6.25.10 Issue #433 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

3 Steps to Get You and Your Team Exactly Where You Should Be
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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There are few things as satisfying as setting a goal and achieving it, whether it’s simply completing a mile on the treadmill or qualifying to run the Boston marathon, whether it’s learning to boil water or fixing a fabulous gourmet meal for friends. There is great satisfaction in identifying your own personal summit and setting a course to reach it.

That couldn’t be truer than in the workplace. Yet too many people don’t enjoy their jobs in the dental practice; they are bored or unchallenged. It’s a symptom that I believe is a direct result of an inability to establish achievable practice goals and set out on a course to reach those goals. My advice: examine each position in your practice and together with your team establish specific job-related goals that will enable your practice to move forward and your team members to grow both personally and professionally. Take these steps:

Step #1
Create specific job descriptions for each employee. Define the job that each staff member is responsible for performing. Specify the skills the person in the position should have. Outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job. Include the job title, a summary of the position, and a list of job duties. This can be the ideal tool to explain to employees exactly what is expected of them. You’d be amazed how many employees have little more than a vague idea of what the dentist expects.

For example, your dental assistant’s job description should include points such as attending beginning of the day meetings, completing case presentations, reinforcing to patients the quality of care delivered in the practice, directing the doctor to check hygiene patients, completing post treatment care calls, converting emergency patients to new patients, turning the treatment room around promptly, etc.

Avoid the common yet dangerous pitfall of overlapping job duties. Instead, cross-train so that each area has coverage when the point person is out ill or is unavailable. If you overlap duties, employees are given tasks but not responsibility. Consequently, the team member trying to fulfill her/his job duties effectively quickly becomes frustrated. S/he wants to take ownership for a particular system, but can’t because it’s not her or his “system” to oversee. It’s simply not in the practice’s best interest to have multiple people responsible for areas such as collections or scheduling.

Step #2
Lay the groundwork for success!

  • Provide the necessary equipment and tools to perform the job
  • Provide training to help team members carry out the job duties most effectively
  • Evaluate the number of staff to ensure the number is adequate
  • Explain what is expected of the employee and how their performance will be measured

For example, if you are measuring the performance of your dental assistant, you should be able to see the distal of the cuspid on every bitewing X-ray, you should never have to reach for an instrument on any setup, and the molds the assistant pours should be free of defects. In addition, if you expect your assistant to achieve an 85% case acceptance, that person needs to know this. If it’s your expectation that the assistant give a daily report on post-treatment calls, this needs to be said. If you expect her or him to convert 75% of emergency patients to comprehensive exam patients and keep the cost of dental supplies at no more than 5% of practice collections, make sure that direction is abundantly clear to the employee.

Step #3
What gets measured gets done. Appraise employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that evaluates 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, attitude, and individual productivity

When you provide your team with clear direction and guidance, they have the opportunity to do more than just perform a task. They can excel at what they are doing. Remember, the vast majority of employees want to deliver a quality work product, and they want to know that they are heading down the right path to achieve individual and overall practice success.

Give the team a little direction and you’ll find the road to success doesn’t have to be a circuitous journey after all.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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