Traveling in Circles? Take the Direct Route to Practice Success
How often have you found yourself setting out to go somewhere, but you’re not entirely sure what route you should follow. You have a general idea where you are headed, but the further along on your journey you get the more frustrated you become. You find it’s taking you much longer to reach your destination than you anticipated. If you had first sought a little guidance, direction, or perhaps a map, double-checked the address or even grabbed the GPS you could have reached your target far more quickly and efficiently. We frequently find a similar scenario in dental practices. The doctor starts on his or her professional journey, and years later is still wandering on what may or may not be the right path, feeling as though it’s taking much too long to reach his or her goals.
Oftentimes, these dentists don’t realize that their staff are suffering from the same lack of direction and frustration. Understandably, between the busyness of the dental business and the chronic employee turnover experienced by many offices, ensuring that everyone is on course is no simple challenge. Unfortunately, it is common for employees to go along doing their own thing, carrying out their duties with little direction or guidance.
Ask these employees a few questions, such as: What are your responsibilities? What are you trying to accomplish? What is expected of you? What are the goals of the practice and where do you fit in? You may well find that the staff can offer little more than a good guess. It’s this professional disconnect that consistently yields lackluster results, fuels employee turnover, and manifests in stressful unproductive days for both doctor and team.
Typically, at the root of the issue are some very problematic assumptions among staff and doctor. Dentists commonly assume that their team members know what is expected of them and what they should be accomplishing day-to-day, and if they don’t they will speak up. Similarly, employees too often assume that the dentist will tell them if they have specific expectations or want things done in a certain way.
While doctors expect and team members want to be able to maximize their intelligence and their abilities, too often dental office employees are struggling to figure out the job, the systems, the practice and the doctor’s preferences on their own - hoping it’s right, but not really knowing for sure. It usually takes a serious problem, such as a major financial wake-up call, for the doctor to realize that he and his team are not only on the wrong path, but they are likely traveling completely different routes and are nowhere near the level of success the entire team is capable of achieving.
It’s time to stop the assumptions. Your team must know what is expected of them and how to achieve those expectations. If you do not know how to guide them in developing realistic objectives, goals, and job duties, seek help. Open the lines of communication regularly through staff meetings, ongoing feedback, and employee reviews. In reality, employees are far more likely to meet, if not exceed, the doctor’s expectations if they know exactly what those are and if there is a specific system in place to measure and review everyone’s performance and everyone’s contribution to the total practice success.
Much like the patient who sits in the chair and doesn’t say where it hurts, what they are concerned about, or what the problem or desire is - you have a far more difficult time satisfying the needs and expectations of this patient than you do the one who clearly articulates what they want and need. The same is true of your employees.
Next week, chart a direct course to achieve your goals by year’s end.
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