If everyone is covering for
everyone else, chances are pretty good that the only thing covered
well is everyone’s tracks. Dentists love to embrace the illusion
that in their practice team members can just step in and
take over virtually any function when duty calls. They like to say
that the team members are “cross trained.”
In reality little, if any, actual training has ever occurred.
will cling to this method – if you can call it that –
even as production, patient retention, collections, scheduling,
and other systems are
The doctor’s stress builds, revenues fall, and no
one is accountable for anything because everyone is doing
everything … poorly.
staff are simply expected to “fill in” wherever they
are needed, no one has the opportunity to take ownership or to shine
because the focus is merely on getting the job done, not getting
the job done well. Giving staff members the opportunity to do the
job well means explaining in writing job duties and the expectations.
In other words, you simply must provide job descriptions.
out for the employee their individual responsibilities
and your specific expectations in black and white. Explain
how those responsibilities fit into the overall practice goals so
that the employee has some understanding of the big picture.
If your newly designated scheduling coordinator understands why
it is important that the hygienist be scheduled to meet daily production
goals she can better appreciate the value of her contribution
to your team.
with the fundamentals. The job description doesn’t need to
be long and complex. You can modify it as time
goes on but begin with the job title, a summary of the position,
a list of the responsibilities, and duties of the position.
involve the employee. With the team member’s input, establish
individual performance goals that compliment practice
goals, such as increasing collection ratio, reducing accounts receivables,
improving treatment acceptance and maximizing the hygiene schedule.
standards for measuring results. For example, if you expect collections
to be at 98%, tell your front desk staff, help them to develop a
strategy to achieve that rate, including collections training if
necessary, and each month during the staff meeting give them the
opportunity to report on how well the new system is working. When
they are responsible for reporting on the progress of a system they
take ownership and recognize they are accountable for its
the difference between doing the job well and just doing the job
is in the commitment, attitude, and expectation
of each employee. Once you’ve given them the opportunity to
shine, sit back and enjoy the glow.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
Your GAG Reflex: Making Learning Easier to Swallow
Dr. Nancy Haller
the gag reflex is an important step when treating patients, but
it will stifle success if you avoid it yourself.
- Going Against the Grain
willingness to learn and grow is key to developing
yourself as a leader and taking your practice to its fullest potential.
I am amazed how bright, talented people avoid stretching themselves
and going outside their comfort zone.
"comfort zone" is a state where you are
"comfortable" in your role. You may be doing enough
to "get by" and there is little pressure or even
interest to do things differently because there is some success,
albeit only average. Many dentists who are in their own comfort
zone will not challenge this situation even though they know that
they could achieve a lot more. They tell themselves
that it’s too time consuming or counter productive to upset
the "apple cart". They let the status quo remain. End
result - average performance and average results at best!
we age, the ability to adapt, to move outside our comfort zone becomes
more difficult. But if you don’t force yourself to
grow, you will never achieve the highest level of performance.
of a business expansion strategy that will require you to
"stretch" beyond the current capacity of both
your practice and yourself as CEO.
makes this stretch attractive to you?
makes this stretch unattractive or frightening?
you limiting the growth potential of your company for unresolved
personal reasons? What are they?
are notoriously perfectionists. On the positive side, this
bodes well for precision, accuracy, follow-through. However, perfectionists
are fearful of uncertainty or ambiguity, of giving up control and
‘letting go’. They demand immediate results from themselves
(and others), and are unwilling to go out on a limb and take the
chance of being embarrassed. Unfortunately, this prevents
of us prefer to stay in the comfort zone and then, over time,
the comfort zone becomes more uncomfortable than ever before.
How ironic! The act of avoidance that offers a temporary sense of
security becomes unrelenting insecurity. And, thus a disabling condition
of stagnation sets in.
you don't step out of your comfort zone and face your fears,
the number of situations that make you uncomfortable will keep growing.
Over time, you run the risk of feeling "surrounded" by
previously avoided situations. It is difficult to go against the
grain. Here then are some ways to make learning easier to swallow.
and accept that learning or doing something new is uncomfortable.
The discomfort is normal. And while it’s
natural to want to avoid that feeling, commit to do one thing
differently each day.
Manage your emotions and your mood state. Anger, worries, doubts,
depression, and other negative emotions interfere with learning
and performance. Practice deep breathing when you feel
overwhelmed and pressured.
sure you maintain healthy habits. Exercise, eat
nutritionally, get sufficient sleep. The stronger you are physically,
the faster you will incorporate the new learning.
Mentally and emotionally, prepare yourself for the change by anticipating
what it will be like. Visualize the completion of your goal and
imagine experiencing the adrenalin rush of "I did it"
feeling. Envision the benefits of a smoother
running office, more income, more time off to spend on recreational
self-confidence. Your thoughts shape your future. Almost
all anxious thoughts are irrational. Instead of worrying about
possible failures and slip-ups, recognize your strengths.
Remember times when you have succeeded. Reflect on experiences
when you overcame adversity.
Give yourself ‘time out’ from learning. Build
in time to escape into music, games, reading.
support from family and friends. Get a mentor or hire
a coach. Learning is hard work and you need encouragement.
