Staff Not Getting Along? Here's What It's Doing to Your Practice
You know everyone on your team is fed up with Mary. Truth be told, you’re not exactly happy with her, either. Not only does your Scheduling Coordinator stroll in late most days, she has your schedule completely out of whack. You’ve overheard your team members gossiping about Mary and complaining about her inability to put a schedule together, and you can feel the tension in the air when she walks into the practice, late for the morning huddle again.
Yes, you’ve noticed the conflict, but you’ve done nothing to fix it. Mary has been with your practice for years, and is practically family. You’d hate to hurt her feelings, so instead of sitting down with her to discuss the situation and look for a solution, you choose to ignore it and hope it magically goes away. Mary will start coming to work on time and scheduling to meet production goals, and your team will work in harmony once again.
I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but that just isn’t going to happen. If you’re experiencing this type of conflict in your practice, you can’t look the other way. Unless something is done to resolve the problem, the negative feelings will only continue to fester. Frustration from what initially may have been a misunderstanding or a minor annoyance will manifest into passive aggressive behavior. The gossip, the snide remarks and the eye rolling will get worse, and the damage this negativity brings to your team and your practice may be irreparable.
The fact is, team conflict costs you hours of lost production and thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year. Instead of working as a team toward common goals, staff members spend time gossiping, complaining and maybe even arguing. They’re unhappy with their work environment and don’t feel a connection to the practice, and that means they might start looking for a new job. I don’t have to tell you how much time and money it costs to hire a new employee, but if you don’t want to get involved with what you consider staff drama, there’s a good chance you’re going to be placing want ads very soon.
It’s also important to remember that conflict and negativity within your staff doesn’t just effect your team. It effects your patients too. Trust me, if you can feel the tension between your team members, so can your patients. Not only that, if your employees are unhappy, it’s going to impact the way they interact with patients. Customer service will suffer, as will the quality of the dentistry you and your team provide. And when that happens, you start losing patients. No one wants to entrust their care to a practice that gives off a negative vibe. Don’t believe me? If you’re experiencing conflict in your practice, look at your patient retention numbers. I bet they’re down.
As much as you may hate the thought of stepping in, you have to handle team conflict before it gets out of control. Your team members look to you for guidance. They may be afraid to deal with the matter head on, so they say nothing to the person who’s causing their frustration and instead turn to passive aggressive behavior that only serves to hurt the team and the practice. When you see this happening, you have to take responsibility and lead your team to a solution.
The truth is, you’re always going to have conflict in your practice. Your team members come to their roles with different personalities and different ways of doing things, and those differences may lead to misunderstandings and conflict within the team. But conflict doesn’t have to be crippling. If you take the time to deal with every situation that comes up, conflicts can be resolved quickly, before they damage team morale and practice revenues.
It probably doesn’t seem like it, especially if you’re dealing with a situation at your practice right now, but conflict can actually lead to positive change. That’s right. If Susan the Hygienist is frustrated with Mary the Scheduling Coordinator because she isn’t scheduling her to meet daily production goals, knowing this gives you the chance to sit down with Mary and come up with a solution. Maybe she simply needs more training, or guidance from you about how she should be scheduling everyone’s day. Once Mary has a better grasp of her role, she’ll start scheduling Susan properly, and that means an increase in production and your bottom line.
Conflict usually starts with a lack of direction and poor communication. Providing guidance and improving communication will help reduce conflict in your practice, and calmly dealing with problems will keep them from festering and eventually blowing up. If you need help, consider contacting me and taking our Conflict Competency Training. This assessment instrument deals with conflict behaviors in the workplace and can help you and your team members improve the way you respond to conflict.
Once you know how to conquer conflict, you’ll notice a huge change in your practice and probably even your stress level. So let’s stop the drama and create the practice you’ve always wanted, with happy team members, loyal patients and a growing bottom line.
Next week, 8 tips to help you conquer conflict in your practice
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub-Par Performance Equals a Not-for-Profit Practice
“We are not doing as well as we used to, but still we are doing okay.” Ask yourself, is okay alright with you? Take a look at what's happening. Change is on the wind and the dental practice of just 10 years ago is obsolete. Technology is demanding less error and more exact results. In the past, a practice could do okay with underperforming hygienists (“I am here to clean teeth, not promote dental services”), below average assistants (“I am here to assist, not communicate with the patient”), and poor customer service (“I am here to fill the schedule, not promote the practice”). The dental practice of now and of the future must incorporate a team that takes ownership of not only their job but the performance success of the entire practice. Just showing up and doing your job is no longer insurance against layoffs. The search for better employees who can help the practice to grow and not just survive are on the rise.
