The 5Ms of a Successful Team
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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In the corporate world, it’s known as the Five Ms, a management model in which each M represents a function that contributes to the bottom line – money, manpower, methods, materials, and machinery. Although I would choose somewhat different terms, the same concept can be easily applied in the dental practice.
How well you and your team implement what I would consider to be the 5 Ms of a successful dental practice- Message, Materials, Measurement, Manpower (Team Power), and Management - has a huge impact on that one very important M in your life: Money.
Let’s start with the Messages that you and your team regularly communicate to patients. Do you convey ordinary or excellent, state of the art or status quo? Is your message warm and welcoming in which the excellence of the team, and subsequently, the dentistry are clearly conveyed to the patient? And, most importantly, have you even considered the messages you’re sending to your patients in every interaction from the first phone call, to the emergency appointment, to the routine visit?
Look at your new patient packet. Do the messages it contains inform, educate, and make the new patient feel good about their decision to choose your practice? Or is it a rundown of rules, policies, and repeat photocopy of forms?
Make your packet informative and inviting. Include a brief letter from the doctor indicating his/her commitment to providing the best possible care for patients. Emphasize specific qualities about the practice that set it apart from others, such as the extremely high infection control standards, dentistry for the entire family, sedation techniques, cosmetic services, state-of-the art equipment, perhaps a commitment to never making the patient wait more than 5-10 minutes, etc. Use brochures and other materials to introduce the team and promote special services. Above all, the new patient packet should clearly convey a feeling of quality, excellence, and warmth to the patient, rather than just serving as a vehicle for patient forms and office policies.
Next, consider the one-on-one messages that you and your team convey to patients. Manage your message through the use of scripts for both the front desk employees as well as clinical staff. These can be highly effective tools in educating patients on the specifics of a particular procedure or addressing their concerns. Maximize your message with the use of educational videos, printed materials, dental models, etc. Companies such as ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing offer several short patient-friendly videos covering numerous topics, including dental hygiene, implants, crown and bridge, endodontics, and much more. Trident Dental Laboratories offers practice development kits and
Measurement – Everyone needs measurable goals from the doctor to the person filing the patient records. With input from the employee, establish individual performance goals that complement practice goals, such as increasing collection ratio, improving treatment acceptance, maximizing the schedule, etc.
Provide job expectations in writing, and establish standards for measuring results. For example, if you expect appointment failures to be cut in half, tell your scheduling coordinator. Help to develop a strategy to achieve that goal, including training if necessary, and appraise her/his ability to meet established goals.
Evaluate employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that assesses key areas such as:
- the employee’s ability to follow instructions
- their willingness to help others and cooperate with others
- the incidents of errors in their work
- their initiative, commitment, and innovation in carrying out their responsibilities and improving work flow
- their work ethics, their attitude, and their individual productivity
Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews can provide your dental team and individual employees far more than a cursory overview of one person’s ability to carry out what they think are their responsibilities. They offer critical information that is essential in your efforts to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity, and staff.
Moreover, study after study confirms that employees are far more likely to succeed if there is a solid system for performance measurements and review. As we’ve found in our own McKenzie Management research, dental employees seek to be challenged, to be given the opportunity to pursue innovative approaches in their work, to be appropriately rewarded for results, and, yes, to be held accountable.
Next week, three Ms that will make or break your practice.
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