How to Set New Team Members Up for Success
Building a strong team takes more than just hiring the right people – though that is an important element of practice success. Once you have the right people in place, you can’t expect them to magically start improving practice efficiencies and helping you grow your bottom line. For that to happen they need guidance from you, the practice CEO.
This is a mistake I see all the time. A dentist finally develops a hiring strategy and finds the perfect person to fill an open positon. This new hire has the right skill set and temperament to succeed, yet doesn’t meet expectations. Why? The dentist didn’t provide the new team member with any guidance.
No matter how talented or experienced your new hire may be, you can’t expect them to read your mind. This will only lead to frustration for you, the new employee, and everyone else in the practice. It might even be enough to send the latest addition to your team looking for a new job.
The good news is, you can take action now to ensure new hires meet and even exceed your expectations. I’ve put together a few tips to help you do just that.
Provide detailed job descriptions. I know, I know. Most dentists think job descriptions are a waste of time. I’m here to tell you they’re not. Detailed job descriptions outline the necessary skill set needed for each job and the tasks each role entails. They should include your expectations and provide clear performance measurements. Job descriptions serve as a road map to success for both new and current employees, and leave no doubt about who’s responsible for which tasks – preventing confusion and conflict among team members.
Hold team members accountable. When you hold team members accountable for certain systems, they’ll take ownership of those systems. They’ll look for ways to make their systems more efficient, which can ultimately help improve practice productivity and your bottom line. New team members will become more engaged in their roles if they know what they’re accountable for, making their job more fulfilling. And that, of course, will help keep them loyal to your practice.
Provide the necessary training. When dentists hire someone with 15 years of experience at another dental practice, they tend to expect that new team member to hit the ground running without any training. That’s a big mistake. The practice these employees came from has different systems and different expectations. New team members need to learn how you run your practice and what they can do to contribute to your practice’s success. And that, doctor, requires training.
Make sure new hires get the training they need to truly understand their role as well as your expectations. And I’m not talking about 10 or 15 minutes with the Office Manager to go over a few practice policies. I know you have a busy practice, but trust me, any time and money you spend on training will save you headaches and expenses down the road. The proper training and tools will make new team members more confident in their abilities, helping them excel in their roles while contributing to practice success.
Offer feedback. Team members, both old and new, crave feedback from you. They want to know what they’re doing right and how they can improve. I suggest you offer this type of feedback every day. Hear a team member scheduling a recall patient? Let that person know how important getting recall patients back on the schedule is to the practice and how much you appreciate the effort. This will motivate the new hire to contact and schedule even more recall patients, increasing practice productivity and revenues. Do the same when you see team members doing something wrong. Take them aside and let them know what the problem is and how they can improve. This type of feedback will go a long way in helping new team members grow, and that can only mean good things for your practice.
Hiring new team members is a stressful process for most dentists, and they’re often relieved when they finally find the right fit. You just have to remember the work doesn’t end there. To truly create a strong team, you need to offer new hires guidance, training and feedback. This will help them grow and excel as they contribute to your practice’s success.
Still not sure how to hire and train the right people? Don’t hesitate to give me a call. I’m happy to help.
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
Hold Up the Mirror and See Yourself as Others Do
You look in the mirror every day to check if your hair is in place, how your clothes fit, whether your make-up is right. Based on what you see, you might straighten your tie, reapply your lipstick, pass the comb through one more time. You want to be sure that you see yourself as others will see you.
When was the last time you stepped back and looked in the ‘leadership mirror’? Is your image of yourself as a leader consistent with how your employees see you? Do you reflect characteristics of vision, composure, integrity, empathy? Have you aligned your perceptions with your staff’s views?
To look in the mirror and ask for honest feedback takes confidence and courage. You risk seeing something negative about yourself. But the only way you can grow and learn is to challenge yourself to improve; to be successful requires continuous development. It means identifying your strengths – the things you do well and enjoy the most – and facing your limitations, your underdeveloped skills – the things you need to learn and/or do better.
More than any other single factor, YOU are the key to improving your practice production. Here are some guidelines to becoming a better leader.
Do a self-assessment. Ask 10 people who know you well these five questions:
1. What do I do well?
1. Definite Strengths – I do these easily and effectively. I am at my best.
First and foremost, celebrate your strengths. By recognizing your talents you foster the confidence and courage needed to persevere in your own development. Determine how and where you can leverage your strengths to develop your areas of weakness.
