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KPIs, Motivation and Staff Retention - where does it all fit?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

In the community sector there is now widespread use of billable targets in the delivery of allied health services. This has been a rocky road of transition for many service providers, and we now see companies advertising their job roles with the promise of “no minimum billables”, “low billables” or “realistic billables”. Pressure to meet billables is a thing, the topic on everyone’s lips. So what are our choices here? How can we ensure consistent levels of productivity by our teams as well as developing our people, rewarding them and retaining them for the long term?


Coach, coach, mentor, and coach some more.


Leaders who coach have an enquiring mind. They want to understand what motivates the person sitting in front of them, in their professional role. Questions they ask sound like –


“What are the ways in which you see what you do in your role as being appreciated or recognised? How can we improve on this?”

“What kind of work do you find most exciting?”

“What kinds of challenges are most interesting to you?”

“What could we do to make the work more meaningful for you? …. And what else?”

When they are sure they understand, leaders shift into mentor mode – they craft a vision for that person and run it by them – “I was thinking this would be a wonderful path for you, does this sound great?” “Would you like this to be your future here?” Then they return to coach mode – “What will you do to make this happen, with me, for you?”


THESE are the conversations that employees want to have with their manager – everyone likes to be cared about, and valued. We know that the quality of the relationship between the employee and their manager is the strongest factor in employee retention.


The leader’s job is not to motivate the employee as such, but to remove the obstacles to their professional success. For people who most strongly value the relationships they enjoy in their immediate team, or those who love being able to have influence in their role, it is simply barking up the wrong tree to be highlighting a numerical target to them and expect it to be motivating – it simply will not work. In fact, for many people, this will likely be de-motivating and could threaten their sense of job security, especially when heard from their immediate manager and linked to their employment.


In the community sector, we have to live our values of a good life for everyone, including those we lead. We must take the time to get to know and work for, each and every one of our talented people. As leaders, we must find ways to deliver clinical work that is exciting, challenging and offers opportunities for innovation to our team members; and it to be structured and administratively supported in a way that it is practically impossible for the service to then not generate a surplus. This is our challenge. Embracing the fullness of this challenge, and being open to the many and varied ways of meeting it, is required. We will need our own coaches and mentors to help us access our wisdom and resources towards achieving it.


If an organisation has a significant problem with productivity, then its senior leaders must ENQUIRE with their frontline staff about what the obstacles to this, are. They must look first at all the system factors, and consider it the work of the whole organisation to enable the time of allied health professionals to be directly placed in their “zone of genius”. When clever ways are found to work smarter, in direct service delivery teams or elsewhere, leaders share great practices and make it the new way things are done. Above all, leaders reward staff in line with their individual motivating factors. This shows team members that they have heard what makes a good life for that person, and clearly articulates how they can have a great one, in their organisation.


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