In 2007, Build Your Team, as Well as
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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When it comes to showing appreciation for staff, many dentists believe that exercise is an annual event, taken care of once a year, usually around the holidays. This year, make an effort to show staff appreciation January through December.
January – During your monthly meeting, set the tone for the coming year. Before you begin discussing your practice goals for the next 12 months, take five minutes and recognize each employee for something special that they’ve done recently. It doesn’t have to be long and flowery, but it must be genuine. For example, “Emily, you handled the collection situation with Mrs. Carson extremely well. I really appreciate your efforts to address that matter and handle it with such care.” Try to single out each employee in some positive way. In addition, encourage your staff to catch each other at their best and to share those at the monthly meetings during the coming year.
Each day, as you see your employees going above and beyond, handling a difficult situation, meeting a practice goal, etc. praise them, and, if possible, do so in front of others.
February - Give staff the tools to become more productive members of your team. Take them to the ADA or Chicago Midwinter Meeting or plan to provide individual training opportunities for them in the coming months.
Everyone in the office can benefit if you send one auxiliary to an educational seminar. Ask the designated staff member to attend on behalf of the office and present a mini workshop on what they’ve learned at a future staff meeting. This demonstrates to the employee that you value them and you are willing to invest in their professional growth. It also helps them to take ownership in educating the rest of the team on a new procedure or policy that can be implemented to improve the practice as a whole.
March – Encourage each staff member to take ownership of the success of the practice. Employees want to feel that they are contributing to the success of the team. One of the best ways is to identify a few systems or services in which the practice could improve, such as the new patient experience, recall, developing a practice website, etc. Assign a couple of staff members to draft a plan and a proposed strategy to address those areas.
Most employees take great satisfaction and ownership in shaping successful strategies and implementing them to the benefit of the entire practice. Moreover, team members provide critical insight into the integral workings of key systems and often their input into the development of policies, procedures, and new programs is invaluable.
April – Plan your monthly meeting offsite at the zoo or museum and allow time for the team to enjoy the outing.
May – Bring in fruit and bagels one day with a note to your team expressing your appreciation for their dedication and hard work. Mention practice goals that are on track and thank them for their contribution to making those goals a reality. For example, “Congratulations to my excellent team!” We’ve reached our production goals in four of the last five months. Way to go!”
June, July, August – Give each employee the opportunity to take one “Play Day” during the summer months. It will have to be scheduled so as not to cause a strain on the team, but the day is considered a “free day” and is not charged as vacation, personal, or sick time.
September – Treat the team to the movies and snacks. Inventory your appreciation efforts. Are you catching employees at their best and recognizing their efforts? Are your employees making the effort to show appreciation for each other?
October – Give an “Above and Beyond” award to one of your employees who has done something exceptional over the past 10 months. Or recognize a small group of employees who were instrumental in developing and implementing improvements to a key system.
November – Give thanks to each and every one of your employees. Write them a note and include it with their paycheck that tells them you are thankful for their contribution and dedication.
December – Enjoy a holiday season that doesn’t have you scrambling trying to come up with some token gift to fulfill some holiday expectation. Instead, give appreciation throughout the year and enjoy a relaxing dinner out with your staff and their families.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at email@example.com.
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Front Office Administrators or Dental Business
I make it my business to read as much as I can about business and marketing trends that are standardizing the dental business environment. There are many excellent clinicians and consultants teaching and writing in this arena. The right or wrong ways of doing dental business are not written in stone and as long as the results are positive for the practice and are legally and ethically strong, this can be subjective.
Recently, I read an article published in a recognizable dental publication written by a respected clinician/consultant. The expert addressed a “new” leadership paradigm for dentistry. I am not sure how “new” he intends his information to be. After reading his article I was validated in my own teachings and that of McKenzie Management. His “new leadership paradigm” has been the thrust of the Advanced Business Training of McKenzie Management for many years. We have been promoting and seeing the positive results of this type of leadership in the practices that we have helped over the many years we have been in business. In summary, we promote:
- Establishing a practice vision and philosophy
- Defining the performance you expect for yourself as CEO and the people who will be on your dental team
- Creating job descriptions devoid of ambiguity, which state the responsibilities to the team, and hiring the people who can deliver
- Creating positions that have definitive and measurable areas of accountability for each team member
- Rewards based upon performance of job and contributions of ideas to improve the practice
- Creating an environment of “ownership” for team members
- Create a system of training and support for team members fully valued by the dentist CEO
The goal here is to inspire leadership and ownership in our dental teams.