It is dismaying to still find dental practices using paper charts. Digitization rules the world of commerce. Dental software programs such as Dentrix and Eaglesoft make the management of patients, clinical/financial data and imaging safe, secure and easy to access for the practice, referring specialists, physicians and insurance companies. Many insurance companies will no longer even accept paper claims or attachments. Where does this leave those who are still on paper? Beginning in 2015 a new dental claim form, the ADA 2012, must be used to file claims, and new policies that require medical to be billed before dental will make it even more important to go digital.
The future holds much positive promise for practices who acknowledge change and develop a business plan to stay engaged and focused on practice improvement. Ask yourself if you are competing in the dental community based on the price of dentistry, or the value of dentistry. If price were the only driving force in our purchase decisions, how would cars like Mercedes ever sell when it is cheaper to buy a Honda? Or how would Starbucks ever achieve such profits when it is easier and cheaper to prepare coffee at home, the office or at 7-Eleven?
Many dentists fear corporate dentistry’s low prices or the competitor down the street who offers $700 porcelain crowns. There will always be consumers who buy value and service along with the product, and those who buy for price only. Your job as a dental practice in today’s world is to sell long-term value, customized products and great customer service. We cannot change the fact that there are people who just want cheap, but to compete by being the cheapest will result in sacrificing something of value. What are you willing to sacrifice to be cheap? Your salary? Quality staff? Office décor? New technology? Newer and better equipment? When done correctly, dentistry has long-term value by providing health benefits and aesthetic benefits. But if you are selling price alone, your patients will not know the value of your services.
A conversation with a dentist who spoke candidly about her relationship with her fees revealed that she feared losing patients if she raised her standard fees, yet most of her practice was managed care and network PPO. On top of very low fees she gave discounts to whoever asked for one. One day a new patient asked a question that jolted her awake. The patient wanted to know why the fees were so low. “Are you using substandard materials? Do you have experience making crowns?” Instead of appreciating the low fees, the patient questioned the value of the services being provided.
At McKenzie Management we stay current with the trends affecting our dental practices. We pass our knowledge on to you to make your practice the best it can be with our customized training programs, consulting services and management products. To make the best of 2015, call McKenzie Management today.
Insurance Payments ASAP
There are at least three methods of payment from insurance carriers that you submit claims to: direct deposit, paper checks in the mail, and debit card numbers. My payment of choice is the old fashioned paper check with an attached EOB. I have control over when the payments are posted and I don’t have to print the EOBs for my records. What holds up these payments from coming to your office? Let’s review the following reasons and recommendations to avoid these pitfalls.
Inaccurate Information: Patient and/or Insured
How will you know if the information is not accurate? In some cases, the software program you use will notify you of missing information. The clearinghouse that processes your electronic claims will also notify you if it catches inaccurate information (another reason to process claims electronically) OR you make a phone call to the carrier to inquire on the payment status of the claim. Their response will probably be, “We never received it” or “We have no record of it.” Either way, bad news!
Inaccurate Information: Treatment Procedures
Lack of Narratives to Describe Why Treatment Was Performed
Lack of Necessary Digital Attachments
For our McKenzie Management clients, we monitor the amount and the number of claims unpaid 60 days and over. The goal is to have zero! Yes, it is possible. To make it happen, however, you must start following-up at 15 days past due if the claim was processed electronically. If you wait until 30-45 days past due and discover that the claim was never received, the claim must be re-filed and it will not be paid by 60 days.
It takes time to stay on top of the unpaid claims. Insurance carriers don’t make money paying expeditiously. Some are governed by the Insurance Commissioner regarding the time spent processing the claim and some are not. Take it upon yourself to run the “Outstanding Claims Report” at the first of the month after the month is closed and then count how many claims you have to follow-up with that are 15 days and older. Divide the number of claims by the number of days that you work and this will equal the number of claims you need to contact each day. Remember to enter your follow-up notes in the Claim Status area for reference, should the claim remain unpaid the next month.
Run your Outstanding Claims Report for claims 60 days and over and see how many you have. You may be surprised!
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