Promoting from Within May Leave You Without
Certainly, there is a lot to be said for promoting from within. After all, you have an idea of the type of employee you are getting for the position. You have some understanding of her/his strengths and weaknesses. Presumably, this person knows the business, the patients, fellow staff, etc. What’s more, promoting from within can be an effective means of rewarding a staff member’s hard work and commitment to the practice.
However, it can also create problems, particularly in smaller dental practices, and especially if the internal promotion is to the position of office manager. Let me explain. For example, let’s say you have the very hard working and dedicated “Cari” on your staff. She is good at what she does, and always seems eager to take on new challenges. She understands the idiosyncrasies of the office, the staff, and the patients. The practice is growing and you believe the time is right to create the position of office manager. You naturally assume that Cari has the necessary qualities to take the job and run with it. You believe that because she is good at tasks “A” and “B,” she will also be good at “C” and “D.”
It’s a common error known as the “halo effect.” The problem is that the position of office manager requires a significantly different set of skills and a much higher competency level than what Cari has been expected to deliver up until now. The unfortunate fact is that good dental office employees don’t necessarily make the transition to good dental office managers. And anyone who has managed staff for any length of time has likely discovered that to be true.
But why don’t good employees seamlessly shift to higher level positions? After all, they have the potential, which is why they are considered in the first place. There are a host of reasons. In the case of Cari, she is given the title and the responsibility, but she struggles to effectively carry out the additional duties of the position. She finds it difficult to discipline former colleagues who are now subordinates. She feels insecure and unsure in exercising authority. She is unclear about how the doctor wants her to handle certain practice and employee policies, but she is afraid to ask for fear that the doctor will think she doesn’t know what she’s doing - because, well, she doesn’t.
It is not uncommon for employees like Cari to eventually leave the job, be let go, or be restructured out of the position. In the end, what should have been and could have been a rewarding and beneficial experience becomes demoralizing and frustrating for the employee, not to mention expensive for the doctor.
How do you prevent a costly employee failure? In most cases, the individual must overcome numerous hurdles that neither the doctor nor the employee anticipate or plan for. Most commonly when promoted to the position of office manager, existing employees are given little guidance and even less training. Too often doctors assume that “good” employees can simply figure out what it means to be an office manager. And frankly, most doctors don’t know what constitutes a “good” office manager, making it all the more challenging for them to help an employee succeed in the position. While the newly anointed office manager may get a nice title and a nicer paycheck, what is often in short supply is a clear job description. Too few doctors think carefully about the duties they expect the office manager to carry out, and even fewer ever consider the skill set necessary for these individuals to effectively perform their managerial duties.
That being said, I readily acknowledge that writing a job description for the position of office manager is no small challenge. Although the McKenzie Management website provides links to job descriptions for multiple positions in the practice, including scheduling coordinator, treatment coordinator, financial coordinator, patient coordinator, etc. - there isn’t one for an office manager. Why? Because different doctors interpret this position quite differently - and often incorrectly.
The majority of dental practice “office managers” answer phones, make appointments, construct financial arrangements, etc. These are the responsibilities of a front office employee or a business coordinator. Certainly, an office manager will step in and perform these duties when necessary as well. But the role stretches well beyond these tasks.
Next week, make the most of your office manager.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Letís Review Performance Reviews
Most dentists surveyed detest doing performance reviews, even though they see the intended value to the practice. Performance reviews are recommended every 6 months to minimum one year after the employee is hired. The main reason for the review is to acknowledge the employee’s efforts and results of their work in terms of their participation in practice success. The other important reason is to make suggestions for improvement of job performance and to review the job description for additions, deletions or modifications. A performance review can be simple or can be very complex, with measurements of the systems for which this particular employee is responsible. McKenzie Management has a book offered on our website called Performance Measurements to assist you in the task of measuring the entire list of business systems.
