Improve Communication with your Team
If you find your team members are annoying you just about every day, you’re not alone – you’re annoying them, too. Dentists and their team members often have different communication styles, which can lead to a lot of frustration and misunderstandings. This is a common problem in dental practices, but one that can be fixed with a little effort. Here are a few tips designed to help you improve communication with your team, which will ultimately lead to happier staff members, increased production and a more robust bottom line.
Hold Morning Huddles. And I’m not just talking about a few minutes right before you open your doors. Start the meeting well before patients start walking in, and be sure to arrive on time every day. Show your team members you take these meetings seriously and they will too. If you miss three out of four meetings a week, don’t get upset when team members aren’t there when you do show up.
There’s a lot you can talk about during these huddles to make sure you’re on the same page. Here are a few ideas for the agenda:
• Review the procedures scheduled for the day to make sure everything is accurate
Taking the time to meet each morning will improve team communication. It gives everyone the opportunity to address concerns before the day even begins, which means avoiding frustrating misunderstandings later.
Train team members not to ask you important questions in-between patients. You have a lot on your mind when seeing patients throughout the day, so if Susan your hygienist asks if she can take the day off tomorrow so she can attend a lunch at her daughter’s school, you’ll likely say yes then promptly forget about the conversation, leading to frustration for both of you.
Make sure team members know not to ask those types of questions when they catch you in the hallway. Instead, they should save them for first thing in the morning, before lunch or at the end of the day. And when they forget, tell them you’ll think about it and give them an answer the following morning.
Create a place where team members can voice their concerns. Oftentimes employees don’t bring up concerns because they’re afraid of being reprimanded. So they leave it bottled up inside, which could lead to staff conflict and other problems down the road. It’s important to remain open-minded about your team’s concerns and comments, and encourage them to share their thoughts. Create a suggestion box or whiteboard to give team members a safe place to express their opinions.
Let team members know they can come to you. It’s important for team members to feel comfortable talking to you, whether they’re having a problem with a co-worker or just need to request time off work. If they don’t, it could lead to trouble and chaos in your practice. Let me give you an example. Let’s say your team members know you don’t think anyone should ever get sick, making them afraid to call you when they need to take a sick day. They call one of their co-workers instead, leaving you to find out you’re short staffed at the last possible minute.
If this is a problem in your practice, I suggest you implement a system for team members to use when they’re under the weather. They should call you as soon as they realize they won’t be able to make it in today. Instead of giving them grief, you simply say, “Sorry to hear that. Take care of yourself and come back in when you’re feeling better.” The sick team member should also contact his or her working “partner” to relay anything they might need to know regarding the day.
There are many different personalities in a dental practice, which can make effective communication challenging. But if you make the effort, you’ll find everyone will work much better as a team. You’ll be more efficient and more productive, with fewer misunderstandings – leading to a healthier, more profitable practice.
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