Can She Really Hit the Ground Running?
Dr. Jim Beavers—Case Study #411
"I am so tired of thinking. I wish I could get my team to take control of their responsibilities so I don't have to think for them!" Dr. Beavers made this statement as he reminded one of his business employees to change the message on the answer machine. "If I don't remind them, they will forget!"
Do you feel that way, too? If you don't remind everyone how to perform their daily tasks, they will surely forget, or do it incorrectly. You must be exhausted having to remember everything that you need to do as well as what they need to do, too!
Dr. Beaver’s Practice Statistics:
Dr. Beavers has what he considers to be a "successful" practice, but he also feels that he is working himself into the ground. The reasons for his displeasure are explained with the following observations.
Some dentists walk around all day with checklists in their heads of tasks that need to be completed. It is very tiring to carry this list around; especially when the list gets longer every day and nothing is getting checked off. The following recommendations were presented to Dr. Beavers and his team to assist in managing his checklist and to be able to complete the list.
No systems—Make a list of tasks that you feel must be performed by your team on a routine basis. Train them to perform these tasks the way that you want them done. Don't leave anything to the imagination if you want it done your way. Assign the tasks to specific team members and have them write down the protocols step by step. Confirm that they can perform the tasks to your satisfaction.
No accountability—As tasks are assigned, confirm that the people that you have assigned the tasks to understand that they are responsible for the tasks being completed correctly. They are allowed to delegate the assignment if they choose but it is their responsibility to make sure that any person they delegate the task to can perform it correctly, and that they are the ones that you will be turning to if a task is not performed or performed incorrectly. This eliminates the "I don't know. I didn't do it!"
Job descriptions are vital in the area of accountability. You can't expect something to get done if the task is not assigned to a specific person. Everyone assumes that someone else is going to do it and no one does! Create a way of following up systematically for quality control.
No confirmation of tasks—Develop a system in which every team member understands the importance of completing a task in a timely manner. It is your responsibility to provide a time frame, such as "before the end of the day," "the end of the week," etc. What is urgent to you may not be urgent to them, so communicate! You also want to receive confirmation when tasks are completed so you can check them off your lists. Here are some ideas on how to receive confirmations:
Creativity within the team—This is a tough one because it starts with employing the right team members for specific job descriptions. Temperament types can give you some guidance as to who would be the best fit for certain duties. Empowering your team to "think outside the box" is the most important step that you can take but is also the most difficult. This means that you have to learn to place some trust in their decision-making abilities. You also must be willing to LISTEN to what they have to say and give feedback that is not judgmental.
Your team must feel "safe" for them to express their thoughts and feelings to you. Learn to embrace what they have to say and reply in a positive manner. This doesn't mean that you must agree with what they say, but at least acknowledge and thank them for their comments. If you continue to squelch what they have to say or make them feel stupid, they will stop communicating. At that point, you are on your own!
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old one leaves. —Bill Vaughan
We are all hoping that 2009 will be a better year with changes in the government, bailouts to help the economy and help for struggling homeowners. A pessimistic attitude about everything that happened last year must not undermine efforts to put our best effort forward to develop a great dental team and to serve our patients in new and better ways. Balancing a busy life in the dental practice with a fulfilling personal life is a priority, but sometimes it is not easy to do without direction and help.
Have you thought about personal or business resolutions for the New Year? Are they in writing? Writing them down and then asking for support from family and friends can certainly help get you going in the right direction and stay on track. Give a copy of your resolutions to people that agree to support you so that they can check on your progress at a given time during the year.
Here are some steps to help you reduce stress in the dental business arena and help direct you toward a better new year.
Set realistic production goals for the practice. Exceeding last year’s production goal may be more of a challenge in this economy. With the downturn of the economy hitting many areas of the country, it is unlikely that you will not be affected to some degree. In the best of times our goal is 15% growth each year. Make a goal to at least equal last year’s total for production by each provider’s statistics. (This does not include a yearly fee raise, which is recommended because costs of doing business rise accordingly.) During the first team meeting of 2009, set the goal and together decide how each person will contribute to make it happen. This would include examining the performance of each system in the dental practice, such as Recall, Scheduling, Treatment Presentations, Insurance/Financing and Hygiene.
Update job descriptions for the entire team with areas of accountability, feedback and performance measurements in place. The days of “we all do what needs to be done” are over because a lack of systems causes a tremendous amount of practice stress and just doesn’t work. Without well-defined job descriptions, there is no accountability and no way to measure whether tasks are being performed to goal. Without formal job descriptions, one person can easily blame another if things are not getting done because it is everyone’s job and yet no one’s responsibility.
Surround yourself with positive people and teammates who are motivated and value the practice ideals and goals. Slackers and negative people should not be tolerated in your dental practice. In most communities, there are many well-qualified people looking for work so job competition is at a record high. No longer do you have to grab any warm body to fill a position because of the lack of applicants.
Become active in social/business networking groups. Networking is not just good for the practice but also good for the participant. Getting out and socializing helps to decrease stress. Encourage the doctor to join the local Chamber of Commerce or other community groups. The doctor can attend the meetings or send the Business Coordinator/Manager as a business representative. Communicating the values and services of the practice with these groups can be very beneficial. Become an active member in your local dental society and support your dental community through fundraisers or educational programs.
Stay physically active and introduce an exercise plan for the team. The best stress buster is exercise. Start a lunch time walking group or get a treadmill or exercise bike for the staff lounge. Find a series of exercises that can be done at the desk or in the break room that are low-impact and involve stretching and toning. Encourage a stress-reducing break every couple of hours and support each team member in the process.
Make a list of your personal and professional accomplishments. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back. Building self-esteem is ongoing and important to decreasing personal stress.
Post a picture of a place or thing that makes you feel good. It could be something you already have or something that you have always wanted. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a red convertible or maybe a vacation to an exotic port like Tahiti. Cut a picture out of a magazine or travel brochure and put it up where you can see it every day. Not only is it a stress buster because it reminds you that there is more to life than work, but it also helps you focus on tasks at hand because you will visualize a future goal that is exciting.
Sign up for some continuing education or other training classes to improve your job skills or to learn new skills that will benefit you and the practice. Set a goal to get updated on the latest in your computer software and teach the other members of the team.
Write a personal/business plan for meeting your goals within a time schedule. You cannot reach a goal without a plan and a timeline. Stay focused. If something happens to throw off your schedule, don’t get derailed or give up. Never give up.
Want help with business goals and training that will get you results? Sign up today for Advanced Business Training at McKenzie Management and start the New Year right.
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