3.16.07 - Issue # 262 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Performance Measurments
McKenzie Case Study
Personality Differences

The 5Ms of a Successful Team
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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In the corporate world, it’s known as the Five Ms, a management model in which each M represents a function that contributes to the bottom line – money, manpower, methods, materials, and machinery. Although I would choose somewhat different terms, the same concept can be easily applied in the dental practice.

How well you and your team implement what I would consider to be the 5 Ms of a successful dental practice- Message, Materials, Measurement, Manpower (Team Power), and Management - has a huge impact on that one very important M in your life: Money.

Let’s start with the Messages that you and your team regularly communicate to patients. Do you convey ordinary or excellent, state of the art or status quo? Is your message warm and welcoming in which the excellence of the team, and subsequently, the dentistry are clearly conveyed to the patient?  And, most importantly, have you even considered the messages you’re sending to your patients in every interaction from the first phone call, to the emergency appointment, to the routine visit?

Look at your new patient packet. Do the messages it contains inform, educate, and make the new patient feel good about their decision to choose your practice? Or is it a rundown of rules, policies, and repeat photocopy of forms?

Make your packet informative and inviting. Include a brief letter from the doctor indicating his/her commitment to providing the best possible care for patients. Emphasize specific qualities about the practice that set it apart from others, such as the extremely high infection control standards, dentistry for the entire family, sedation techniques, cosmetic services, state-of-the art equipment, perhaps a commitment to never making the patient wait more than 5-10 minutes, etc. Use brochures and other materials to introduce the team and promote special services. Above all, the new patient packet should clearly convey a feeling of quality, excellence, and warmth to the patient, rather than just serving as a vehicle for patient forms and office policies.

Next, consider the one-on-one messages that you and your team convey to patients. Manage your message through the use of scripts for both the front desk employees as well as clinical staff. These can be highly effective tools in educating patients on the specifics of a particular procedure or addressing their concerns. Maximize your message with the use of  educational videos, printed materials, dental models, etc. Companies such as ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing offer several short patient-friendly videos covering numerous topics, including dental hygiene, implants, crown and bridge, endodontics, and much more.  Trident Dental Laboratories offers practice development kits and

Measurement – Everyone needs measurable goals from the doctor to the person filing the patient records. With input from the employee, establish individual performance goals that complement practice goals, such as increasing collection ratio, improving treatment acceptance, maximizing the schedule, etc.

Provide job expectations in writing, and establish standards for measuring results. For example, if you expect appointment failures to be cut in half, tell your scheduling coordinator. Help to develop a strategy to achieve that goal, including training if necessary, and appraise her/his ability to meet established goals. 

Evaluate employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that assesses key areas such as:

  • the employee’s ability to follow instructions
  • their willingness to help others and cooperate with others
  • the incidents of errors in their work
  • their initiative, commitment, and innovation in carrying out their responsibilities and improving work flow
  • their work ethics, their attitude, and their individual productivity

Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews can provide your dental team and individual employees far more than a cursory overview of one person’s ability to carry out what they think are their responsibilities. They offer critical information that is essential in your efforts to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity, and staff. 

Moreover, study after study confirms that employees are far more likely to succeed if there is a solid system for performance measurements and review. As we’ve found in our own McKenzie Management research, dental employees seek to be challenged, to be given the opportunity to pursue innovative approaches in their work, to be appropriately rewarded for results, and, yes, to be held accountable.

Next week, three Ms that will make or break your practice. 

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Can You Hear Me Now?

A McKenzie Management Case Study

Dr. Sharon Stanley- Case Study #305

Dr. Stanley was more than willing to share with a consultant her struggles with the team as well as the team’s struggles with her…yes, she was willing to admit that she caused some of the stress in the office!  Dr. Stanley was concerned about “communication” in her practice.  She felt that everyone was running around like “chickens with their heads cut off” and “the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing”.

Physical statistics of interest:

  • 2 hygienists, 2 assistants, 2 front office employees
  • 5 treatment rooms
  • Doctor’s office and staff lounge
  • Light system for staff communication

Practice statistics of concern:

  • No job descriptions
  • No practice growth over past 2 years
  • Lack of staff enthusiasm and teamwork
  • Stress level steadily increasing

The team members shared:  “The doctor hangs around the front desk all the time asking me “dumb” questions about the schedule, why patients cancel and what am I doing.  It drives me crazy!”  These type of comments can not only mean there may be a lack of respect for the doctor but frustration by the team that does not understand why the doctor does not trust them. While these may be the by-product of the comment, as a consultant, you have to look deeper into the cause of the concerns.  These comments stemmed from lack of communication, training and not having a clear understanding of the expectation of the systems.  It could easily be corrected by the mere fact that if the team keeps the doctor busy doing dentistry, she won’t have time to be asking them questions.

After two days of observing Dr. Stanley’s daily routine with patients, it was easy to see some of the communication issues that she was concerned about:

  • A patient would sit in the reception area too long because no one remembered they were waiting
  • The doctor is needed in hygiene but no one can find her
  • The assistant needs a chart and can’t find it
  • Another hygienist’s spouse is on the phone and needs to know if she wants to have lunch with him
  • An assistant needs someone to help her with an impression

The list goes on and on.  What is sad is that all the employees are scurrying around the office trying to find someone to help them with their “challenge” and no one is actually attending to the patients and their needs.

