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10.21.05 Issue #189  
What Teams Want, Dentists Need

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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Performance reviews. Ah yes, you remember that item. It pops up on your task list about once a year. Call the employee in, pat them on the back, give ‘em a hearty “atta girl” or perhaps an “atta boy.” Tell them about the generous raise they’ll receive and send them on their way. Another year over, another performance review complete, and there you have another surefire way to de-motivate your employees, discourage improved performance, and send overhead rocketing skyward. No wonder a fair number of doctors dodge them.

Meanwhile, dental practices from Maine to Washington and every state in between lament their continual difficulty in attracting and keeping quality employees. They look to the standard incentives, such as bonuses, raises, time off, etc. They don’t even consider implementing systems designed to encourage employees to set goals and to take ownership of key areas,  or giving them a voice in the decision-making process – essential steps in building a team that is invested in the success of the practice. 

What if you could take the performance review – a seemingly perfunctory exercise – and turn it into your power tool for inspiring your staff as well as attracting and retaining the very best employees. What if you could transform this oft-viewed exercise in futility into the ultimate motivational instrument that will spur both productivity and individual commitment to your practice and give your team the professional edge that you’ve long-desired but never thought you could achieve.

All that from a performance review? Yes, all that and more. I make that assertion because over the past several months, McKenzie Management has surveyed and interviewed hundreds of individual team members. What we’ve found is that the most successful practices and the most effective employees thrive in those environments in which team members’ individual performance objectives work hand in glove with the doctor’s practice philosophy. We’ve confirmed that auxiliaries excel in those situations in which the employees have job descriptions stating different responsibilities. And we’ve documented time and again that both business and clinical employees flourish when there is an overriding expectation that team members are accountable for specific responsibilities.  

It should come as no surprise. After all, most of us are far more likely to be successful when we know what is expected of us, when we have goals we seek to achieve, when we are part of an overall effort to attain a common objective, and when we know that our voice matters.

Now I can hear some of you saying, “But Sally, we have performance measurements and they’re not working like we thought they would.” Oftentimes, practices base the measurements on areas that are clearly and easily quantifiable such as collections ratio, accounts receivables, production, number of new patients, etc. But what about those employees that have little or no influence on the outcome of those areas? What about the pressure placed upon the business staff who almost single-handedly have to meet certain practice objectives month-after-month. What about the feelings of resentment that bubble up when team members don’t feel everyone is contributing to the outcomes but receive the same rewards? And therein lies the problem.

The most effective performance measurements are based on individual jobs and they focus on specific job-related goals and how those relate to improving the total practice. Used effectively, employee performance measurements and reviews provide dental teams and individuals far more than a cursory overview of one person’s ability to carry out what they think are their responsibilities. They offer critical information that is essential in your efforts to make major decisions regarding patients, financial concerns, management systems, productivity, and staff.

Next week, using performance measurements to create the self-directed team.

If you are interested in Performance Measurements and reviews, visit our web-site at: Performance Measurements

If you have any question or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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SETTING A NEW DIRECTION: Hiring for Peak Performance

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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Quality, caring, friendly practice. Great Doctor to work for. No HMO. Top pay if qualified. 1-4 days/wk. Benefits. 321-454-3332

You place the job ad. You screen the resumes. You conduct the interview. ‘Applicant Linda’ says all the right things. She is very personable. Her resume is filled with excellent work experience. You get a good feeling. You offer her the job. She accepts. You are relieved. But in the months that follow, she fails to live up to your expectations. She can’t get along with coworkers. She talks so much she irritates patients. And you suspect that she is falsifying her time card

Anyone who has ever hired an employee has a ‘war story’. What’s yours?

Determining who will be a good employee and fit into your practice is an enormous challenge. Predicting human behavior is extremely difficult – ask any psychologist. Hiring accuracy is reduced further by the fact that most dental offices use only one or two interviews, a resume, and an application to make a decision that will have a HUGE impact on productivity and revenue.

If you rely on traditional interviews be aware that they are subjective. Interviews measure social skills, not job suitability. Individuals who create a positive impression are viewed as more capable than quiet or nervous applicants. Because they are not objective, interviews are the least accurate predictors of job success.

Perhaps you rely on resumes and believe that this improves your hiring accuracy. However, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 90% of all resumes contain false information!

You may plan to add reference checks, convinced that talking with previous employers will give you useful insights. Forget it. Former employers generally reveal nothing of significance. In fact, in many states it is illegal to give any information except for dates of employment.

With the cost of hiring the “wrong” person rising, you owe it to yourself to find a better way to hire employees. The solution is to match the applicant’s personality to the job.

The right hire means the difference between an employee who achieves great success and one who is continually frustrated. But even the most talented, hardworking employees will not thrive if the job they’re hired for is a poor fit with their personality. That’s because personality predicts aspects of performance not necessarily related to knowledge, skills and abilities. Testing predicts what a person WILL do vs. what they CAN DO.

