Clear Expectations Will Lead to Practice Success

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

A strong team is vital to practice success, making it pretty frustrating when yours isn’t meeting expectations. Production and revenues suffer, leading to extra stress for everyone in the practice. You’re unhappy and so are your team members, which creates a negative environment that does nothing to improve efficiencies or move your practice forward.

But have you ever stopped to think about why team members aren’t meeting expectations? It could very well be because you haven’t told them what those expectations are. If they’re not given any direction from you, the practice CEO, they’ll feel lost with no goals to work toward and no idea how they can contribute to practice success.

Many dentists expect team members to automatically know what to do, especially if they have experience working in a dental practice. But, as nice as it would be, they’re not mind readers. They need guidance. Without it, they will struggle, no matter how talented or experienced they are.

Your team members want to excel in their roles, but they can’t do that without help from you. How can you provide that help? First, communicate. Tell team members what your expectations are and then develop a well-defined strategy to measure employee performance. Trust me, if you make your expectations clear and give your team members the tools they need to succeed, your practice will thrive.

Need help getting started? Here’s my advice:

Develop job descriptions. I know. I know. You probably think job descriptions are a waste of time. I’m here to convince you otherwise. Job descriptions serve as a roadmap to success. They outline exactly what tasks team members need to complete each day and make your expectations clear. Team members no longer have to guess what they should be doing. They know who’s responsible for what.

So, what should you include in your job descriptions? I suggest job title, specific duties and responsibilities, necessary skillset and your expectations. It’s also important to be specific. Don’t just list reaching out to past due patients as one of your Patient Coordinator’s tasks, for example. Include how many patients this employee should contact each day and how many you expect to see on the schedule. This gives the employee a specific goal to work toward. You might try my job descriptions to start as a template. Go here

Here’s another tip. When creating job descriptions, don’t overlap duties. You might think this is helpful, but it isn’t. It only leads to confusion about who is actually responsible for those tasks, bringing the potential for conflict to your practice. There’s no accountability, and that isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

So how can you ensure tasks are covered when team members aren’t in the office? Cross-train. Cross-trained employees can easily fill in when needed, while everyone still knows who is ultimately accountable for each system.

Don’t forget, what gets measured gets done. That’s right. If team members know their performance is being measured, they’ll be more motivated to meet the goals you’ve set. Here are the key areas your employee performance appraisal instrument should evaluate:

-Their ability to follow instructions
-Their willingness to help and cooperate with others
-Their initiative and commitment to carrying out responsibilities and improving workflow
-The number of errors in their work
-Their work ethic, attitude and productivity level

This type of evaluation method will help keep team members focused on meeting both individual and practice goals—which leads to good things for practice productivity and your bottom line.

Set team members up for success from the beginning. That means giving them the tools and training they need to be successful. Don’t throw them into their new role after just 10 minutes of training with another team member. You might think they’ll catch on quickly, but I wouldn’t count on it. They’ll become flustered as they try to keep up and won’t be nearly as efficient as someone who had everything they needed, including training, before their first day on the job.

It’s also important to tell team members exactly how their performance will be measured. For example, if you expect your Treatment Coordinator to achieve an 85% case acceptance rate, the team member should be aware of that expectation and have the tools and training necessary to meet it.

You want your team members to be confident and happy as they interact with patients throughout the day. If they’re not trained properly or don’t have everything they need to perform their jobs, they’ll be stressed and frazzled instead. Productivity will suffer and so will your bottom line.

Team members want to do their part
If team members aren’t meeting expectations, it probably isn’t because they’re lazy or don’t care about the practice. It’s much more likely they simply don’t know what those expectations are. Once they do, they’ll be able to focus their efforts and work toward meeting individual and practice goals. Both their confidence and efficiencies will improve, and they’ll be much happier to come to work each day. Your team members will find their jobs more rewarding and your practice will flourish.

Need more guidance? Check out my book, Performance Measurements: An Easy and Effective Method to Measure Your Dental Employee’s Performance.

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