Employee Betrayal and the Employee Policy Handbook
Office Manager Training Case File 4155OM
“Dr. Kee” (names have been changed) had been practicing dentistry for seven years. She felt that she knew enough to get her through those beginning years – she never had any real difficulties with the business until some of her staff began demanding pay increases that she could not afford.
It started when her two senior dental hygienists invited her to join them for lunch to discuss their ideas for practice improvement. One had been with her for three years, the other for four years, and she trusted them. Lunch turned out to be a request for raises from both of them. Immediately she felt “ganged up on” and betrayed. “What could I do, I felt taken advantage of and gave in to their requests.”
Dr. Kee reached out to McKenzie Management because she no longer felt in control of her practice. It turned out that Dr. Kee had a verbal agreement for salary and benefits with each of her employees, but the problem was that each was different. One hygienist had a paid three week vacation every year, and the other (who had the same hours) was given one week paid each year.
Dr. Kee sent her Office Manager “Bea” for the two-day Office Manager Training, and at my request the doctor came too. Dr. Kee felt that her office manager would be the one to take control of the staff and dictate any new ideas. Under the circumstances, the two of them needed to create a united stance or the staff would bypass Bea and go directly to Dr. Kee.
Bea had many years’ experience as a dental office manager and ran a tight ship when it came to collections and making sure the schedule was productive. However, she felt that the lack of employee policies was causing turmoil. None of the staff had written job descriptions or titles that indicated accountability except for Bea. Bea was frustrated because when she asked for help, no one stepped up to help but would say “I wasn’t hired to do that.”
During the training session we created job descriptions and areas of accountability for each staff member. Accountability means there are areas within the job description that the employee has to accomplish to produce positive results. An example would be contacting unscheduled patients in recall and from the unscheduled treatment list, making a minimum of five outbound calls a day to these patients, and recording the results on a monitor, noting whether an appointment was made or why it wasn’t.
We also drew up a plan for the initial start of an Employee Policy Handbook which would specifically state what vacation time and holidays would be observed for all full-time employees. There would be no separate verbal agreements for vacation time. We went over the issues of Performance Reviews and Salary Reviews to understand the difference. Raises would no longer be automatic, but were based upon the employee’s performance and dedication, as well as practice profitability.
Dr. Kee asked for a source that would help her complete the handbook, making it legal per her state laws. McKenzie Management recommends http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/ss-manual.php. Bea said that she would support Dr. Kee in getting it accomplished as soon as possible.
As we went through the training material, Bea and Dr. Kee began to realize how little they knew about managing a dental practice. Dr. Kee had never looked at the overhead numbers and realized that her practice operation percentages were not healthy. She was worried about how the staff would react to the changes that were to be made. We concurred that their current salaries were more than adequate, but unless the practice improved with some growth there wouldn’t be salary increases for a while.
Since completing the training course, Dr. Kee has seen improved accountability and production in the office. Need help with your practice? Call McKenzie Management today for customized training and consulting programs.Forward this article to a friend
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