Studies show that employment testing outperforms traditional interviews 4 to 1 in predicting job performance. As a complement to your selection process, testing is a proven, effective method of making the right hires, the first time, every time.

Staffing Solutions On-Line (SSOL), a division of The McKenzie Company, has developed Internet personality testing exclusively for dentistry. Partnering with the Institute for Personality and Ability Testing (IPAT), the SSOL test strictly adheres to legal guidelines for employment testing. It assesses 12 essential personality traits so you know how closely your candidate or existing employee matches the profiles of peak performers in the dental industry. No more guessing. You have objective and scientific data to help you determine suitability for one of four dental positions.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few qualified candidates, use the SSOL test to evaluate critical personality traits. It’s the easy, affordable way to hire the right candidates the first time around, reduce turnover and slash hiring costs. 
A productive, harmonious office is priceless!

Next week: Using peak performance testing with existing employees.

As an Introductory Offer, receive one (1) complimentary test for your practice when you send a summary of your ‘hiring horror’ to Dr. Haller at

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Why Morning Meetings Are Important for Hygiene

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant McKenzie Management

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Does your hygienist just walk in, set up her room, and start seeing her patients?  Does the doctor even know when she will need exams, whom she will be taking x-rays on, or what x-rays will be taken? These are just a few of the items that would be gone over at a morning meeting with the entire team present. The morning meeting is great for the hygienist and team to communicate openly about the day and patients without the fear of being over heard.

With the scheduling coordinator distributing copies of the daily schedule to everyone, consider reviewing in addition to today, the next two work day’s schedules so that anticipated production and/or decreased stress can be acted upon early. The team will make notes on the schedule as the day’s events are discussed.  Whoever engineers the appointment schedule gives comments on each patient being seen.  So for example, if the practice has a Patient Coordinator whose job description is the Hygiene Department, she states that Mrs. Jones is coming in at 9:00 this morning and mentions any items of a personal nature such as special events in patient’s lives, births, marriages, deaths, or patients that have been referred.

The hygienist then carries the meeting with stating what she will do for Mrs. Jones today, i.e., professional cleaning and she’s due for two bitewings.  In addition, the amount of scheduled production for the hygienist would be discussed.  The hygienist might note any openings in the schedule or that she may not take the entire scheduled time should someone with a child want to be seen.

It is very beneficial for the hygienists to review their individual patient charts and schedule for the day prior to the meeting.  Treatment that is to be provided should be discussed as well as any periodontal therapy and unscheduled treatment plans that the hygienist can reinforce.

We also find through our consulting with hygiene departments, that the hygienists are not meeting the x-ray philosophy of the practice.  In other words, are bitewings taken once a year, every six months or every 18-24 months?  In order to measure this department statistic, run a production report on yourself for the past 6 months and add up the number of adult and child prophys.  Next, compare that with how many “sets” of bitewings you took for the same time frame.  An example of 500 prophys should realize 250 sets of bitewings if the practice philosophy was once a year.  If this is not being met, the morning meeting is the best way to begin to identify who is not receiving bitewing x-rays.  The morning meetings help to bring an “awareness” to the hygienist and the doctor.

Meeting in the morning before the day begins, helps to cut down on miscommunication or lack of communication. For example, the meeting should take about fifteen minutes and that can be for a team of fourteen; consisting of four front desk, four assistants, four full time hygienists, and two doctors. Of course the team has to come to the office early in order to be prepared for the meeting. However, this time will be invaluable when it comes to the increase in production and the joy that will result because of less confusion and stress.

There are many things that will be gone over at the meeting. Here are some of the suggestions that you may want to include in your meeting:

  • Will the schedule work?
  • Is more time or less time needed for a procedure?
  • Is there open time that needs to be filled?
  • Is there a time during the day that help may be required by somebody because of special needs of the patient?
  • Financial concerns?
  • Insurance concerns?
  • Does the doctor need to do an exam?
  • Can more treatment be completed in the time allotted?
  • Are production goals being met?
  • When does the hygienist need the doctor in her room?
  • Treatment Pending with doctor.
  • Patients that need to schedule hygiene appointments.

The meeting should be concluded by summarizing concerns that need to be addressed regarding a patient.  These might be financial or personal considerations. Some of the benefits you will receive by committing to this organized daily regimen are increased organization by knowing the particulars of each patient’s case in advance. Increased productivity by using the information shared during this “focus session” to reinforce the need for completion of necessary treatment. Enhanced treatment acceptance by reinforcing the doctor’s comprehensive treatment plan and increased perio therapy and patient retention.

Jean conducts 2 day Hygiene Performance Enrichment Programs  for The Center for Dental Career Development and McKenzie Management in La Jolla/San Diego, CA. Contact her at  or call 1-877-777-6151 for more information on her Advanced Hygiene Training Programs.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental group? Email us at or call 1-877-777-6151

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