Sometimes It's Time to Say Good-Bye
Case Study #231
On the questionnaire that our clients complete prior to the initial visit by the consultant, it is not uncommon for one of the requests to read something like this: “Need you to motivate my staff.”
Gosh, I wish I had such powers over people, but motivation must be self-induced. I can shine the light down the path, provide toolboxes, and be a great cheerleader but motivate, I can’t. This same request was made by Dr. Cross when I visited with her. “I feel like my team is in a rut. We are doing the same things over and over again and not making any significant changes for improvement. They need to be motivated.”
So let’s see what is really going on in Dr. Cross’s office.
Practice statistics at the time of my visit:
The actual dollar amount is not significant for this article. It is important, however, to note that the practice is not growing financially. Several statistical indicators illustrate that the practice has areas that need improvement.
Step #1 – This Is A Business
Accuracy is important in all phases of the business. The patient’s demographic information must be correct in the computer in order to generate accurate statements, insurance claims and reports. The patient’s clinical information must be charted accurately by the doctor, hygienist and assistants to avoid potential errors today and in the future.
Step #2 – Analyze The Business For Strengths And Weaknesses
Fortunately, her practice was not suffering from a lack of new patients. Two years ago she had made the leap to digital radiography, thus eliminating patient paper records, and the practice had undergone a complete “makeover” last year so these topics were seen as strengths.
Step #3 – Who Can Do The Job?
These discussions evolved into Job Descriptions for the team: a Clinical Coordinator to manage the expenses of the dental supplies, a Financial Coordinator, Schedule Coordinator and Hygiene Coordinator to manage the various tasks in the business area of the practice. Each Coordinator was assigned very specific tasks in order to reach specific goals they established. Now the fun begins!
This is where the tough get going or the going gets tough. Remember I mentioned that many wonderful team members understand numbers, goals and targets. Other team members can remember every patient’s name, their pet’s name and their telephone numbers. What a gift when used in the right “department” of the business.
Dr. Cross had three wonderful business team members. Due to lack of job descriptions, they all did everything and yet no one did anything specifically. It was due to no fault of theirs – the doctor never learned in dental school how to run a “business.” Fortunately, however, she knew enough to see that something needed to be fixed, she just didn’t know what it was or how to fix it!
Step #4 – Is The Right Person In The Right Position For The Job?
The solution? Match up the strengths of the team members with the job description that works best for them. The Schedule Coordinator and the Hygiene Coordinator swapped places. They realized that one of them was more task-oriented and one multi-tasked much easier and enjoyed the “organized” chaos that can take place in the “hot seat.” The Financial Coordinator recognized that she was not a “numbers” person, which is so very crucial for her position. She elected to attend hygiene school so she could work more closely with the patients, which was her strength.
As the owner of your “business” there are times when it can be very difficult to make the right decision for the entire team and for the business. Analyze your practice to determine your strengths and weaknesses, review the job descriptions of your team and confirm that you have the right people in the right places - everyone will be much happier as a result!
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