Are You a Team Player?
F/O Training Case #FO458
During the many years I have worked with dental practices and dentist CEOs, there has been a strong emphasis on the need for “teamwork” to make practices successful. Working together as a team is critical to the overall health of any practice, and should create a professional environment that can be fun – which in turn results in exceptional patient care.
I often hear dental employees described as “a team player” or “not a team player.” I have seen it on performance reviews as a box to check, indicating whether the worker is a team player or not.
What exactly is a “team player” in a typical dental practice? Is “not a team player” a catch phrase to describe a person who performs below the expectation of their job? Or is “not a team player” an employee who is not popular with the rest of the team?
“Dr. Strikeover” (names have been changed) decided to send his business team of four to McKenzie Management for front office training. “I want ideas for strengthening teamwork, such as setting goals in a team meeting and then making the goals happen without a lot of blaming.”
Upon questioning Dr. Strikeover, I learned that the team did not have written job descriptions, and no one was held singularly accountable for results – instead they were accountable by group efforts. Dr. Strikeover’s motto was, “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”
Upon questioning the team, I learned they all had the same job duties and were told to get it all done by the end of each day. In theory it was supposed to work, but what happened was that each person gravitated toward the parts of the job they liked the best and some tasks were left for “when we have time.”
The following important tasks were not getting necessary attention:
• Call-backs to unscheduled treatment
Closely associated with the idea of “team” is the concept of “cross-training,” another term borrowed from sports. Dr. Strikeover had emphasized his belief in cross-training so each person could do the entire job if they had to. Cross-training is only recommended, of course, in areas where it is legal. An assistant cannot be cross-trained to be a hygienist. It is assumed that cross-training involves some actual training; instead it was a system of “when someone has down time we will do cross-training.” What resulted is four people at various levels of training.
McKenzie Management has written job descriptions for each viable position at the front desk. There were four people, but only two worked full time and the other two worked part time, but not on the same days. Of the two full time workers, one became the senior Scheduling Coordinator and the other, the Financial/Insurance Coordinator. They had distinct areas of accountability, yet they could cross over into the others area when necessary. Of the part time employees, one became a support Scheduling Coordinator and the other a Patient Coordinator. The critical but necessary tasks were divided between the four based on the hours in the practice and the knowledge of the task. Business reports were run to establish a baseline for which to set goals for success and timelines were entered into the calendar to track successful completion of work.
There was a mutual understanding that each was to complete the tasks they were accountable for while also supporting each other’s success in completion of their work. If someone needed help with the computer software or any other issue, they each were to help in any way they could.
During the Front Office Training, clear instruction of proper scheduling, patient financial arrangements, collections, recall retention, insurance claim follow-up and broken or cancelled appointment follow-up were provided to get the team on the same page. Now they all share the goal of quality patient care and customer service satisfaction. Each team member has distinct job priorities to complete, and they know they are sharing the practice goals for success.
For customized Front Office Business Training, call McKenzie Management today to learn how you can create the best “team spirit” for your team.
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