11.22.13 Issue #611 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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What’s Really Dragging You Down?
By Gene St. Louis

The excuses are many. Again and again practitioners will lament the countless external forces that wreak havoc on their profitability. Here are five of your favorite reasons for why your practice isn’t more productive: #5 Patients in my area won’t go for comprehensive dentistry. #4 We’re in a rural area/we’re in an oversaturated metropolitan area. #3 The staff can’t get along. #2 Good help is hard to find. #1 The economy. All of those are very good reasons, and certainly each can have an effect on practice profitability. But oftentimes there is another far more obvious factor to consider.

Maybe it’s time to turn the mirror on your own behaviors, doctor. Seldom do dentists consider that they may be the real reason why their practices cannot get ahead. Study after study shows that weak, poor, and just plain bad bosses take their toll on the economy, on employees, and ultimately on their own profitability. Inc. Magazine summed it up this way, “The real productivity killer – jerks.”

One report revealed that lousy leaders cost businesses $360 billion - yes that’s Billion with a “B” - annually in lost productivity. And it doesn’t stop there, three out of four employees report that the worst part of going to work is the boss. And 65% would take a better boss over a pay raise. Ouch! But here’s the irony, it’s NOT what the bosses do that cause the rub. It’s what they don’t do. A study of 30,000 workers repeatedly cited five primary failures among bosses.

1. Bad bosses don’t inspire. It’s up to you to motivate your employees.
2. Bad bosses accept mediocrity. Stop looking the other way when problems arise.
3. They lack clear vision and direction. If you don’t know where you’re headed, how can you possibly expect your employees to know?
4. They are unable to collaborate and be a team player. You repeatedly shut others down when they offer ideas.
5. Bad bosses fail to walk the talk. You insist that everyone arrive at 7:45 a.m. for the daily meeting; you stroll in at 8:15. Never forget that employees are expert “boss watchers.”

No question about it, being the boss is not an enviable position, and how do you know if you’re a good or bad boss? Staff turnover is probably one of the clearest indicators. If you’re frequently scrambling to fill vacancies, chances are good you’re not exactly an easy person to work for. So, what can you do to improve?

Take a few cues from truly effective leaders. The really good bosses provide clear guidelines, necessary training, plenty of praise, and corrective measures when necessary. The best bosses also engage their teams and help them grow as professionals. They encourage and value their input and efforts to improve the practice. And they are always working to be better bosses themselves.

Create a culture for success. Set clear, challenging goals and specific expectations for your team. Explain the “why” behind the “what.” In other words, don’t just tell employees what to do - clarify why their responsibilities are important to the overall success of the practice. Monitor the team’s progress in achieving goals through regular staff meetings, system checks, and performance reviews. Celebrate and reward success often.

Set your employees up to succeed. Work with individuals and the team as a whole to define realistic goals that encourage the team to work at peak performance. Invest in training for employees to maximize their potential. Establish clear standards. There should be an office code of conduct, specific office policies, and business procedures that everyone must follow.

Communicate clearly and specifically. Avoid making general comments about an issue and assuming that someone will just pick up the ball and run with it. If you don’t communicate your desires clearly no one can be held responsible except you when those desires aren’t met. Be decisive and take action even when it is difficult. Certainly, a major decision such as terminating a staff member requires careful evaluation, but too often the doctor simply continues to look the other way, burdening the team and compromising the practice. Make listening a part of your management strategy. Seek input from the team. Welcome and encourage open communication, both bad news as well as good news.

Becoming a good boss requires that you are conscious of your behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, and how you relate to each member of your team. Make the effort to improve your own leadership skills and become a productivity powerhouse.

Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email gene@mckenziemgmt.com

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