Your Employees Expect More than a Paycheck
Occasionally on Sunday evenings, I catch the show Undercover Boss. The program plucks a CEO from the corner office of a major corporation and drops him/her on the frontlines of the company, shoulder-to-shoulder with rank and file hourly employees. This season, execs from DIRECTTV, Frontier Airlines, and Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. all had eye-opening experiences that not only taught them about how systems in each company could be improved to benefit both customers and employees, but also about the many dedicated staff they have representing the corporate brand. At the end of the show, the CEO is revealed to the unsuspecting employees, and s/he recognizes the efforts of particular staff members.
No doubt, this is feel good TV at its best, but it’s also a reminder to employers that most employees want to do well. They care about the job they are performing, and while they may not expect much, a little bit of recognition would go a long way. Although I believe that recognizing good work and quality staff is something that should take place regularly, there is no better time than the Holidays to get your recognition efforts rolling.
The 2010 Holiday Season is right around the corner, and for many dentists, it’s panic time. You don’t have the deep pockets of corporate America. How will you recognize and thank your team for a job well done? I can hear many of you now… In this economy, isn’t a paycheck enough? Production and collections are down, how can I afford gifts and parties? This year, couldn’t I just say “thank you” and call it a day?
Unquestionably, budgets are tight for small businesses such as dental offices, as well as large employers, but it’s no excuse for not taking the time to thank and recognize your team. No matter what the economic whims of the day may be, recognition and acknowledgement of a job well done is essential in retaining valued employees. They don’t have to be excessive or expensive. In fact, the recognition trends in corporate America today are very similar to what I’ve been urging practice owners to do for years – focus greater attention on nonfinancial rewards and customizing recognition for employees. As I have said many times, there is no substitute for a sincere, heartfelt “thank you” – and not just once a year. There are multitudes of fun and unique ways this can be accomplished.
Create a budget for the year, and determine how much you will spend each month recognizing/thanking individual members of your team. For example, the Everett Clinic in Washington gives out what it calls HeroGrams for exceptional accomplishment. Based on the number of HeroGrams employees receive, they can win such prizes as gift cards and paid days off. Employees also receive instant praise with Caught in the Act cards, which are used in monthly prize drawings. In an effort to focus greater attention on excellence in customer service, this year the clinic instituted Pat on the Back cards and highlighted a different customer service skill each month.
Each of those examples could be modified to fit the dental practice and be part of an ongoing recognition program in your office that would energize and engage the team, keep them focused on delivering their very best each day, and foster an environment of success.
You could also create your own recognition “tool kit” that you keep on hand in your office. This might include a variety of $5 gift cards to the sandwich shop or the coffee shop down the street, movie money for two, a small box of favorite chocolates. Hand these out as part of your “on-the-spot recognition program” with a personal note from you each time a member of your team does something that deserves recognition - whether it’s keeping their cool with a difficult patient, consistently giving a warm welcome to patients even when they are having a bad day, stepping in and doing what needs to be done even if it’s not “their job,” and the list goes on. The note need not be lengthy, a simple “Thank you very much for your daily commitment to excellence and especially for calmly helping Mrs. Jones to resolve her payment concerns” or whatever the action is that the employee performed that deserves acknowledgement.
Regularly change it up, so that the methods of recognition don’t become too predictable or seemingly routine. The experience should be meaningful to the employee and to you, the doctor.
Marketing a dental practice can take many forms. Social media and the use of the internet are becoming more important every day. Dentists know that they need a website, but deciding what that website should contain can be tricky. Should it be personal or simply professional? Should it show photos of staff or just the dentist? What should be placed on the site once the name, address, dentist degrees, board certifications, and services offered are listed? What might make a potential patient look through the site long enough to make the decision to contact the dentist?
The answer is “content.” It is essential that your website provide something of interest for your readers to see when they click through. If your site is more like a yellow-pages listing than a source of education and information, readers will quickly lose interest and go elsewhere. So what can you do? Coming up with a website can be accomplished on your own, or professional designers can be enlisted. However, even with a professional designer, many decisions concerning what will be shown on your site will likely be yours alone. Designers can help you set up and teach you how to maintain your site, but you will probably have to provide the information that will be included within. It is known that “content” can be key to capturing and retaining the attention of readers, and this attention can translate into new patients for the practice.
