– As Important to Receive as to Give
Feedback is only as good as
what you do with it. No question, doctors need to provide
feedback to employees daily, but this street runs both
ways and employees must be willing to accept the feedback and take
action on it. In reality, if employees are open to it, feedback
is all around them particularly from their colleagues in the dental
practice. The key is to take the feedback and turn it into positive
employees, no matter how carefully they are handled, will take every
constructive comment as
They only want to hear how well they are doing, not how
they can improve. Take a good look at how you respond to
suggestions and comments from those around you. Are you defensive?
Do you take it as a personal affront? Are your feelings hurt or
do you become angry when someone recommends doing something a different
way? Do you dismiss feedback because you don’t like the person
giving it? The key is to separate yourself from the action and look
at feedback as an objective view of a particular task or procedure
and, most importantly, as one of the most essential tools you can
use to excel.
often supervisors and coworkers are so overly concerned about offending
a staff member they shun opportunities to give feedback. So when
a co-worker steps forward and actually offers feedback they are
taking a major risk and should be thanked for their willingness
to help you become a better employee. Ideally, the culture of the
practice should encourage open feedback among the
team members to continuously improve systems and patient services.
best way to become comfortable in receiving and acting on feedback
is to ask for it. We are completely incapable of
seeing ourselves as others see us, which is why being open to feedback
is essential in achieving our greatest potential and recognizing
those professional habits and approaches that are interfering with
that potential. When receiving feedback make a conscious decision
to listen carefully to what the person is saying and control your
desire to respond. In other words, resist the urge to kill
the messenger. Ask questions to better understand the specifics
of the person’s feedback. If the person giving the feedback
is angry ask them if you can sit down and discuss the problem when
you are both calmer and can respond wisely rather than emotionally.
them for trying to help you improve, even if you didn’t particularly
care for what they told you. Resist the urge to blow off those comments
you considered to be negative. Push yourself to write the comments
down and focus on the substance of the message
rather than what you might perceive as a negative tone from the
messenger. Over the next 48 hours think about the information you
have been given and devise three to five steps you can take to change
your approach. For example, Mary the assistant is very
frustrated because she feels that Sue at the front desk is unnecessarily
interrupting staff members with insignificant matters when they
are with patients. Sue’s initial reaction is very negative
because she feels that Mary is trivializing her need for clear communication
with the staff. Instead of lashing out, Sue decides to ask for examples
and listens to Mary’s perception of the interruptions. She
thanks Mary for calling her attention to the issue and decides to
focus on addressing the matter constructively rather
than reacting negatively to what she could choose to interpret
as unjust criticism. She develops a plan to raise the issue at the
next staff meeting and solicit input from the clinical staff. Sue
is prepared to share with the team situations in which she has felt
the matter necessitated an interruption and would like guidance
on how to handle similar matters in the future.
sit back and wait for feedback, actively solicit it and use it!
Recognize that feedback is one of the most critical tools you have
in achieving your full professional potential.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
Up the Mirror…See Yourself as Others Do
Dr. Nancy Haller
You look in the mirror every day…to check if your hair
is in place, how your clothes look, whether your make-up is right.
Most of us wouldn’t dare leave the house for an important
event without checking our attire or our appearance. Based on what
we see, we might straighten our tie, reapply our lipstick, pass
the comb through one more time. We want to be sure that
we see ourselves as others will see us.
When was the last time you stepped back and looked in the ‘leadership
mirror’? Is your image of yourself as a leader consistent
with how your employees see you? Are you sure they see you
the same way you think they do? Do you reflect
characteristics of vision, composure, integrity, empathy? How much
time have you spent aligning your perceptions with your
look in the mirror and ask for honest feedback takes confidence
and courage. You risk seeing something negative about yourself.
But the only way you can grow and learn is to challenge yourself
to improve. Without a doubt, whatever skills you have now are unlikely
to be sufficient in the future. To be successful requires
continuous development. It means identifying your strengths
– the things you do well and enjoy the most – and facing
your limitations, your underdeveloped skills – the things
you need to learn and/or do better.
we don’t all seek to learn at the same pace. Some of us are
defensive. We refuse to look at our weaknesses.
