Building a Team of CEO's
“My employees now think like CEO’s.” That is one of the highest compliments we can receive from our clients who participate in our consulting programs. It is a significant step for practices because it demonstrates that employees are taking ownership for their individual practice systems. What’s more, the employee is then tuned into problems that may occur in his/her specific systems. S/he is aware when breakdowns occur and can take prompt action to address the problem long before it becomes a crisis. This can be a huge benefit to the doctor and the practice.
As any practice owner knows all too well, being solely responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the business is running as it should be is a job of Herculean proportions. Even for the most detail oriented perfectionist, effectively diagnosing and delivering treatment as well as managing every other aspect of the practice from collections, to scheduling, to hygiene, to hiring, and the list goes on - is virtually impossible.
But if the employees are thinking like CEOs, if they are trained and understand how the systems are supposed to work, they are in a perfect place to spot problems before they become crises. Oftentimes, when given the opportunity, employees can be your best source for innovative solutions to increasing efficiency, improving customer service, and reducing costs.
We've found one of the fundamental steps practice owners can take to move the team toward thinking like CEOs is ensuring they understand that they truly do have a stake in the success of the business. Working in a dental office isn't the type of job in which you are just another cog in the wheel. Rather, this is one of the best places where employees can really shine, provided they are given and subsequently seize the opportunity.
Certainly, helping employees to achieve an ownership mentality doesn't mean abdicating your responsibilities as the leader. Rather, it begins with asking a few basic questions. Such as, what they would do if they were in your shoes? What would they change to help the practice provide better customer service? What processes would they adjust to help the practice save money? What steps would they take to help patients move forward with treatment?
While the current economic issues may have slowed the revolving door of employee turnover for some practices, for others it continues to spin out of control. One of the cornerstones of a profitable practice is a stable team. If you are routinely placing want ads because “good help is hard to find,” it’s time to ask a key question. Specifically, what would make the office a better place to work?
Practice owners are often afraid to ask this question. But if staff turnover is a problem in the practice, this is one of the first and most critical answers you need to pin down. Frustrated employees are spending more time finding their next job than they are finding solutions to your practice problems. They are busy updating their resumes rather than updating patient records. They are focused on where they are going next, not on what they should be doing now. Whereas employees that are happy are more productive and perform at a much higher level producing a much better quality product - be it customer service, hygiene, collections, treatment presentation, etcetera, etcetera.
When employees are engaged, they are excited and energized. That alone pays huge dividends in productivity, but when they are actively problem solving and looking for better and more efficient ways to carry out their responsibilities, you are on your way to building a truly effective team that is prepared to achieve real results, which leads me to the next question to ask your up and coming CEOs: How can we improve customer/patient service?
Doctors like to believe that they have a good sense of how well patients are treated. But let's be realistic, doctor. How many times have you heard both sides of the conversation when current or new patients call the office to schedule an appointment? Not nearly enough practice owners pay attention to what is happening on the front lines. It is not until a patient complains that they are jolted into facing the fact that this is an area too often left to operate on autopilot. Find out what patients are grumbling about. Far too many practices are losing patients not because the doctor's clinical skills are lacking, but because customer service is rarely, if ever, evaluated. Why not have me record and evaluate your calls for you and provide telephone training for your front office team? Call Dara at my office 877-777-6151 for more details.
Next week, more questions to ask your “CEO’s.”
Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.
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