6 Tips to Build a Better Team
All too often, team members hold a practice back rather than help it reach its full potential. Maybe it’s because they’re not confident in their skills, or they don’t really have as much experience as they indicated on their resume. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: your days become more stressful while practice productivity and profits take a hit.
Finding and keeping the best and brightest team members really is critical to your success, yet many dentists still rush through the hiring process. They want to fill open positions as soon as possible, but typically that just leads to bad hires who cost time and money. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to help you build a better team of employees who are willing and able to help you meet your goals. Here are my six tips:
1. Embrace your role as practice CEO. I know most dentists resist this title, but you really must take your leadership role seriously if you want your practice to thrive. That means providing team members with the direction they need to excel in their roles, including giving them detailed job descriptions, offering proper training and providing continual feedback. You’ll not only have a more efficient team, you’ll create a better atmosphere for your employees as well as your patients.
2. Develop a hiring process. Most dentists want to get hiring over with as soon as possible, but that could end up doing your practice more harm than good. I suggest you develop a process to help ensure you bring smart, qualified people on board. That process should include placing ads that provide all the pertinent job details, creating and distributing job descriptions so applicants know exactly what you’re looking for, properly reviewing resumes, conducting telephone interviews, asking the right questions during face-to-face interviews, and checking references before making job offers.
Once you have a hiring process in place, you’ll start attracting the most qualified candidates to your practice. If you give them the training and tools they need to succeed, these team members will help you meet and even exceed your practice goals.
3. Start training your team members to think like CEOs. What does that mean? It’s simple, really. Make sure all of your employees understand how their contributions translate into practice success. Encourage them to take ownership of their systems and look for ways to improve efficiencies. Let them know you value their opinions and they’re not just another cog in the wheel. When they understand just how important they are to the practice, they’ll be more motivated to excel.
-What would you do if you were me?
4. Create a positive working environment. If team members are unhappy, it will show in their performance and how they interact with patients. To keep them happy, I suggest you do your best to create a positive, collaborative environment in your practice. Let team members know they can come to you with problems, and that you’re always open to hearing their ideas. Consider offering them opportunities to receive offsite training to enhance their skills, and ask for their input when purchasing products they use each day. And if you ever notice conflict brewing between team members, talk to the employees involved and work with them to find a solution. This will all go a long way in creating an environment that makes employees look forward to coming to work each day.
5. Motivate them to excel. If they receive raises every year no matter what, team members have no reason to improve their performance. I suggest you change that, and only give out raises when they’ve been earned. Make your expectations and performance measurements clear, and let team members know under what circumstances raises will be discussed and how they’ll be given. Employees will have goals to work toward, making them more productive and more effective in their roles.
6. Don’t keep bad hires. Sometimes, no matter what you do, a team member just isn’t going to work out. If you find that’s the case after providing proper training and guidance, it might be time to consider letting that employee go. I know it can be difficult, but if you go through the proper process, your practice will be much better off in the long run.
The stronger your team, the more profitable your practice will be. Follow these tips to build a better team and grow a healthier bottom line.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Dental Treatment Changes Lives
She was a young woman, 32 years old, with a baby girl in a carrier next to her on the chair in the reception area. She was very thin with short dark hair that seemed to accentuate the dark circles under her eyes. The baby was well dressed and looked lovingly cared for; she was chubby and happy and noisily sucking on a little pink pacifier. The young woman was dressed simply in jeans and sneakers and a dark, long sleeved shirt. She told me she had been referred by a friend of her mother’s and that she had not had any dental care since she was a young child. She was concerned because several of her lower front teeth felt loose. She was terrified of losing teeth and explained that both her parents had false teeth and they were just in their mid-50’s. She wanted my assurance that this would not happen to her.
Her medical history revealed that she took no medications and had no serious illnesses. She explained that she was just so tired all the time. She had the little girl and worked a graveyard shift at a local hospital as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. She and another CNA took turns babysitting their children as neither one could afford child care.
I escorted her to my treatment room and brought in a clean mat so the baby carrier could sit on the floor next to the treatment chair. When “Clare” (names have been changed) opened her mouth, I was very sorry to see that she had obvious serious periodontal disease. Her tissues were swollen, red, and some exudate was visible. Generally her probing depths were 5-6mm. Her mandibular central incisors were, in fact, loose and touching them caused her real pain. She also had visible decay on some anterior and posterior teeth. She was in dire need of dental care.
I could see she was a candidate for scaling and root planing, and possible later referral to a periodontist. Some of her decayed areas would also need to be addressed as soon as possible. After the doctor examined her, we made a plan. Only the most severely decayed teeth would be restored right now with scaling and root planing to begin immediately. I began to explain our plan to Clare, and as I did she started to cry. She told me she could never afford to have all of this treatment done, and understood that what I was talking about was only the beginning. I told her we would figure out a way to get her the care she needed and I focused on explaining the scaling and root planing that I would be performing at her next appointment. She scheduled to return the following day.
Our Treatment Coordinator discovered that Clare had a bare bones dental insurance plan through the hospital, but it would help. She also put her in touch with our local credit union which provided interest free financing for one year to help pay for her treatment. Clare came in for her appointment and I performed local anesthesia, scaling and root planing, and gave her extensive training in home care to include sulcular brushing, dental floss, and rubber tip stimulator. We talked about her diet and she said she snacked when she got tired at work. I told her no more soda pop, candy, or sugar gum; instead she would start bringing tea, pretzels, fruit and peanut butter. Our doc performed her initial restorations, I completed her scaling and root planing appointments, and we scheduled a re-check in one month.
When Clare came back for her re-check, I was so happy to see she had followed through with her home care routine and diet changes. Her tissues had returned to normal color and consistency, and the mandibular incisors had tightened considerably. Periodontal probing revealed that tissue shrinkage of 1-2mm had occurred throughout her mouth. No exudate. She told me she was feeling much better generally, and could not believe how much her oral condition had been affecting her overall health.
Fast forward to one year later. Clare has been able to find a way to complete all of her restorative treatment and has been coming in for periodontal maintenance with me every three months. I will keep her on a three-month schedule for the foreseeable future. She is devoted to her home care routine and told me she has improved her diet, not just at work, but at home as well. She trades off with a friend for childcare now once a week to take some time for herself. The dark circles under her eyes are gone. She has put on about five pounds and looks much healthier. Her lower anterior teeth have almost completely tightened, but will still be a concern as the bone loss she experienced there has taken a toll. We have a plan to address these teeth if their condition worsens. Meanwhile the too thin, exhausted, sad, and unhealthy young woman has changed her life. She started with her teeth, and we were able to help her.
Dentistry changes lives, and we see it every day. It is great to be a part of such a wonderful profession.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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