5.13.11 Issue #479 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Your New Employee Orientation Doesnít Work - And Itís Costing You Big
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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So you’ve hired another staff member for your team. Congratulations! Now what? In many dental practices, the new employee “orientation” goes something like this: the employee arrives that first day and is shown the phone, the computer, and the bathroom. S/he is given a few papers to sign and tossed into the water. Will s/he sink or swim?

For all the time, energy, and money that must be poured into the hiring process, one would think that dental teams would put forth greater effort to ensure there is a plan for success when the new employee enters the practice. Not so, in most cases.

All too often, we find that new employees - be they business assistants or associate dentists - are brought into a practice and left to drift along. They pick up kernels of information here and there, but, for the most part, they are single-handedly struggling to figure things out in order to become effective contributors to the team. Not surprisingly, important details fall through the cracks, procedures aren’t followed, and “issues” begin to arise. The problems escalate, yet rather than examining the systems, the finger-pointing begins. What should have been a positive experience turns into a hiring disaster. It could have and should have been avoided if a real plan to integrate employees into the position and the practice had been implemented the moment a job was offered.

Rest assured, dentistry isn’t the only profession lacking in this area. Businesses of all types and sizes have long looked at the new employee orientation as something of a transactional one-day event. However, in this hyper-competitive market in which employers have become far more selective in their hiring choices and dissatisfied employees often begin scanning the horizon for new opportunities within a few months on a new job, there is far greater appreciation for the bottom-line value of taking steps to ensure that the new employee will succeed.

Peak PerformanceThe days of the “employee orientation” are over. Today, it’s known as “onboarding,” a process of integrating new hires into the organization and its culture. This year-long course of action is designed to help ensure that the new hire understands the mission of the organization and is equipped with the necessary tools, re­sources, and knowledge to become successful and productive. Central to effective onboarding are activities that McKenzie Management has been advocating for many years, including clearly communicating performance expectations, providing ongoing feedback, and offering training opportunities.

More than the latest management trend, studies indicate that effective onboarding pays off. Research conducted by the Recruiting Round­table revealed that effective onboarding programs can improve employee performance by up to 11.3%. What’s more, the process helps the rest of the team better assess the new employee’s strengths and weaknesses, making it essential in evaluating whether the new hire will ultimately succeed in the position, long before serious problems arise. Additionally, the process can significantly reduce employee turnover as it enables the new hire to affirm their choice to accept the job. Research conducted by the Aberdeen Group found that 90% of employees decide whether or not they will stay in a position or begin look­ing for a new job during the first six months.

Other studies show that effective onboarding programs can improve employee retention by 25%. This can reduce the high cost of turnover that, by some estimates, costs organizations 30-50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% for mid-level employees and up to 400% for specialized, high-level employees.*  Moreover, in some cases it may take more than a year to recruit and train a suitable replacement, which further effects productivity and overall employee morale. 

Every employer hopes that new employees can hit the ground running.  Those that go through a comprehensive, structured onboarding process reach higher levels of productivity more quickly than those who do not - up to two months faster, in fact. In a small dental practice where the effectiveness of each employee has a profound impact on total practice success, ensuring that the new hire can be as effective as possible as quickly as possible only makes sense.

Next week, get your new employees onboard, step-by-step.

*Blake, Ross, “Employee Retention: What Employee Turnover Really Costs Your Company,” ManagerNewz.com (July 2006).

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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Frustrated with HIRING the WRONG people? Remove the guesswork. Employee Testing On-Line

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Are You Making The Right Connection?
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Often it has been said that the most successful dental practices have a dentist leader that knows how to make a positive connection with the staff as well as with patients. Building rapport with a patient is important because you want the patient to be a member of the practice family for many years. You want to motivate patients to be compliant and choose dental treatment that will improve their health.  Often dentists are good at that, but poor when it comes to building an excellent relationship with their team.  The key to understanding this is to know what the intention is in the relationship. From the clinical standpoint, doing dentistry for the patient in a caring and quality fashion is the intention for building the professional relationship. When it comes to relating to the staff, the intention becomes unclear. Take for example:

Dear Belle,

I don’t feel important where I work. I am always on time and do my job the way the doctor has told me he wants it done, and I get a paycheck. When I ask the doctor about a certain procedure or why something is done a certain way, the doctor says he will explain later, but later never comes. I have never had a performance review or been told “Great job.” The Office Manager says that I should not worry as a performance review would mean that I am not doing a good job and need to be disciplined. Am I wrong to want more connection where I work? 

-Bea Good, DA

Dear Bea,

Wanting feedback about your work is a normal and healthy request. For many dentists, performance reviews put them on an emotional roller coaster because the meeting is seen as confrontational or that it means a raise in salary is expected. A performance review should not be confused with a salary review, as they are different. A performance review would precede a salary review, as it is done to provide feedback on what the employee is doing great and what the employee should improve upon. Salary increases are based upon the performance of the practice and the individual performance of the team member.  Since you did not mention an increase in salary, I believe that you want a show of appreciation and a higher level of communication from your employer. Request in writing a performance review and have prepared ahead of time a list of what you have done to improve your skills since you were hired, anything that you have contributed to the benefit of the practice, and what you would like to do in the future to be the best you can be at your position. Presenting yourself this way should elicit a positive and appreciative response from your employer.