There are two important rules when putting together a website full of good “content”
If you are creating content yourself, put yourself in your patient’s shoes. What kinds of questions do your existing patients frequently ask you? What do people in your community talk about when you see them at the football game or the grocery store? When a new patient meets you for the first time, what does he say is the reason he chose you? The answers to these questions can help you focus on what types of articles might be of interest to your readers.
Your experiences can also make compelling reading. Are you involved in providing special services to the community? A story about what you’ve done makes for great “content.” Have you worked with special needs patients or provided care at a recent free dental care event? Write about what happened at the event. Would you like your readers to know more about certain procedures that you perform? Write about veneers, implants, non-surgical perio treatment or other services you provide. Do your patients often ask you about commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes? Write an article discussing what is in most toothpastes and mouthwashes and how the ingredients work. Do your patients wonder why you take x-rays? Write an article about the purpose and need for radiographs and why you take them when treating your patients.
Keep in mind that writing for a website is different than writing for a print publication. It is suggested that you use short sentences, simple words, and bullet points or numbering to set off sections or paragraphs. Articles should also get to the point and not be too long. Spelling and grammar are important. While mistakes can always slip through the most meticulous proof-reading, these mistakes must be few in order for your site to maintain credibility.
If you are creating content yourself, you also must put in the time to actually write the articles. Writing can be very time consuming, and since updated information is a must, it will be an on-going activity. Remember, readers lose interest quickly and are looking to your site to keep them informed. “Stale” information on your site can make you look out-of-touch.
A website can be a true practice builder, but if it is not kept up, it can make a practice look dated and behind the times. Content can be the key to making your website attractive and informative, and it can be the reason a patient decides to make an appointment with you rather than the dentist down the street.
Carol has authored 10 “ready to use” articles for your web-site. For more information GO HERE.
Carol Tekavec CDA RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com
Carol is also a speaker on dental records, insurance coding and billing, patient communication and hygiene efficiency for McKenzie Management. Interested in having Carol speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress
The latest annual nationwide survey on stress by the American Psychological Association has been released. Since 2006 the APA commissioned this survey as part of its Mind/Body Health campaign. According to the 2010 report, we are an overstressed nation. Survey findings have consistently shown that the majority of Americans are living with moderate (4 – 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means you have little or no stress and 10 means you have a great deal of stress) or high (8 – 10 on a scale of 1 to 10) levels of stress. And while they understand that this is not healthy, they’re stymied in their efforts to make changes.
Adults seem to understand the importance of eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise, but they are often unsuccessful in practicing these healthy behaviors. The reasons stem from “being too busy” - a major barrier, to “a lack of motivation, energy and time.” This year more adults are dissatisfied with the ways that their employer helps them to balance work and non-work demands. In general, concern about job stability is on the rise.
Are You Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress?
Stress is your body’s natural reaction to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. In small doses, stress is good - such as when it helps you conquer a fear or gives extra endurance and motivation to get something done. But there’s also bad stress, which is often caused by worries such as money, work, relationships, or health - whether it be sudden and short or long-lasting. Feeling stress for too long, whether for several hours, days or months, sets off your body’s warning system of physical and emotional alarms.
Your body’s stress warning signs tell you that that something isn’t right. Much like the glowing orange “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard, if you neglect the alerts sent out by your body, you could have a major engine malfunction. Stress that is left unchecked or poorly managed is known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and suicide.
So when things aren’t going your way, or you feel like you are losing control or are overwhelmed, pay attention to the warning signs listed below. They are just some of the ways that your body is telling you it needs maintenance and extra care.
Everyone reacts to stress differently, and each body sends out its different set of red flags. Some people may not even feel the physical or emotional warning signs until hours or days of stressful activities. But when you do notice a stiff back or that you are snapping at your employees, pay attention to the signs and listen to what your body is telling you. While the adrenaline rush after acing that complicated procedure is something to enjoy, the warning signs of stress are not anything to take lightly or ignore. By noticing how you respond to stress, you can manage it better and in healthy ways, which will help your body correct itself, reducing the high cost and care of chronic, long-term health problems…for you and for your team.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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