Some of us blame our problems on others. We make excuses.
Some of us want a quick fix. We don’t
make the time for development. Some of us just aren’t
sure what to do.
you’re interested in self-development and are committed to
becoming a better leader, here are some guidelines to get you started.
an assessment. Poll 10 people who know you well for detailed
feedback. Focus your survey on five (5) questions:
do I do well?
What do I not do well?
What would you like to see me keep doing?
What would you like to see me start doing?
What would you like to see me stop doing?
you tally the responses, ask yourself whether you are clear on your
strengths. What about your weaknesses? What are the skills you need
to learn? What are the obstacles to learning those skills?
list your skills into the following seven categories:
Strengths – I do these easily and effectively.
I am at my best.
Strengths Overused – Too much of a good
thing is bad. An example is confident to the point that you
Unacknowledged Strengths – Others see me
doing these things well. I was not aware of these strengths.
– I don’t do these well.
Blind Spots – You see strengths where others
Requirements – I’ve never done this before
and need new information.
Uncertain – I need more feedback.
and foremost, celebrate your strengths. By recognizing
your talents you foster the confidence and courage needed
to persevere in your own development. Determine how and
where you can leverage your strengths to develop your areas of weakness.
your overused strengths. Rein them in. Get the downside
of your strength up to neutral. It’s not necessary to be good
at it but instead to insure that it doesn’t hurt you.
Address your weaknesses. Decide to work on one
or two skills that you need to develop. It is likely that you will
be changing habits, or developing new ones. In either case, you
will be more effective in your efforts if you prioritize and focus.
Be specific. Set observable action steps you will take to move you
closer to your intended leadership goal. Share your plan with employees
so they can continue to give you timely, honest feedback. Practice
to cement your learning.
for help. Research indicates that employees are more likely
to give the benefit of doubt to bosses who admit their shortcomings
and strive to do something about it. Involve your staff in your
plan. It also is important to get a mentor or a coach, someone who
will challenge you as well as give you support.
that good leaders are not born, but made. Take a look in the mirror!
you would like help assessing your leadership effectiveness, contact
Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club?
her at email@example.com
DOES YOUR OVERHEAD
WANT ME TO DO WHAT?”
Un-Written Job Description
Belle M. DuCharme
RDA, CDPMA, Director
The Center for
Dental Career Development
To Become an Exceptional Front Office Employee, is one
of our most popular workshops at The Center for Dental Career Development.
It’s not unusual for doctor’s to send their business
staff hoping they will return with a whole new outlook and attitude.
Recently at the conclusion of one of my workshops, I was approached
by one of the attendees.
really got a lot of good information about what it takes to do this
job correctly, but I think I am wasting my time
with my current employer,” she said. “Would
you care to elaborate?” I
“It’s the part about the job description. I don’t
have a written job description and I was hired to “help”
the woman who has been there five years. We see about forty patients
a day and the phone rings a lot. I am supposed to check everyone
in and out plus answer the phone by myself. I have a lot of other
duties during the day that just don’t get done like calling
overdue recall patients. I was sent here so that I could come back
and do everything I have been told to do. The “office
manager”, I was hired to help, no longer answers the phone
or greets patients. She sits in her private office and does insurance
and collection calls. I am not sure what else she does
but she is not stressed out like I am. I don’t feel like I
can change the situation because the doctor and the “office
manager” have a close relationship. I will probably leave
this job. If I had known about my job duties before I accepted
the job, I probably wouldn’t have, or, I would have
negotiated to divide the job more fairly.”