Feeling connected with others also reduces inner tension.
regret or self-blame. It will only prevent new learning.
Use humor. Norman Cousins said that laughing
is "inner jogging". He called it a work out. Several
studies show that laughing lessens the need for pain medication
and shortens recuperation time.
progress. Reward yourself and your staff when positive
change happens. By recognizing even small accomplishments, you
build motivation to sustain learning.
the desire to stay in your "comfort zone" is preventing
you from reaching for the stars, give me a call. I will help you
to develop your GAG reflex.
Haller is available to speak to your dental society or study club
on subjects such as interpersonal communication, conflict management,
and team building. If you would like information about any of her
practice-building seminars, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 1-877-777-6151 Ext. 33
Executive Coaching Help YOU Be A Better CEO?
this test to find out ...
the Patient’s Perspective
Summer Olympics of 2004 have concluded. For two weeks this celebration
of body, mind, and unshakeable spirit captivated the world. Countries
from every corner of the globe converged on Athens to peacefully
demonstrate their mastery in a multitude of Olympic
sports from swimming, to taekwondo, to
and field, and many more. Each nation sent their hometown heroes,
superstars, as well as virtual unknowns.
concentration, skill, determination, and practice, practice, practice
- no athlete earned the opportunity to enter this magical arena,
reserved for only the most extraordinary and truly elite, without
all of the above. United States gymnast Carly Patterson is no exception.
She bounded onto the Olympic stage stunning audiences with her acrobatic
abilities and capturing them with her poise beyond years and electric
orthodontist had to have been proud as she fielded one question
after another from the swarming media answering each with that smile
gracing her young face. It was just before the Olympics that Carly’s
braces came off. Very aware of the impact of that smile,
Carly recently was quoted in Parade Magazine that she would
like to become an orthodontist saying, “You smile a lot in
gymnastics, and I think one thing everyone should have is great
teeth. Clean, white, straight teeth.”
desire to consider dentistry as a career likely stems from not only
seeing the end result but also the relationship that grew
between her and her orthodontist. The regular check-ups, adjustments,
etc. were the moments in which her orthodontist showed interest
in her and her life.
Carly’s orthodontist made sure that both Carly and her parents
knew that he/she appreciated the opportunity to provide care for
Carly. Perhaps he/she always encouraged Carly and her parents to
ask questions. Chances are that Carly’s orthodontist took
other steps to leave a lasting impression on this young girl, perhaps
by making follow-up phone calls from time to time and making sure
that he/she was focused on the patient in the chair and not
interrupted with other non-practice related issues. Granted,
it’s purely speculation what steps Carly’s orthodontist
might take to make the experience for his/her patients special,
but with even the smallest overtures dentists can have a profound
positive impact on their patient interactions.
Indeed, success in dentistry is often defined by the quality of
those relationships, for without them there are no patients and
there is no dentistry.
of your patients will never see the inside of an Olympic arena,
let alone compete. They are the people who keep the everyday world
in motion, the mothers, fathers, and children, leaders and followers,
blue collar, white collar, and no collar workers. But the beauty
of dentistry is that each patient can be treated with the
same care and commitment to quality that you would treat the next
luminary to enter your practice.
just as there will be no Olympics for the majority of your patients
there are no Olympics for dentists. You don’t wait four years
for one moment in time that defines you as a superstar or relegates
you to the ranks of those who tried and failed. Your gold
medals walk in every day. They are the patients who can
be difficult and don’t think that they deserve any care; yet
you stay focused on providing them only the best treatment. They
are the patients who are so good that you feel that they should
be given even more attention – like routines that you know
too well. They are those who are demanding and argumentative or
try to take advantage of you that enable you to demonstrate your
remarkable grace under pressure.
you won’t be featured on the Wheaties™ box anytime soon,
but focus a bit more on the quality of your patient relationships
and you can be assured that your performance with today’s
challenging as well as routine “exercises” will resonate
across your community for decades to come.
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an even easier and more effective smile design resoure to
help you create the perfect smile for your patient! The Lorin
Library Smile Style Guide! 88 full color
pages, 6 sections of patient education and
smile design strategy. And all new tooth shape comparison
sections! Use the Guide's 3 easy steps to help your patient
choose from 18 beautiful smile designs.
Missed Past Issues of Our e-Tips Newsletter?
What is your opinion about confirming appointments? I have front
office employees who are complaining about the time it takes to
Dr. Peter Lexed
Some things in business that are worthwhile take time. Not confirming
invites people not to show up. Patients are conditioned to getting
a call from your office. Successful confirmation is not leaving
a message with a person other than the patient as leaving a message
on a voice mail system is not reliable. The calls should also begin
within an hour or two hours from the beginning of your work day
which leaves the rest of the day to trouble shoot any problems.
I would also recommend getting email addresses from your patients,
asking them if they check email everyday and informing them you
will begin confirmation by email and then programming your preferences
to give you a return receipt. I would also suggest when calling
that instead of saying “calling to confirm your appointment”
to say “we’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow”.
Hope this is helpful.
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