 As a dentist CEO, it is important to know your patients as individuals as well as know your team members as individuals - not personifications of job skills. When hiring individuals it is wise to ask yourself, “Is this someone I would enjoy spending 8 to 9 hours a day with?” If a position is filled with the thought of having very little contact with that person, then the intention needs to be communicated.  The assumption is that when someone has little to offer we avoid spending time with them; we make less eye contact, frown and close our body language. We may also interrupt their conversations more and be critical of what they say. The message is clearly communicated that, “You are not important.”

On the other hand, when we assume someone has valuable things to teach us we tend to want to spend more time with them and listen to what they have to say. We also inquire of their thoughts and praise more of their actions. Our body language is open, we smile more and nod our heads. When you are presenting treatment options to a patient, surely you would want the later response of listening, smiling and nodding in agreement!

Time and again, research has demonstrated that our assumptions shape the outcomes. If your employee does not feel important, valued or appreciated, after a while this will manifest in poor attendance and unsatisfactory performance - which will have a negative effect on the practice.

Want to become a better dental CEO and manage your practice to success? Call McKenzie Management today.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Jump Start Your Recall Program
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

“I have been in practice for almost 13 years and I only have 3 days of hygiene. Something must be wrong.”

Comments similar to this are common from doctors that call McKenzie Management.  Granted, there are also doctors who call in that haven’t thought about the fact that only having one hygienist after 10 years is an indication of a system breakdown, until we start doing the “math” and illustrate the following:

 If you average only 15 new patients a month x 12 months x 10 years, that equals 1,800 potential active hygiene patients. Let’s say that you are retaining only 50% of these patients, that is still 900 patients that are being seen at least 2x a year = 1,800 appointments. If you have 1 hygienist working 190 days a year and seeing 8 patients/day, she has the capability of seeing only 1,520 appointments. This reveals a deficit of 280 appointments / 8 appointments per day = 35 days short or 3 days a month.

This is nothing new to you if you read our weekly newsletters. I want to share something that you may be overlooking in your Recall System. Maybe you feel that you do have enough active patients but for some strange reason, there are still too many openings on the hygiene schedule and your Schedule Coordinator swears to you that she is doing all she can and is following the 5-step process:

  1. Notifying the patient a month prior to their due date or appointment
  2. Calling those patients that are currently due as well as one month past due
  3. Sending a nice friendly letter on letterhead stationery to the patients that are 2 months past due
  4. Calling and contacting by email, text or snail mail patients that are 6 months past due
  5. Finally, mailing a reactivation letter at 12 months past due, indicating the importance of maintaining their scheduled professional cleanings/periodontal maintenance appointments in order to keep their gums and teeth healthy

Loop Hole
As you know, your patients come at various “intervals” throughout the year, depending on what you and your hygienist feel is best to help the patient maintain good dental hygiene and reduce the bacterial colonization. These intervals could be 3, 4, 6, 9 or 12 months, depending on whether they are alternating with their periodontist, live out of town part of the year, etc. Your hygienist will make a clinical note at each visit indicating when the patient should be seen again, based on your recommendations.  For example:  NV – 3mo recall with 4 BWX and 2 PAs – 60 minutes (or 6 units).

Here is where your system will break down if you are not careful!  All dental software programs will default the recall interval at 6 months. If someone doesn’t manually open the patient’s information portion of the software and change the interval, the patient will remain at 6 months.

You may say, “So what - we schedule our patients in advance so even if the computer says 6 months, their appointment is made for 3 months.” Here lies the problem if you are not familiar with how your software works.

Running the Reports
The Patient Coordinator needs to contact the patients that are due for the upcoming month that do not have appointments. This includes patients that may have made an appointment but cancelled it at some point. She runs the report for all patients that are due for the month of June. Let’s say that Suzie Jones was seen 3 months ago and she is on a 3-month recall interval. However, it was not changed in her patient information, so she is still set on 6-mo intervals. Guess what? Her name will not be on the recall list and she won’t be contacted! Imagine if this is happening to 25% of your patients - their recall interval is not set accurately.

Loss of Treatment
Maybe when Suzie was in 3 months ago, you found a carious lesion on Tooth #31 and you told her that you would make a recommendation for treatment when she returned in June.  Unfortunately, she won’t be returning in June since her recall is set for September! Your treatment has now been delayed as a result of this “minor” oversight.

Loss of Hygiene Days
For patients that are supposed to come every 3 months, the hygienist has the potential of seeing them 4 times in a 12-month period, compared to 2 times for a patient that has an interval of 6 months. Calculate the dollar amount that is lost due to this error - it can be THOUSANDS of dollars in lost revenue. This error also leads to unscheduled time for your hygienist, creating an increase in her salary overhead compared to her production. Even more important, it is inaccurately reporting the number of hygiene days that are needed for your practice, as this calculation should be performed every 3-6 months to determine when to add more hygiene days or, when to reduce the number of hygiene days.

Work together as a team to ensure that your recall intervals are correct for all your hygiene patients. Review it at the morning meeting for accuracy. Establish the person in your office that is responsible for this very important task in order to grow your Hygiene Department and increase production for your practice.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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