Feeling Overwhelmed? Itís Time to Empower Your Team
Running a dental practice can be exhausting. Not only do you have patients to treat and a business to manage, you also have to keep track of your staff members’ to-do lists. You’re constantly reminding them how to perform their daily duties, because if you don’t, you’re certain nothing will ever get done.
You’d love for your team members to take control of their responsibilities and finally start thinking for themselves. The stress of keeping them on point is getting to you, and it’s clear something needs to change. You’re overwhelmed, and it won’t be long before you totally burn out.
If you find yourself nodding your head as you read this, it’s time for you to empower your team. Every successful practice has a strong team behind it, with everyone doing their part to help meet practice goals. But for this to happen, your team members need guidance from you, the practice CEO. They also need your trust. If you don’t think they can ever do anything right, then chances are they won’t.
Once you empower your team to perform, you’ll have a much more efficient, profitable practice. Your team members will be more confident, and that will show in the way they interact with patients. You’ll be much less stressed, with more time to focus on delivering top-notch care.
Ready to empower your team? Here’s how:
Write down protocols. To ensure team members know what tasks need to get done routinely, make a list and then train team members to perform these duties. Assign tasks to specific team members and have them write down protocols step-by-step. Then, make sure they can perform the tasks to your satisfaction.
Hold them accountable. When you assign tasks, let team members know they can delegate if they choose, but ultimately they’re responsible for the tasks getting done – and getting done correctly. This eliminates any confusion. Team members will know exactly what they’re accountable for, empowering them to take ownership.
Develop job descriptions. While most dentists would rather not talk about job descriptions, they’re vital to your practice’s success. They outline exactly what a team member’s role is, as well as performance measurements and your expectations. You simply can’t expect tasks to get done if they’re not assigned to a specific person. In that situation, everyone expects someone else to do it. Job descriptions eliminate this problem. Develop job descriptions for each role, then hand them out to every team member.
Give them a timeframe. Team members must understand the importance of not only completing their tasks, but also completing them in a timely manner. Communication is key here; you have to make it clear when you expect tasks to be finished. Provide a timeframe, such as “before the end of the day.” Remember, just because a task is urgent to you doesn’t mean it’s urgent to them.
Develop a confirmation system. Often dentists ask team members to do something, then worry they’ll forget to do it. It lingers in the back of their mind, bothering them until they finally break down and ask. This is just another unnecessary source of stress, which is why it’s important to set up a confirmation system so you know exactly when tasks are completed.
Here are a few ideas you can implement today:
• Have every team member make notes in the same place on the computer. This could be in contacts, clinical notes, the journal, or anywhere else that’s easy for the team to access. Train them to mark when a task is completed. If the task isn’t completed in the timeframe given, go to the person responsible for the task.
• Tell team members to leave a sticky note on your desk with all the information you asked for, confirming the task was completed, when it was completed and the outcome. Designate a specific place on your desk to put the sticky note so it’s easy to find.
• Ask them to send you an email with the same information once a task is complete.
• Ask team members to give updates during the morning huddle and monthly team meetings.
• Tell team members to put a note in the patient’s record.
Encourage creativity. Create an environment where team members feel safe coming to you with ideas to enhance the practice. Listen to what they have to say and thank them for their comments – even if you don’t agree. If you’re not receptive to their ideas or if they think you won’t listen, they’ll stop communicating.
Let them know their ideas and contributions are important and give them positive feedback when they come to you with thoughts on how to attract new patients or improve case acceptance. Make them feel like the valuable team members that they are, and they’ll be much more vested in the practice’s success.As a busy dentist, you have a lot to think about. Whether or not your team is actually performing the tasks you assign them shouldn’t be on that list. It’s too exhausting, and will just lead to burnout. Empower your team to perform, and hold them accountable for their tasks. You’ll soon find that you finally have an efficient, confident team, leaving more time to focus on growing your practice.
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