A performance review is not a salary review. A performance review would be completed prior to a salary review on a separate date. If improvements to job performance are necessary before a raise in salary, then this needs to be communicated to team members. The practice must be profitable and showing growth before salaries are raised. If you have a stellar performer who really goes over and above what is expected and has proven results, then a one-time bonus could be a reward versus a raise if the overhead does not warrant taking on any more salary expenses at the time. The following is a simple performance review that addresses the facts in an orderly fashion and encourages improvement of job performance.
Performance Review for: _______________________. List the employee’s: Position, hire date, today’s date, witness name, witness position, facilitator nameGeneral
I have had a performance review on the above date and agree to follow the recommendations for improving my job performance.
Signature of Employee/Date, Signature of Facilitator/Date, Signature of Witness/Date
The best performance reviews that you can give are daily feedback of the great, the good, the bad and the ugly. Waiting to drop the 6-12 month bomb can cause undue pressure and stress for both the dentist/manager and the employee. A formal performance review is a necessary component of an employee’s file and is written proof of communicating job performance issues, should that be a legal issue in the future. But what is best for the overall practice condition should be a daily concern and should be addressed as the situations arise. Giving people feedback that is good, along with guidance and support, sends a message that feedback is not just about the negative and thus improves the working relationships of all involved.
Before offering feedback, say to yourself: What do I want for the practice? What do I want for the relationship with this person? Think of saying something like: “I care about you and I want you to be able to achieve the results that are important to you, and I want to be able to get my results too.”
The other homework you need to do before a feedback session is gather facts so you can provide substantive evidence of the points you want to make. Take a calendar or use your electronic device to write notes or record audio notes including dates and circumstances related to the review of the employee. Making generalizations without dates and details to illustrate your points can make you look abusive and can put the employee on a defensive attack.
Want professional training in this delicate system? Call McKenzie Management today for Dental Business Training Courses.
Are Vision & Mission Statements Really Worth It?
In speaking with thousands of dentists over the years I have often heard: “Why should I create a vision and mission statement?” I also have heard: “I’m not a visionary person, so I don’t see any sense in it.” Well, I am a true testimonial of why you should create a vision and a mission statement. Having consulted in hundreds of practices I can tell you that the offices who actually take the time to write a vision and mission statement and declare it together as a team are more likely to reach MOST of their goals than offices that simply “wing it.”
Don’t get me wrong, creating a vision and mission statement for your personal life or business is WORK! But it is so worth it when you see your vision and experience your mission come true. First you must understand the difference between the two. According to businessdictionary.com they are defined as the following, which I think are great definitions:
Vision Statement: An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
Mission Statement: A written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.
A mission is different from a vision in that the former is the cause and the latter is the effect; a mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued for that accomplishment. Visions are the foundation. It is your definition of ideal, making your internal values external. It is expressing your values through living in integrity. It is what you see when you look into the future. You begin by asking yourself, what will I look like? How will I act?
Start today to create a vision for your profession, practice, and personally. When describing your personal and professional vision, use “I” language to describe how your ideal self, ideal clinical skills, and continuing education would be achieved or accomplished. When describing your practice vision use “We” language to describe your ideal practice, quality, attributes of team, environment and experiences (broken down by you, your team and patients).
The limits of vision is a “your horizon” view - 5 years out, your world as it will be. Beyond that is the big dream too far off to see until you reach this horizon. What about right now? You can’t focus on today with just a “horizon” view. Even the clearest vision is still a concept and needs a mission to make it concrete.
Your values are what you feel internally, what you think, your sense of what’s right. Vision is how you express it externally. It is what you say; your definition of ideal and mission makes it real. It is what you do, stated tangibly, measurable definition and updated annually.
Anatomy of a Mission
This goal was specific with JFK. It was not “explore space” it was “landing a man on the moon!” Time was specific, not “in the future” but “before this decade is out.” Making a vision tangible means establishing an unconditional commitment, stated publicly, and making sure you are holding yourself and others fully accountability and inspiring others to commit. Making your vision and mission a reality is exhilarating. Go ahead, see what results you can achieve in 2013. Remember: NASA didn’t launch space “visions.”
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