Turn Feedback into Profits
It is the interesting irony of many dental practices. Employees do not give each other feedback because they fear that they will cause conflict. They don’t communicate frustrations or irritations because they want to go along to get along. This is, as Dr. Nancy Haller describes it, the double-edged sword of politeness. In the McKenzie Management educational DVD You Said What? Mastering Communication, Dr. Haller discusses the importance of giving feedback to each other through open and honest communication. She notes that employees who are overly polite to the point where they will not address issues that need to be dealt with are, in actuality, being dishonest. They are engaging in destructive passive aggressive behaviors, which creates conflict.
A system of effective feedback is much like a system of proper oral health care. Specific steps must be taken daily to ensure the health and vitality of the group. For example, verbal feedback can be given at any time, but it is most effective at the moment the employee is engaging in the behavior that you either want to praise or correct. If “Abby” at the front desk managed to expertly convince the ever-difficult “Mr. Denney” to keep the crown appointment that he wanted to cancel at the last minute, tell her! And do so publicly. Similarly, if her handling of a situation is not consistent with practice goals and objectives, explain to her constructively how you would like for her to address similar situations in the future. And do so privately. Positive feedback and pats on the back should be given publicly. Constructive criticism should be given privately.
Choosing to avoid opportunities to give employees feedback is like choosing to help them to fail. That being said, this street runs both ways and employees must be willing to accept feedback and take action on it. In reality, if employees are open to it, feedback is all around them from colleagues and patients. The key is to take the feedback and turn it into positive action.
Consider 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? Instead, 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.
The best way to become comfortable in receiving and acting on feedback is to ask for it. We are incapable of seeing ourselves as others see us, which is why being open to feedback is essential in achieving our greatest 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 discuss the problem when you are both calmer and can respond wisely rather than emotionally.
Thank 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. 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, Laura the assistant is very frustrated because she feels that business employee Betsy is unnecessarily interrupting the clinical team when they are with patients. Betsy feels that Laura is trivializing her need for clear information. Instead of lashing out, Betsy decides to ask for examples and listens to Laura’s perception of the interruptions. She thanks Laura 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. Betsy 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 situations in the future.
Don’t 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.
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What Do You Look For In A Hygienist?
There are many good hygienists in the world with excellent clinical skills. However, that is not all that an exceptional hygienist needs to have. Whether you are looking to hire your first hygienist, an additional hygienist because your practice is growing, or you need to replace the hygienist that is leaving your practice, here are some things to take into consideration.
What personality types do you currently have working on your team and what personality will fit in best? There is no “perfect personality” when it comes to a hygienist. However, some personalities will come with the traits that enable a hygienist to perform his/her position with less energy, thus making the hygienist less tired by the end of the day. These traits are:
How do you find out if a person has these traits? Based on the Myers Briggs Temperament Type, each job position in dentistry, business, clinical, and hygiene is discussed in the book, Personality Types, How They Affect Your Practice Success.
We also offer online employee testing that was developed exclusively for dentistry and strictly adheres to legal guidelines for pre-employment testing. These test results are compared to top performers in existing dental practices. By having the candidate/employee answer 107 questions online, we can tell you how close the candidate or existing employee matches peak performers in their job description.
In addition to all of the above, asking quality interview questions and having a good application and an extremely complete written job description at your side is imperative.
When the candidate first shows up, allow time for them to fill out your application and read the job description they are applying for. Handing the job description to the candidate and giving them time to read it before the interview even begins may make a difference in the entire interview. They may know before the interview even starts if they are willing to fulfill and perform the duties of the job description. The candidate may not be willing to do a prophylaxis or root planing in the time allotted by your office policy.
Looking for a hygienist who is not only committed to the patients but also to the practice is very important. This may be seen on the application or resume. How often has the candidate changed from one practice to another? The first few years out of hygiene school, they may be changing positions because they are looking for a team that practices at the standard of care that they do. Once a hygienist finds that, s/he may end up being a very long-term employee. However, watch for the person that changes practices regularly the entire length of their career.
As we all know, hiring the wrong person can cost you money and possibly long term patients. If you are relying on interviews and resumes only, you are doing yourself a disservice. There is a lot that goes into hiring the peak performers you want to work with your team.
Gather the Fruits of Integrity: Be a Winner not a Weiner
The fallout from Rep. Anthony Weiner’s ‘sexting’ scandal continues. At the time this article was written, he had not yet resigned from Congress, but the damage he has caused himself seems beyond repair - at least for his political career. Would you trust him? Would he be able to influence you? Would you vote for him?The first ‘fruit’ of integrity is trust. Trust is not a right. It's a privilege, and it must be earned every day. Unfortunately, trust earned over a period of years can be lost in a few seconds. A poor choice of words or a thoughtless act is all that it takes to lose trust. The second ‘fruit’ of integrity is influence. Integrity creates reputation and sparks imitation. Without it you will lack the ability to influence people or situations. As the dental leader, your ability to influence your staff and your patients is directly correlated with your behavior. Patients and employees watch you. You are the role model who sets the standard for office behavior. The degree of influence comes from what people experience and see in you each day. It comes by example and is often witnessed.
If you want to build an excellent organization, be a team-building winner by doing the right thing even when no one else is looking. Trust is the foundation for teamwork. Like a good relationship, trust on a team is never complete; it must be maintained and nurtured. And the degree to which your patients and employees trust you impacts the overall success of your practice. Values determine your actions, which ultimately determine your influence.
I guarantee that you will not get top performance out of any employee who does not trust you. If they don't trust you to make the best decisions AND trust you to look out for their best interests, your staff will feel that they have to do it themselves. The time they spend looking out for #1 erodes team cohesion, decreases productivity, and reduces the quality of patient care.
The good news is that your staff doesn’t expect you to be perfect. In fact, most people are very forgiving, if you show a sincere interest in their needs and their success. To earn your employees' trust and improve your sphere of influence:
The third fruit of integrity is repeat business. Acting with integrity almost always translates into more business from satisfied patients, their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and on and on. Each of us, as we go about our daily lives, has opportunity after opportunity to make the right choice. Be deliberate about the things you do and say.
Let who you say you are be reflected in all that you do. Stay consistent. Don’t take short cuts. Your actions reflect what you stand for. For example, if you say you stand for great patient service but you don’t call your patients back in a timely manner or go above and beyond to address their concerns, then you really don’t stand for great customer service. Evaluate your actions. Be a person of integrity and of values.
If you want to strengthen leadership and teamwork in your office, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact her at email@example.com
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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