In his article, Dr. Goodright (not his real name) likens the old style of dental management to a “herd of buffalo”, where the office is at a standstill until the dentist CEO shows up and tells everyone what to do. Leadership was not promoted but was killed in favor of “micro-management” by the dentist or whoever was “in charge” to see that everyone was controlled into submission. As stated in his article, the dentists who have followed this type of management are tired of “always having to keep everything together” and may be waning instead of being at their peak of production, profitability, and pleasure. Dr. Goodright’s article encourages dentists to break out of the buffalo herd and create instead, a “flock of geese”. The metaphorical flock of geese fly in a “V” formation and each member of the flock takes turns being the leader. This type of management fosters leadership because each member gets to be a leader. The micro-manager needs to transition out of controlling every aspect of the practice in order for this type of leadership to flourish. This can be very difficult for some. Hiring correctly, training and establishing job descriptions with definitive areas of accountability creates the environment to develop leaders instead of passive employees who are micro-managed into doubting every move they make.
I followed the plight of a Dental Office Administrator who worked for a micro-manager dentist for about a year. She kept calling me for encouragement to stay on the job. “He questions everything I do and nothing I do seems to be right. I am feeling worthless and afraid to make a decision.” She left dentistry for another profession.
Employee turnover is infamous in dentistry, and is not getting any better with more and more people leaving dentistry for good. The process of hiring and training people is time consuming and costs hundreds to sometimes thousands of dollars. Every industry must do this to ensure the success of their business because you are only as good as the people who represent you.
It’s the dentist’s choice to hire a dental office administrator or to do the job him or herself. In either event, advanced training is in order for the team member, the dentist, or both. Micro-management is born out of fear, distrust and lack of knowledge. The Advanced Business Training for Dentists and Dental Administrators is the answer. I would not call myself a buffalo or a goose but a “wise owl” because I have the knowledge of what it takes to make a practice successful. My goal is to improve the success story of every dentist and dental office administrator who takes the Advanced Business Course.
For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training for Front Office and Office Managers, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call `1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/
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Rocks, Paper, Scissors and Pencils!
A McKenzie Management Case Study
Dr. Beth Copeland - Case Study #632
Dr. Copeland was at the end of her rope – or maybe more appropriately, her front desk employees were at the end of their employment ropes!
When she bought her practice from a retiring dentist two years prior to McKenzie Management, her first objective was to computerize the practice. The staff was supportive and enthusiastic…at the time!
Now, it is two years later and the walls are covered with hand-written copies of today’s schedule, barely legible, with the description of the procedures to be performed as “fillings”. “This is driving me crazy”, Dr. Copeland complained, “and I can’t get them to use the computers for scheduling!”
With over 30(30 years) years of experience in McKenzie Management our ability is to understand people. We recognize that the staff’s favorite radio show is WIFM – “What’s In It For Me?”. We also recognize that change is not easy and most doctors and team members do not want to change. If they can accomplish the same goal and not have to change, why learn something new? “Just so Dr. Copeland can read the names of her patients for the day, isn’t that sufficient? She has a chart to review – what more does she need?”
In order to make changes as easily as possible, it is important that everyone involved understand why the changes are necessary. Dr. Copeland and McKenzie Management came up with a list of business goals that were to be achieved during the next six months:
- A daily production goal of $3,000 for the doctor and $1,000 for the hygienist.
- All patients that cancelled their appointment would be called after 30 days for re-scheduling.
- Patients who wanted to be seen sooner would be called when there was a change in the schedule.
- Past due recall patients were to be called after 30 days and letters sent after 60 days.
- When a patient rescheduled their appointment, the appointment that was changed MUST be cancelled to avoid the patient having two appointments! “This happens all the time because we forget to erase the first appointment!”
- All appointed patients had to have the procedures indicated on the schedule so the assistants could prepare the operatory properly.
- The # of hygiene days needed was to be calculated every three months to maintain adequate available hygiene days for the recall patients.
- The schedules were to be type-written and legible!
Guess what? These goals are easily accomplished when the computer scheduling capabilities are used. Manually, it would be nearly impossible.
Six months after Dr. Copeland’s office visit, the observations were:
- Daily doctor production was up 20%
- Hygiene production was up 25%
- An additional day of hygiene was added per week
- Routing slips were used to improve inter-office communication about
- Patients were happier because they were being seen sooner
- Patient retention was at 90% - No one knew what it was before
- Recall patients weren’t being “lost in the cracks”
Also, important to note is that the staff actually admitted that after the initial “learning curve”, computer scheduling had made them more efficient and they were able to give away their old Remington typewriter that had been taking up valuable counter space! The electric pencil sharpener was also gone. AND…they noticed that the bottle of White-Out had dried up!
Doctors, your staff listens to WIFM, too. When it is important to make changes, establish the goals you want to accomplish in regard to the changes and make it apparent to everyone involved. Give them the tools for their toolbox to reach the goals. Play the WIFM station for them!
Contact McKenzie Management to learn more about goal-setting strategies to achieve changes you desire.
If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email email@example.com.
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