Give Employees the Feedback They Crave
One of the best ways to ensure practice success is to surround yourself with a strong team. You need team members who excel in their roles and are motivated to do their part to move the practice forward. The challenge is, you can’t expect them to get to this point on their own.
There’s a lot that goes into managing a team – a fact you likely didn’t think about when you decided to become a dentist. If you’re like most dentists, you would prefer to focus on dentistry and ignore the human resource and business headaches that are part of owning a practice. Unfortunately, if you do that the practice will suffer, and certainly won’t meet its full potential.
Like it or not, team members look to you, the practice CEO, for guidance. You’re the leader and the one who provides them with the direction and training they need to succeed. And that includes offering continual feedback.
Many dentists give their feedback once or twice a year during performance reviews and think they’re done. If there aren’t any problems, they tell employees they’re doing a great job and then give them a little extra money in their paycheck. Sorry, but that isn’t nearly enough. This gives employees no motivation to improve their performance, so they don’t.
Now you might be thinking your employees would know if you weren’t happy with them. In your mind, the fact that they’re still getting a paycheck is all the feedback they need. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, this way of thinking is likely not only costing you employees, it’s also keeping your practice from achieving true success and profitability.
Some dentists, on the other hand, opt to drop subtle hints here and there, rather than address problems directly. They might post sticky notes with vague messages about something they don’t like, or make a passing comment during a staff meeting. They think team members will get the message, but unfortunately, they don’t.
Here’s an example. Let’s say the practice is experiencing serious financial issues. Instead of talking with your Collections Coordinator about increasing over-the-counter collections, or talking with your Scheduling Coordinator about the importance of scheduling to meet daily production goals, you causally mention that money is tight during a team meeting. This doesn’t tell team members the seriousness of the problem, and gives them no reason to improve performance or make any of the necessary changes. It also does nothing to strengthen your team or your practice.
For that to happen, I suggest you provide continual constructive feedback. And I mean every day. This feedback will help team members drastically improve their performance. They won’t have to guess how they’re doing; they’ll know. They’ll grow as employees and become more efficient members of your team – and when that happens, you’ll grow production numbers and your bottom line.
So when should you give this feedback? You can offer feedback at any time, but it’s most effective when the employee is engaging in the behavior you want to praise or correct. If you hear Sarah your Scheduling Coordinator booking a first-time patient using excellent telephone techniques, for example, let her know you noticed and appreciate her efforts. This will motivate her to do the same with every new patient call.
On the other hand, if she fumbles on the phone and doesn’t seem to know what to say to potential new patients, take her aside and explain how you would like her to handle these calls in the future. Provide extra training if necessary, and work together to develop a script that will help make her more comfortable during these calls.
Bottom line, your employees crave feedback. They want to know what they’re doing right and where they can improve, and only telling them once or twice a year isn’t going to do much to help them grow. I suggest you create an environment where positive feedback and constructive criticism is encouraged. This will help give your team members more confidence in their skills as well as make them more efficient.
Not only that, your team members will be happy to come to the office every day because they work in a positive environment that fosters development. They’ll always know how they’re doing and what their contributions are to the practice. Continual feedback will help them meet their full potential, giving them the tools they need to ensure your practice does the same.
Next week: How to turn feedback into positive action.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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