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Dr. Nancy Haller
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Dentists often complain to me that at least one person in their office “just isn’t motivated”. I tell them that it’s not true. Everyone is motivated by something. The question is what motivates your staff?
Employees are generally more willing to do things that benefit them personally than they are wiling to do things that benefit your practice. I’m not being cynical or negative. It’s a psychological fact about human nature. If you want a higher performing staff, you’ve got to tune into WII-FM, the what’s-in-it-for-me station.
Leadership is about influence. This happens best when you connect what you want employees to do with the benefits they will gain by doing it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that your employees are motivated by the same things as you are. This is rarely true. If you try to persuade your employees by what motivates you, your words will fall on deaf ears. As Aristotle said, “The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own.”
You don't need to have a Ph.D. in psychology to influence others but you do need to be curious. Take an interest in your employees' comments and actions. Find ways every day to learn about each member of your team. What are the themes behind their words and behaviors? Where do their needs and your needs coincide? How can you use their natural drive to help you to reach your most important practice goals? Now that’s truly a win-win situation.
To answer these questions, temporarily set aside your own beliefs and values. Be careful to avoid being judgmental. You might not always agree with what’s important to an employee but give them the right to their own opinions. When you stay open-minded to different perspectives, you can connect with your staff on a meaningful level. Getting people to talk about what's important to them solidifies relationships. That builds trust and team cohesion.
To be a more effective leader, you may need to modify the way you engage your staff. “Telling” someone what you want them to do is very different from “selling” them on the idea. I am not suggesting that you revert to “high-pressure” sales tactics. By “selling,” I mean look for ways to get your employees emotionally committed to their responsibilities. Focus on the benefits, not the costs. This inspires buy-in rather than compliance.
Let’s take an example. Jenny is your chairside assistant. She’s pleasant. All your patients like her. She’s been with you since you started the practice. She does what you ask her. And therein lies the problem. She only does what she is asked to do. She rarely initiates any clean-up outside her immediate area...unless you ask her. She’s compliant but you want her to be motivated to go beyond her individual duties. You wish she would assume a higher level of responsibility. After all, she’s been with you for many years. But whenever she has extra time you find her up at the front desk talking with your receptionist.
What is Jenny telling you through her behavior? You might say, “She’s lazy.” If you settle for that short-sighted explanation, you’re going to miss an opportunity to learn about her. You need to look beyond your judgment of Jenny’s chattiness and be curious about what drives her.
It’s likely that Jenny is demonstrating a social nature. She values interaction with people. She’s probably an extravert. If you want her to initiate additional responsibilities on her own, assign her to activities that involve others because that’s what motivates her. Be creative. Think of your office operations and list the tasks that are interpersonally based. Jenny’s much more likely to get those things done withoutbeing asked.
Be a more inspirational leader with your team. Start by finding out what’s important to each and every one of your team. See them for who they are. Look at things fromtheir point of view. Adjust your strategy to go with – not against – their natural motivators. When you use this approach you will find that it’s easy and even fun to motivate others. You’ll be helping them get what they want while simultaneously accomplishing your own objectives.
Tune into the WII-FM signal, and stop listening to static.
Create the right environment that sustains profitability through employee commitment and engagement.
Contact Dr. Haller at email@example.com
Jean Gallienne RDH BS
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How many times have you been in the middle of working on a somewhat relaxed patient when suddenly his/her cell phone rings? The patient jumps and you move the scaler quickly to avoid collision with the soft tissue. How many times does the patient answer the phone during the course of the treatment time? Or, how many times does the cell phone ring, the patient does not answer it and you get to enjoy the beep or whatever noise the phone makes every minute or so? This is an annoyance you don’t want when you are working to provide the patient with the quality of care necessary in the time allotted.
How should we approach our patients when it comes to the use of the cell phone during treatment time? What exactly is the patient not saying verbally when the cell phone takes precedence over his/her scheduled appointment time?
Here are some ideas when it comes to the control and etiquette of cell phones.
“Hello, Roy. How are you today? To give you the time that is needed to complete your treatment, we are requesting that you please turn your cell phone off during your appointment today.”
Putting the cell phone on vibrate only prevents the noise. It does not prevent the patient from being more interested in the incoming call than the education and information being presented. It is better to have the patient turn it off completely.
If the patient refuses to turn the cell phone off but agrees to set it to vibrate, this is better than being subjected to the distraction created by the ringtone.
It is not recommended to just stop everything you are doing because the patient’s cell phone rings.
If the cell phone vibrates and you are in the middle of the procedure, the best thing to do is get to a point in the treatment, when it is convenient for you, and then state, “Go ahead and see who it is. Is it an emergency? Do you need to get that?” By asking these questions, you are informing the patient that, unless it is an emergency, it may be a good idea not to answer the phone at this time. The patient may think twice before answering if there is some resistance.
By giving the patient the opportunity to see the caller ID and decide whether it is important to take the call, the patient is more apt to stay an active participant in their dental appointment.
It is equally important, in providing great customer service, to remind the patient to turn on their cell phone when they leave the office. The office may want to have a sign at check-out reminding them to turn their cell phone on.
Once the money has been collected and the next appointment has been made, the Scheduling Coordinator may want to say, “Roy, we appreciate that you turned off your cell phone during the appointment. If you have not turned it back on I want to remind you now.” Hearing this, other patients will be reminded to turn the cell phones off during their appointments.
What about employees and their use of cell phones? Employees should be turning their cell phones off, too. This includes checking emails, text messaging and voicemail. The doctor is not paying employees to conduct personal and other business while on the clock. They should be checking their voicemail, text messages and e-mails at lunch or at scheduled break times. The employee policy for cell phone use should be included in the Employee Policy Manual to establish consistency and cooperation.
If the employees have their cell phones in non-ring mode, they are not concentrating on the patient and work at hand. If they are sending text messages or getting emails, they will be anticipating replies rather than giving 100% to the patient and to job duties.
If you expect the patients to be committed 100% to their appointment time with you, it is only right for the team to be committed 100% to the patient’s time and the doctor’s time. This mutual value of time builds trust and respect for all parties involved in the treatment process.