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Want to Improve Your Practice? Start By Giving More Feedback
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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A strong dental team doesn’t just develop on its own. It starts with hiring the best people for every role and then giving them the training and tools they need to succeed – as well as continual feedback.

Offering feedback on a regular basis will help your team members grow. They’ll be more motivated to improve performance and excel in their roles, leading to enhanced practice efficiencies and increased productivity. Providing feedback can really lead to positive change, yet, for some reason, most dentists simply don’t think about it.

As the practice CEO, it’s your job to offer your team members guidance. They crave this guidance, and often feel lost without it. When you offer feedback, your employees know exactly what they’re doing right and where they can improve, which is important to their growth and overall performance.

Still not convinced you need to make feedback part of your daily routine? Read on.

Yearly performance reviews aren’t enough
Many dentists limit their feedback to yearly performance reviews. They use the time to discuss any issues that have come up and ways to fix them. If there haven’t been any problems, they simply say great job and tell team members to expect a small bump in pay before sending them on their way. Sorry, doctor, but that simply isn’t enough. This approach gives team members absolutely no reason to improve their performance. They earned that raise, after all, and have no idea what areas they can improve in (and I’m sure there are some). So instead of working toward excellence, they maintain the status quo.

Your team members aren’t mind readers
It’s easy to think your employees would know if you weren’t happy with their performance, but that isn’t the case. If you’re not telling them, your team members have no idea what you’re thinking. This can actually lead to low team morale, high turnover rates and even staff conflict.

If you offer team members the guidance they need, which includes job descriptions, training and feedback, they’ll be much happier to come to the office each day – and that will show in the way they interact with each other and your patients. They’ll know they work in a positive environment that fosters professional development. This not only helps make team members more productive, it also makes them more likely to stay loyal to your practice.

Subtle hints won’t get you very far
Instead of telling team members about problems they’ve noticed, some dentists I’ve worked with opt to drop subtle hints. This might come in the form of a passing comment during a staff meeting or sticky notes with vague messages, both of which leave team members confused rather than motivated to make positive change.

Let me give you an example of how this can be damaging. Let’s say a practice is having serious financial problems, and the dentist simply mentions that money is a little tight during a monthly meeting. He doesn’t say why or discuss ways to address this pretty big issue. The result? Team members have no idea how bad the situation really is or how they can help bring more money into the practice. Nothing changes and the practice continues to suffer.

What’s a better way to handle this situation? The dentist could have talked to the Financial Coordinator about increasing over-the-counter collections, sat down with the Patient Coordinator to discuss ways to get more patients on the schedule, or talked with the Scheduling Coordinator to make sure everyone was being scheduled to meet production goals. From there, team members could have made the necessary changes to bring more revenue into the practice.

Incorporating feedback
So when and where should you give team members feedback? I suggest you make it part of your daily routine. When you see team members doing something positive, let them know you noticed and that you appreciate the effort. On the other hand, when you see team members do something wrong, or if you have advice on how they can do something better, take them aside and let them know. This will motivate employees to continue behaviors that earn praise and improve in areas where they’ve received constructive criticism.

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen and grow your practice, giving your team members feedback is an easy way to do it. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the guidance and will be motivated to go above and beyond. They’ll also be more confident in their skills because they’ll know what areas they excel in as well as where they need to put in a little more work.

Along with offering feedback, make sure team members know exactly what their contributions mean to practice success. You’ll soon find your employees are happier, more efficient and more productive, and that will do wonders for your bottom line. 

Next week: 5 tips to help you turn feedback into practice growth

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Brand Experience Builds Loyal Patients
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” Whoever wrote that quote probably knew from experience what they were referencing. Everyone wants to be around positive people who make them feel good – and even more, make them feel hope for a better tomorrow

A few weeks ago I attended the California Dental Association meeting in San Francisco at the George Moscone Center. It was a very positive experience because it was organized and delivered perfectly by all who were involved, from registration to the courses offered. Everyone I spoke with helped with a smile and caring attitude. In my hand, I held a map and a book that had been prepared to assist me in all that I needed to know. But because I prefer human interaction, I asked people for directions and help. No one said, “Look in the book for that answer.”

I have attended the CDA meeting in Anaheim, California for years and have also had very positive experiences. Do I feel like going back to either location for their yearly conferences? Absolutely – and I am positive that I will again have the same wonderful experience. 

This is a perfect example of brand building. It is also the reason I choose the same chain of hotels for my stays when out of town. I can count on them to deliver the same standard of excellence. Dentists and dental practices are building a brand, whether they are tuned in or not. The interaction with patients or potential patients is demonstrated by everything that is designed to be a vehicle of patient encounter. Your signage, reception area, restroom, logo, business card, website and social media connections, etc. If you were going to dress yourself for success, wouldn’t you want every part of your visible body to radiate success? Would you wear flip flops with a black suit, or attend a networking event dressed like you just came from the beach? Probably not.

Stop for a minute and scrutinize everything a prospective patient will see or experience prior to their arrival at your practice. Are there old posters yellowing on the walls or old charts hanging from shelves behind the desk? When was the last time you painted? How is the phone being answered? What is being said to make a person want to choose your practice? Is your website up to date, or are there photos of staff members that quit two years ago? If the practice appears old and dated, your dentistry is probably the same in the eyes of the patient. 

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” This old Chinese proverb is relevant to every business, but so much more to dental practices. Attitude is everything. If your new patient greeting is a lackluster, “Hi, please fill out this paperwork and we will seat you soon”, this is not the first impression you want your patient to experience!

Why not consider, “Welcome to our practice (patient name), my name is Betty and I am the Business Coordinator. It is a pleasure to meet you. Did you have any problems finding our office or parking? If you would please take a moment to fill out this new patient form we will be happy to assist you. If you would like coffee, tea or water we have a beverage cart in the corner. The restroom is through this door down the hall. If I can be of service to you, please do not hesitate to ask.”

It takes only a few seconds to make a lasting impression.

Speaking to many office managers and front desk people at the CDA it became apparent that most practices still suffer from the same challenges: attracting more new patients, retaining patients and improving treatment acceptance. None of these people had their own business cards. All felt that they had a job, not a career. None felt vested in the practice because the doctor never listened to their suggestions. If this is considered “business as usual” in dentistry, then the results will be the same. 

If you want to build your brand to attract and keep patients who will feel confident buying your services and products, then you must make the changes. McKenzie Management is here to help with branding and building business systems to ensure the success of your practice. Reach out to McKenzie Management today for a better future for your office.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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