Balance your overused strengths. Think of your personality style like a radio dial. If the volume is too soft or too loud, the music isn’t as pleasant as when the audio is adjusted correctly. To be an effective leader you need the right style at the right time so it’s at the right level for your patients and your staff.
Identify your weaknesses. You will be more effective in your efforts if you prioritize and focus. Commit to modifying one or two behaviors. Set observable action steps to move you closer to your intended leadership goal. Share your plan with employees so they can continue to give you timely, honest feedback. Just like the training you would pursue to learn a new dental procedure or the use of a new product, leadership skills can be acquired with information and rehearsal.
Ask for help. Research indicates that employees are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to bosses who admit their shortcomings and strive to do something about it. Involve your staff in your plan. Get a mentor or a coach, someone who will challenge you as well as give you support. The potential to become a better leader is well within your capability!
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
Put Down Your Cell Phone!
All of us are reliant on our devices to a certain extent. It is sometimes difficult to remember the time when cell phones were used to make calls and little else. They were once large contraptions that resembled a hand-held vacuum cleaner and weighed about as much. The idea that this phone would evolve to take pictures and videos, keep track of our business and personal calendars and contacts, play music and movies, and link us to the internet was not on our radar; the idea that a person could carry such a phone in a back pocket seemed like a futuristic dream. Star Trek! Now, for people under the age of 30, a cell phone is part of their identity and connection to their friends. It is a reflection of who they are and what they think and do. For little children, their ease with this technology is amazing. Watch a child around age two with his parents’ cell phone and you will see a little person navigating complex games and applications.
Our phones have developed into a communication system that keeps us in touch locally and around the world. We can access streaming videos of situations happening in real time in Europe, while also leaving a text message for our teenagers to do their homework before leaving with their friends. Today the cell phone is a constant companion for many of us. We feel lost without our link to the outside world.
However, there is a serious downside to all of this. We see people sitting next to one another at restaurant tables, walking on the street or even driving in cars, who are not interacting with their surroundings but rather staring down at their screens. Recently a friend told me about a cruise she had taken around the Hawaiian Islands. Beauty surrounded them. There was so much to see and do. But she noticed that most of the time, the people around her (young and old alike) were missing much of it. They were looking at their screens. Texting someone. Updating Facebook. Looking down.
There is even concern now in orthopedic circles that a generation of young people are developing an abnormal spinal curvature due to constantly leaning forward and looking down!
What does this have to do with dentistry? There are two main issues.
1. Our patients are carrying their cell phones with them into the treatment room and are often distracted by notifications of texts, emails, and calls. They may have their devices right on their laps so as not to miss any messages, or they may have them in a coat pocket or purse, causing them alarm when they hear notifications and cannot get to them. They want to look at their screens or get up and get to their devices, disrupting their treatment.
If cell phones are disrupting your dental practice, it may be time to set up some guidelines to lessen their negative impact.
• At a staff meeting, have team members discuss what is going on with their cell phone usage. Rather than “issuing an edict” about how cell phones can be used at the office, have the staff come up with some suggestions. Before the meeting, prepare some concrete examples of when staff usage of a cell phone interrupted their work and disrupted the office. Examples are more effective than simply saying, “You are using your phones too much.”
A suggestion might be to have all staff use phones only during breaks and lunch hours, unless there is an emergency – and be sure to define “emergency”. In particular, clinical staff could eliminate phone usage while a patient is in the chair, meaning no texting or checking screens. Clerical staff could eliminate the same when patients are at the front desk. The important thing is to set up some rules that everyone understands. Simply telling staff that they cannot use their cell phones during work hours will likely not be very successful. Working moms often want to be sure their children are home from school safely, etc.
• Come up with verbiage to let patients know that cell phone usage must be curtailed during treatment. For example, the hygienist may say, “Mrs. Patient, are you expecting any calls or texts in the next hour? If not, may I ask you to please turn your phone off during our appointment? I don’t want you to be distracted while being treated.”
Typically patients will comply, and the appointment will run more smoothly.
Our phones are a deeply integral part of our lives now; as is dealing with their interruptions. Setting up some guidelines for their use in the dental office is important. After all, we can’t have our patients playing Pokémon Go while we are trying to perform their dental treatment!
Carol Tekavec 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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