Are Your Team Members Ready to Step Up?
You depend on your team members for a lot. They help keep your practice on track and are vital to your success, which is why it’s so important for them to be cross trained and prepared to take over when one of their colleagues has to be out of the office.
Many dentists think team members can do this automatically, especially if they’ve been with the practice for a while. They’re experienced dental professionals, after all, and should be comfortable performing just about any task in the office. Unfortunately, unless you provide the proper training, that simply isn’t the case.
While many dentists think they have a cross trained staff, they really don’t. Maybe the Office Manager spent 10 minutes going over her responsibilities with everyone on the team, but that isn’t nearly enough to prepare someone to take on that role while she’s on vacation or an extended leave. With this system, no one is properly trained to step in for their colleagues; everyone is just expected to do everything effectively.
The problem is, when everyone is expected to do everything, no one is truly accountable for anything. This leads to confusion and excuses, like “I thought that was her responsibility” or “I didn’t know we did that” when tasks don’t get done.
Don’t get me wrong. Cross training offers many benefits to a practice. Of course you need team members to be able to fill in when their co-workers are out of the office. Cross training also gives employees a better understanding of the big picture, including how both their contributions and their co-worker’s contributions benefit the practice.
Yes, cross training offers many benefits - but for it to work, it has to be implemented correctly. That means first establishing a clear delineation of duties. You really need to make specific team members responsible for specific systems, and then provide them with the training they need to succeed.
As I mentioned in last week's article, starting with detailed job descriptions is key. Job descriptions outline exactly what each employee is responsible for, while also making your expectations clear. I suggest you sit down with team members to create these job descriptions as well as establish goals. This will help team members truly take ownership of their roles, encouraging them to excel. From there, it’s critical to provide proper training.
The single biggest contributor to practice inefficiency and mismanagement is a poorly trained team. And if you’re talking about business staff, the lack of guidance can cost you thousands of dollars every year, killing your bottom line and keeping your practice from meeting its full potential. I simply can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in training for your team members.
During my more than 30 years as a dental consultant, I’ve heard countless dentists tell me they simply don’t have time to train their staff. They’d rather have them learn on the job. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of frustration and wasted time, and will likely cost the practice money in the long run. Proper training will make team members more confident in their skills and much more effective. I’ve also heard dentists use cost as an excuse to forego training. There’s plenty of affordable educational options available today, so this shouldn’t be a barrier either.
To get started, I recommend investing in job-specific instruction. This will make team members more effective, and will help you boost morale. Your employees will not only learn how to better perform their jobs, they’ll know you’re willing to help them grow as professionals - and that fosters loyalty.
You’ll notice huge improvements after this training is complete, but don’t stop there. Make ongoing internal training part of your practice culture. How, you ask? Implement training into your monthly staff meetings. Have team members educate each other about their systems and what they do each day. This might include your Scheduling Coordinator sharing how to make sure the dentist is never double-booked, or the hygienist giving pointers on how to best educate patients about their oral health and the services you provide to help them meet their goals.
No matter the topic, cross training will help ensure team members understand what role others play in the practice, preparing them to step in and help out whenever necessary.
Developing a foundation of thorough and professional training is crucial to make cross training an effective part of your practice. Employees will be more confident and effective in their roles, and more comfortable taking on other duties when the time comes.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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