I then said, “My suggestion to you would be to take back
the information you have learned here today and demonstrate why
it is necessary to have two people, a Scheduling
Coordinator and a Financial Coordinator with definitive job descriptions
checking patients in and out based on your present patient volume
and the projected growth of the practice. Explain
to the doctor that there are important areas of the practice that
increase production/revenues such as calling patients for recall
and unscheduled treatment that is incomplete because
there are not enough hours left in your workday to accomplish the
tasks. Show him the formula I taught you today regarding how to
determine how many front office employees are needed to process
the patients efficiently. If the “office manager” does
not want to accept a revision of her job duties then I suggest the
doctor review over his payroll expenditure and consider hiring a
Patient Coordinator to field incoming calls, manage the recall department
and the unscheduled treatment follow-up and monitoring systems.
Try this before you give notice.”
Job turnover can be avoided by making Job Descriptions available
for potential employees to evaluate before the hiring process
is complete. Years ago I was hired as a clinical assistant for a
very large practice in Anaheim, California. At the end of my second
day, the office manager said I had to clock out and then clock back
in at a lower pay rate to clean the operatories, the lab and take
out the trash. I gave notice the next morning. The costs to advertise
for new employees, the time to train new employees and the affects
of turnover on the morale of the staff and the patients
should be seriously considered before the hiring process is started.
can you match the best temperament type, skills and education to
a position, if the position has no description? Formulate
the job description first before seeking the best candidate
for the position.
Advanced Front Office Business Training call, THE
CENTER FOR DENTAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT
M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA
YOU LIKE TO HAVE
Exceptional Front Office Employees?
PAST ISSUES OF OUR E-MOTIVATOR NEWSLETTER?
to find out about
Your Chairside Assistant Were More Efficient?
long have you been practicing inefficiently? Are all those compromises
you've been making worth the price of lost production and the
physical wear and tear on your body? Wish you could choreograph
your chairside team for optimal performance? If so, then this
DVD "Optimizing Team Performance" was designed for
you! This training resource was produced by Risa Simon and one
of dentistry's top clinical management speakers. Don't waste
time watching videotapes when you can dial up topics of interest
from the DVD's scene selection menu. Scenes include: Posture
& Positioning, Magnification & Illumination, Assistant
Access & Visibility, Ergonomic Work Zones, Chairside Efficiency
Techniques, including Instrument & HP Transfers for efficient
4 handed & 6 handed dentistry - a must for every office!
One of my techniques in my office is to often utilize a "walk-the-floor"
when I'm not with patients. I'm not hovering over my employees but
my goal and intent is to catch them doing things right and give
them the feedback you mentioned in last week’s newsletter
as it occurs. I've done this for years and the staff really enjoy
and like being told they did something well and getting it when
it occurs, not hours or days later. This also serves to educate
and let the other employees who see this know what it is that I'm
“shooting’ for. My weakness is how to handle those occasions
when I see or hear something I don't like or wished was handled
better. This isn't often but it does occur. I've never been able
to come up with a good way to handle this. If I bring it up at the
moment it occurs, I risk putting that staff member on the spot in
front of the rest of the team and I never try and set up any of
my employees for embarrassment. That's one of my Golden Rules. However
if I pull that staff member back to my office to discuss it, it
often takes a few minutes and causes others to end up waiting on
me for an exam, treatment, and so on and I do not like putting a
wrench in the schedule, if at all avoidable. If I wait, I risk it
being forgotten by me or the staff person may not have the recollection
of the event as I do, plus it's lost its impact if discussed too
far after the fact.
I'm not talking about major transgressions. Obviously those are
handled in a different manner. I'm talking about the more minor
situations that I'd merely like handled or performed differently
or more consistently in a certain way. Any advice?
Dr. Watchful Eye
My suggestion would be to communicate the infraction in three possible
employee has a voice mail box with your telephone system. You
go back to your office and leave her/him a voice mail.
employee has an email address. You go back to your office and
send her/him an email.
go back to your office and handwrite it and put it in an envelope
and mail it to him/her.
In any of these three ways, you don’t forget it, and it’s
done then. The employee’s day is not interrupted nor is she/he
embarrassed in front of other staff.
You have told the employee ahead of time that you feel this is the
fairest way to give feedback so she/he knows this is how to expect
occasional feedback from you.
Hope this helps.
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