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2.08.08 Issue #309 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Your Team Can Make or ‘Brake’ You!

Dr. Sharon Jenkins – Case Study #167

Dr. Jenkins’s concerns:
Dr. Jenkins contacted McKenzie Management because she was not happy with the performance of her dental team and wanted to know how to resolve the issue. She wanted to be friendly with the team but was having difficulty separating friendship from the responsibilities of being an employer. Dr. Jenkins revealed that she liked her employees as people, but “they are driving me crazy as employees.”  Dr. Jenkins asked for help in determining what actions need to be taken to motivate them to be as good at their work as they were at being friends.


  • The team proved to be mature, friendly, and more than willing to share information about the practice. 
  • The team did not know what was expected of them.
  • There were no opportunities for employees to communicate their needs for assistance other than breaks between patients.
  •  Morning huddles or monthly business meetings were not scheduled resulting in no communication regarding how the practice was performing.
  • The business team did not have written job descriptions or defined areas of accountability. Both team members were running on auto-pilot and just “doing what needs to be done”.
  • Dr. Jenkins spent a lot of her time looking for supplies that she needed in order to perform treatment on patients.  This inefficiency was slowing her down and making her tense.
  • The team expressed being unhappy with Dr. Jenkins’s performance and felt that she spent too much time doing things that she could delegate to them. 
  • Dr. Jenkins was not good at communicating her needs to her team and thought that “they should be experienced enough to know what I want”.

Recommendations and Implementation

  • Instruction was provided on how to establish a clinical procedural manual which included photos of tray setups and a list of all the materials needed.  In addition, with the help of the assistants, the approximate time to perform the procedures was documented. This protocol manual was to be completed for all clinical procedures so that everyone would understand how each procedure is performed.
  • A meeting was scheduled to review all the procedures that are performed with all the team members, including the business team and the hygienist so everyone was on the same page. 
  • Job descriptions were established for the business team along with performance measurements of their assigned duties.
  • The entire team and the doctor learn by doing, even if something is done incorrectly. The error must be communicated with the team so that there is a benefit from the error and it doesn’t get repeated. The team and the doctor must give each other “permission” to be open and honest regarding errors or “perceived errors” so it can be discussed and corrected.
  • Performance reviews are to be conducted twice a year in order to discuss particular concerns with each employee, and to give the employee an opportunity to share his/her thoughts as well.
  • The doctor is the employer and not a friend in the dental office. Mutual respect is necessary for a smooth-running practice.  It was recommended and agreed upon that Dr. Jenkins would enroll in McKenzie’s Leadership Training course to learn how to lead her employees and guide them to achieve peak performance.

Team members do not intentionally “under perform”.  They do what they know until they learn something different.  It is up to the doctor to demonstrate the desired methods of preparing and completing daily tasks. 

Don’t continue to allow your team members to slow you down because of their lack of knowledge.  Train them to be the best they can be. Invite McKenzie Management into your office to establish your business systems and hygiene protocols.  Train the clinical team the steps of each procedure so you can work together as chairside partners and expedite the treatment for efficiency and quality. 

The best compliment you can have from a patient is, “Doctor, it is amazing to watch you and your assistant work together.  You don’t need to tell her what you want – she just seems to always have it.”  Don’t settle for a working environment that may “brake” you in the end.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies….. email

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