1.12.07 - Issue # 253 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Don’t Let One Bad Apple Spoil the Practice

A member of your staff is doing non-work related tasks during business hours. It might be surfing the internet, making personal phone calls, or running errands during assigned work time. Doesn’t really matter what the distraction is - he/she isn’t doing what you’re paying them to do!

In the U.S., an estimated 750 billion dollars a year is ‘wasted’ by employees at work. And studies have shown that there is a direct correlation with the amount of time people “waste” at work and their commitment to your practice.

Research has found that when the level of engagement increases just 1%, the likelihood that an employee will waste time at work decreases 5%. This equates to nearly 2 extra weeks of work per year. In contrast, when the level of engagement decreases 1%, the likelihood that an employee will waste time at work increases 4%.

No great surprise. Workers who are fully engaged are much more likely to behave in ways that benefit your practice.

The single best measure you can take to insure good staff is to hire conscientious people.  Employees who are carefully screened for positive work attitudes are significantly more likely to be fully engaged. This leads to more positive relationships with your patients, more harmonious interactions between staff, and greater practice profitability.

As the dental leader, your job is to set clear objectives and hold people accountable. This is as important as "soft" leadership skills, such as empowerment, coaching and mentoring. Give employees the authority they need to do the job they're paid for. If you bombard them with petty rules, you'll prevent them from doing their job and increase your costs at the same time. Empowerment is a simple idea anyone can understand. You don’t need a slew of techniques or theories to do it. Here’s how a good leader presents a winning choice to a bad apple.

  1. Communicate expectations clearly in terms of performance and behavior. This starts with a written job description. It should detail what the duties are as well as how you want those responsibilities to be carried out. For example, a front office employee needs to answer the phone by the third ring and  do so in a friendly, calm voice.
  2. Clarify the rewards of meeting your expectations – i.e. job security, future opportunity, respect and credibility. Make sure your staff understands what must be done to receive a raise or a bonus, and be consistent with rewards.
  3. Spell out the consequences of not meeting expectations – i.e. looking for another role where he/she will find more satisfaction. Avoid ultimatums. Focus on the impact of the poor performance to the team and ultimately, to the employee. Learn to give timely feedback
  4. Allow the employee an opportunity to choose his/her own path. One road leads to rewards, and the other leads to new adventures…including the option to leave. Your practice may not be the best place for them at this time. Be truthful and kind as you lay out the choice.
  5. Inform the employee that you will support him/her in whatever they decide. Convey that the choice and the responsibility ultimately belong to them.
  6. Confirm that the employee understands your expectations and that you will do your part by supporting him and holding him accountable.

Once you have had this discussion, document it and put your notes in the employee’s personnel file. If it’s necessary to have a second conversation about poor performance, be sure to have the employee sign the written warning. Then empower the employee to create his/her own destiny. Their actions will signal their "choice". Show support. Reward them for progress, or release them from a situation that neither party is happy with.

It’s never easy to let someone go, but it is the right thing to do if that's the employee’s "choice". By following the above guidelines, your team will respect you for fair and decisive leadership. And your employee cart will be in apple-pie order again.

Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice. Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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