Spell out the 3 Ps –
Dr. Nancy Haller
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How busy are you?
Can’t get everything done?
Are you putting in longer and longer hours for uncompensated work?
No time for long range planning and strategy?
Let’s face facts. You have A LOT to do. Your responsibilities extend to patients, employees, family, and community. It’s likely that you’re good at organizing. An effective task-master. You do things well and you get things done. But if the weight of your workload has become burdensome, it may be that you are living to work…rather than working to live.
Time is a precious commodity. There is never enough. The solution is learning to delegate. In fact it’s something that most people are never taught. After all your success has depended on what you did. Now find yourself with employees reporting to you. So get them more involved in the work.
It may be that you understand this on an objective or cognitive level but you’re worried that things won’t get done correctly. On the opposite side of the spectrum, delegation doesn’t mean abdicating authority. Ultimately you are still responsible for what happens in your office. The goal is to find ways to get things done without having to do it all yourself.
The first step is facing your fears about delegating, and evaluating those beliefs rationally. Here are some common reasons leaders fail to delegate.
Teaching and sharing information can feel like one more thing you have to do. But the short tem investment of time will pay off in big long term dividends. Train your employees so they know what you want them to do. Certainly this doesn’t make sense if the task or project is unique, something you will only do once. But if the work is performed on an ongoing basis, then it makes sense to teach someone else to do it. Once they are up to speed, you will begin to reap the rewards in time saved.
This probably is true. You’re successful because you do things well. But ask yourself – and be honest – do you have unrealistic standards? Frequently it’s more important that the task is done, not that it’s done perfectly. When you delegate to your staff, you empower them. By teaching and developing them, you are instilling trust. Trust breeds loyalty and loyalty leads to greater productivity.
There are different levels of delegation. You don’t want to relinquish control for the most important tasks. For example, you might ask an employee to research the new billing software you are interested in purchasing. Tell them what you need to know and let them do the footwork then report back to you. Even better, have your employee evaluate the costs and benefits of different vendors and provide you with their recommendation for moving forward. Of course you want to set a time limit and check on the project periodically.
Although practice overhead might be high, consider the amount of money you could generate if you had more time. Spending money actually can make you money. Hour for hour, your fees are much greater than an administrative employee. Think about what it really costs you to do inventory of the supply room. Now that’s expensive! In the long run, hiring someone to free you of time makes good financial sense. Plus you’ll have the added benefits of more time to spend with your family or friends. That can make a big difference in the quality of your life.
The productivity in your office is the direct result of consistent training and coaching. Unless you delegate tasks to employees, your team will become inefficient and demoralized. Develop the skills in your staff. You’ll do them and yourself a favor!
Next article: How to delegate effectively
Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in having Nancy speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.
Jean Gallienne RDH BS
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We have all worked with new employees or have been a new employee ourselves. There is a time when training has to occur in order for the new person to perform, behave, and be responsible for their actions.
The same has to happen with our patients. It is recommended that every office have protocols and policies in place, not only for the employees, but also for the patients. They also need to be aware of what to expect and what is expected of them as a patient.
For instance, most offices expect their patients to call at least one to two days in advance if they are going to cancel their appointment. We expect our patients to be on time and to respect our time, because we run on time and respect their time.
This is where the training comes in to play. As we all know, it takes time to be trained as a new employee and it takes time to train an employee. The same is true of our patients. Unfortunately, many offices do not take the time and money to train their employees until there is a problem. The same happens when it comes to patients.
We as health care providers are not only doing our patients a service by training them, we are also doing ourselves a service. Many times it is less work to train them correctly from the beginning than to correct them in the future. Training the patients to perform in the manner we wish is the job of every team member.
Whenever a new patient is in the hygiene chair for the first time, it is a great idea to go over with the patient what will happen. Not only at that initial visit with the hygienist, but also go over what to expect at future appointments. One example of this would be, “Mr. Jones, today I will be providing a professional cleaning appointment for you. Because you just had your exam with the doctor, there are a few things that we do on a routine basis at your professional cleaning appointment that I will not be doing today because the doctor just did them at your exam appointment. The first thing we do is an oral cancer exam, check for cavities and periodontal disease, gum pocket depth, and once a year we will take x-rays to check for cavities.” Tell them how long their hygiene appointment will usually be.
Doing this at the beginning of the relationship allows the patient to know what to expect of you. This also creates a need for them to return, because they now realize that they are having more than, “just a cleaning”.
Yes, the patient may forget every word you told them, but when they come in for the next appointment, and you inform them of what you are going to do that day it will all come back to them. This helps with treatment acceptance.
When the patient calls to make their appointment or the office calls to make their professional hygiene appointment, the Scheduling Coordinator will remind the patient of what is going to happen during their appointment and the amount of time needed so it is not a surprise to them.
There are so many times, we as hygienists, can drop a seed in the patient’s ear by casually mentioning something to them. When we take the explorer or probe out to check around the mouth before we get started for any areas of concern. Just talking out loud to ourselves and to the patient about what we see. “Well, Mr. Jones everything looks pretty good, but you have some large fillings on the last two teeth in the upper right that are getting pretty old that I want Doctor to look at today.”
At the last quadrant of root planing, explain to the patient the difference between a cleaning and a periodontal maintenance appointment so the patient is more aware of what to expect. This is a great way to help relieve them of the fears they may have. Many times, the thing we fear the most is the fear created within ourselves because we do not know what to expect.
Making our patients more aware and educated about our office procedures, policies, and expectations right from the beginning is a great way to help our patients, the practice, and ourselves.
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com.
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