Have you been to an Old Navy store recently?  They are one of many businesses now using, wireless headsets to very effectively communicate the employees’ needs to fellow employees in order to elicit assistance via 2-way radios.  Features such as vibrating call alert and hands-free push-to-talk microphone earpiece helps to improve communication and workflow. After the initial two-week complaining from the staff regarding change, listen to some of the comments from the doctors and team members…

  • Hygienist – It is so great to be able to tell the doctor when I am ready for my exam without having to interrupt my time with my patient
  • Assistant – It is helpful to be able to contact the other assistant when I forgot to put something on the tray
  • Schedule Coordinator – I can tell the hygienist when her patient calls to say that they are running 5 minutes late…and, of course, we all know that they really mean 15 minutes!
  • Financial Coordinator – After I get the credit approval, I just notify the assistant using the headset instead of having to run back there and tell her
  • Everyone – We can actually find the doctor to tell her that her next patient is seated and ready to go!

All these comments may seem trivial, but the office is q-u-I-e-t-e-r now.  Team members aren’t yelling instructions down the hall; the doctor is conducting her hygiene exams in a timely manner; patients aren’t waiting in the reception room because someone forgot to “turn the light on”, etc.  Now, EVERYONE knows what is going on in the office and this is vital in order for the practice to run smoothly and efficiently.

This is just one of many ways in which you can improve the communication level in your practice and your team can “hear you now”!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Are you Flexing Your Type?
Get fiscally fit!

You need strong communication skills to succeed in dentistry. Although this may seem obvious, most of us assume that those with whom we communicate will react the same way – what works for one person will be equally good for another.  WRONG!

If you think back to information exchanges you’ve had in the office, you will recognize that there are just some patients (and employees) who are easier for you to communicate with than others. Why is that?

There are numerous factors that influence the way we exchange information with people. One of the most subtle but important aspects is ‘type’. Based on the work of Carl Jung, psychological type is a well-respected way of classifying or categorizing different personality preferences.

Like four suits in a hand of cards, we each have a long suit and a short suit in what interests us and what we do well. The first “type” dimension is concerned with the two different ways people orient themselves to life, either as Extraverts or Introverts. Contrary to what most people may think when they hear the words “Extravert” and “Introvert,” this type dimension is really most concerned about people's energy - where they get it and where they direct it.

When I refer to a type or a preference, I’m not talking about a conscious choice, but rather an inborn tendency. Research suggests that a genetic factor contributes to our socializing preferences. Linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, it controls excitement levels and is vital for physical activity and motivation. Depending upon how much “buzz” you like in your life may be related to the level of dopamine you need to feel stimulated.

What energizes you the most:

  • Interacting with other people?
  • Being by myself?

Where do you like to focus your energy:

  • In the outer world of people and things?
  • In the inner world of ideas and thoughts?

Extraverts are externally oriented. They get energy from and focus their energy toward people and things outside of themselves. Introverts are more inwardly focused and directed. Because Extraverts are energized by being around people, they naturally seek out others more often than Introverts do. 

As with all of the type preferences, people with one preference often find it hard to understand and appreciate people of another. Most Extraverts have such a strong need to be around others, they have a hard time believing Introverts really do like spending that much time alone. Conversely, Introverts cannot understand why Extraverts need to use so much ‘air time’. 

If you are an introvert, it is likely that you come into the office each morning and head straight to your desk. Perhaps you even close the door. You want the quiet time to get organized and think through the day’s activities. But what message is that behavior communicating to your employees? I’ve heard from dental staff that they feel the doctor doesn’t care about them.

If you’re an extravert, you probably do a lot of talking when you enter the office. Perhaps you describe an interesting movie you saw over the weekend or even an odd experience that happened to you that morning. You may ask your staff lots of questions, eager to engage in conversation. Friendly as those behaviors are, for quiet staff this verbosity can be over stimulating…and annoying.

The same goes for patients. Some need time to think and process the things you say. Others long for you to say more. There is no “right” way. That’s why it benefits you to learn to identify your natural preferences and observe those of others so you will know how to communicate.

The requirements of leadership sometimes pose a bigger challenge for the introvert. The primary shortcomings for shy, reserved people are generally around communication and accessibility. A thoughtful, introspective approach can be mistaken for aloofness and might discourage people from asking questions. That's not trivial; if you can't effectively communicate your mission and objectives, your practice will run adrift.  Introverted leaders need to get comfortable talking even if it seems like it’s already been said once.

For extraverted leaders the challenge is to listen more than talk. Learn to ask questions and pause. Extraverts need to get comfortable with silence.

It isn't necessary to undergo a personality transformation to be effective. You do need to find ways to manage your natural style – your ‘type’ - so that it works for you rather than against you. For communication to be successful, the person on the ‘“receiving” side (patient or employee) must understand your message and that is based on their preference.

Give yourself a work-out and flex your type. I promise that it will make you psychologically and fiscally fit!

To learn more about your communication preferences and the impact on your practice, contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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