10.9.09 Issue #396 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Strengthen Your 'Core' Performers
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Extremes. We’ve seen plenty of “extremes” in the last few years, extreme cosmetic surgery, extreme home improvement, extreme weather, extreme sports, extreme weight loss, there’s even an extreme pizza. Obviously, “extremes” attract the most attention, which is why extreme this and extreme that seem to be virtually everywhere.

In the dental office, while the scale of extremes may be smaller, it’s still the extremely good and the extremely bad that get the most notice, particularly when it comes to employees. The star gets the accolades, the slacker seemingly gets away with murder, and those in the middle –the core of your team - are often left to simply muddle along. They see that the star is recognized, and the slacker gets attention of a different form. Yet it is those in the middle that are essential to your practice’s success or failure. Your average but loyal staff are frequently the ones with the capability and often the desire to excel, but in far too many practices they are merely drifting along. The question is, how do you build a stronger core? The answer is performance reviews. It’s like weight training for you and your team, and the benefits are many and lasting. 

Performance reviews can be an essential tool in not only weeding out the poor performers and recognizing the stars, but in developing your core of solid, committed employees who consistently perform well and inspire co-workers to do their best. But don’t just choose any performance review model. Be selective.

Some well-intentioned systems are poorly designed and actually discourage excellent performance. The most successful performance measurements are based on individual jobs. They focus on specific job-related goals and how those relate to improving the total practice. Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews energize the dental teams and give you critical information to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity, and staff. To implement a performance measurement system, take a few key steps and begin strengthening your core immediately.

Step #1
Create specific job descriptions for each employee. We explained this in detail last week. You need to define the job that each staff member is responsible for performing. Specify the skills the person in the position should have, and outline the specific duties and responsibilities of the job.

Step #2
Lay the groundwork for success. Provide the necessary equipment and tools to perform the job, and provide training to help team members carry out the job duties most effectively. Evaluate the number of staff to ensure the number is adequate, and explain what is expected of the employee and how their performance will be measured. For example, if you are measuring the performance of your dental assistant, you should be able to see the distal of the cuspid on every bitewing X-ray, you should never have to reach for an instrument on any setup, and the models the assistant pours should be free of defects. In addition, if you expect your assistant to achieve an 85% case acceptance, she/he needs to know this. If it’s your expectation that she give a daily report on post-treatment calls, she needs to be told. If you expect your assistant to convert 75% of emergency patients to comprehensive exam patients, and keep the cost of dental supplies at no more than 5% of practice collections, make sure that direction is abundantly clear to the employee.

Step #3
What gets measured gets done. Appraise employee performance using an effective performance appraisal instrument that evaluates key areas such as:

  • The employee’s ability to follow instructions.
  • Their willingness to help and cooperate with others.
  • The incidents of errors in their work.
  • Their initiative, commitment, and innovation in carrying out their responsibilities and improving work flow.
  • Their work ethics, their attitude, and their individual productivity.

Remember that the vast majority of employees, whether superstar or seemingly average, want to deliver a quality work product. They want to feel motivated to succeed and feel that that are doing their part to move the practice forward. Strengthen your core and watch the dead weight just fall away.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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