and pay people to be there if it’s during regular hours. I promise the increases in engagement, performance, productivity, and psychological safety are worth the hour of lost revenue! Here are some of the things I’ve done that work well: 

  • Employee Bingo. Have employees submit facts about themselves to you that other employees probably don’t know and make bingo cards using the facts to fill in the squares. Put everyone in a room and have them cross off the facts when they find the person it belongs to. The winner gets a prize.  
  • Ask for feedback, listen, and then take it. Do you have a pain point in your practice? Of course, you do! Pick one, set some ground rules, and ask the team to help you solve it. Maybe you’d like their thoughts on how to make clients feel more appreciated.  
  • Leave. Take a staff trip, go to lunch, participate in an escape room, or have a coffee break in the sunshine. Get out of the practice once in a while. (I recommend at least doing this quarterly.) 
  • Celebrate one another. Did the team reach a goal? Is it someone’s employment anniversary? Did the crew pull off a fantastic open house?  
  • Have the team take a love language quiz and share their results. Even better if you display the results for reference.   

By being a good role model and showing your team that they are valued and appreciated, you can build a stronger, more positive work environment and foster a happier, more productive team. Now go forth and sing off-key! 


Photo credit: © AlexSecret E+ via Getty Images Plus    

Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors. 



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