7.22.11 Issue #489 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

10 Point Plan for Practice Success
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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For every millionaire business owner, for every superstar employee, for every blockbuster boss, success usually comes down to a couple of fundamental strategies that are best summed up with three words - commitment, focus, and action. The concepts seem simple enough on their face; it’s consistently putting them into practice that presents the greatest challenge. For those who struggle with turning the dream into reality, I share my 10 Point Plan for Practice Success.

Point #1: Define Your Idea of Success
Establish goals, implement your strategy, evaluate the outcomes, and adjust as necessary. This is how successful people become successful. From the most routine task to the most complex objective there is a defined goal, a plan for achieving it, and a means to assess what worked and what didn’t. Ask the hard questions and don’t look for easy answers. Be honest with yourself and seriously consider how well the strategy is working. Just because you have a goal and a well-defined plan of action doesn’t mean that it will yield the results you want and expect. Be open, willing, and ready to adjust as needed.

Point #2: Play to Win - New Patients and Those That Are On the Fence
Your practice is competing with any number of dental offices in your community. What sets yours apart? Why should patients choose your practice over the one around the corner? Why should existing patients come back? What are you doing to make them feel special? You are replaceable… unless you and your team create an environment in which patients don’t even consider going somewhere else. It’s profoundly simple, but too often teams are too lazy or don’t care enough to do so. What does it take? A few fundamentals: A cohesive team and a welcoming environment where patients feel appreciated, a staff that is genuinely friendly and helpful, excellent dentistry, and superior service. Each can be achieved with clearly defined practice management systems.

Point #3: Yes People Are a “No-No”
If your staff do not question you, disagree with you, or offer differing opinions at least on occasion, you are surrounded by “yes” men and women who are afraid to comment on the emperor’s new clothes, which will eventually leave you standing naked and alone. If there is nary a thread of dissent in your ranks today, the seeds of trouble are likely being sewn. You have possibly created a culture of fear, where those who question you or bring up new or different ideas are summarily shot down and probably publicly humiliated. Or you have a crew of employees who show up and don’t really care - another major problem - or you have a team of people who are too much alike and cannot see different perspectives. This makes the workday go smoothly, but it’s not necessarily good for advancing the practice in new areas.

Peak PerformancePoint #4:  Embrace the Thorny Challenges
The most difficult and painful experiences are the pathway to the greatest opportunities. Case in point: The unhappy patient, who gives you an earful of everything you never wanted to hear and would have preferred not to know, has done you a huge favor. The moment is painful. The reflection on what they tell you is difficult to bear. But if you embrace the experience and are willing to look at how the practice can be bettered because of it, you will make huge strides. The hurdles, challenges, and difficulties - be they with staff, patients, or finances - are most likely an indication that your practice systems are not functioning properly. When they are, you will experience a level of success and professional satisfaction that you never thought “work” could offer.

Point #5: Don’t Accept Status Quo
The words “We’ve always done it this way” should be used rarely and to refer to such things as “We’ve always taken steps to ensure the highest level of patient safety and satisfaction.” But if those words are used as a shield to avoid necessary growth and change among the team and within the practice, they create a huge cultural barrier to practice improvement.

Next week, the remaining Top 5 Points to Practice Success.

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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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Routing Slips… Why Do I Need Them?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

Do you know what all the reports are used for in your practice management software?  Probably not…and that is okay! However, communication among the team members is vital to the success of a dental practice, as you well know.  When we ask employees to list their Top 10 Pet Peeves, they almost always say a “lack of communication” in the office.

There is no doubt in my mind, as a successful consultant, that one vital tool is not in your computer - and that is wireless headsets. Yes, the same kind that you see in Old Navy, restaurants and many other businesses.  All these companies can’t be wrong, and if you have not implemented them in your office, you are missing out.

Missing out on what?

  • The ability to communicate without looking at your computer if you are using a messaging system
  • Communicating without leaving your workstation or having to be at your workstation

 In no uncertain terms, in my opinion, the routing slip is the #1 most important communication tool in your office. Not sure what it is? Ask your business manager to print one from your software (she may need to contact support in order to learn how) and review it with me:

Demographic Information
The top part of the form includes all the necessary information about the patient, such as name, address, telephone numbers, insurance information that includes unused dental benefits, and account balances. Also, you will find medical alerts, account and patient notes, recall notes and other memo-type information that pertains to the patient.

Family Members
A list of all the additional family members that are attached to this patient is located here, including their recall information and whether they are scheduled or not.  This is very important in order to maintain healthy patient retention.

Scheduled Treatment
There is an area that lists all the treatment that has been included with this appointment, as well as any notes that may have been added, such as “check upper left side” or even the patient’s “portion” of payment.

Unscheduled Treatment
This is the most important area of the routing slip, because it indicates additional opportunities for increasing production without having to dig through the patient’s paper record or even their digital record. It is right here!

I know, I know. You are “paperless.” Really? I have yet to visit an office that is “paperless” that doesn’t have paper. “Chartless” I will agree to. If you doubt it, look in your shredder.

How is the Routing Slip Implemented?
Depending on the number of business staff that you have, the hygiene routing slips are printed and reviewed by the Hygiene Coordinator. The doctor’s routing slips are printed and reviewed by the Schedule Coordinator. This task allows them to become familiar with the patients being seen the next day and assists in expediting the morning meeting, as they highlighted the areas of importance, such as past due family members, unscheduled treatment, birthdays, medical alerts that could affect treatment, financial concerns and unused insurance benefits, as well as the treatment that is scheduled for the patient.

The routing slips are now made available (along with the paper record if applicable) for the clinical team to review prior to the morning meeting. They are looking for discrepancies in the treatment, lab cases not delivered, etc.

During the morning meeting, the routing slips’ pertinent information is shared with the team, as well as a review of the schedule for “hiccups.” Most importantly, the production totals are presented from the previous day for celebration and production totals for today to help meet production goals.

Now what?
The routing slips are used in the treatment rooms to confirm treatment that was completed by checking, drawing a line through, or adding to the existing list of treatment.  If the next visit is part of a treatment plan on the routing slip, this should be circled and the time indicated for scheduling.

As the assistant dismisses the patient to the Schedule Coordinator, the routing slip is presented to her, along with the patient. At this point, the Schedule Coordinator knows exactly what was performed today, as well as what to schedule next.

In order to balance the production at the end of the day for each provider, the routing slips can be used to confirm that the production was posted to the correct provider.  Once this task is completed, the routing slips can be permanently retired.

In the world of “chartless,” routing slips are especially important, as they become a disposable paper record that is used for only this appointment to improve the communication of the entire team and increase the knowledge of each patient.

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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Nancy Haller, P.h. D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Leadership Positivity: In Praise of Praise
Nancy Haller, Ph.D., Leadership Coach McKenzie Management

As scientists study the brain and learn more about how we achieve optimal functioning, the term positivity has finally captured business leaders' interests. What researchers are discovering about positive emotions at work is essential knowledge for dental leaders who want to take their practices to higher levels of performance.

Being positive isn't simply about being nice and giving in, nor does it mean avoiding tough conversations with under-performing employees. Both are critical for optimal performance - but the desire to be recognized, praised, and considered important is our deepest need. Yet in a study done by the Saratoga Institute in California, considered by many to be the world leader in third-party exit interviewing and employee-commitment surveying, 60% of employees say they feel ignored or taken for granted.

The bottom line: Praise more than you criticize.

 Researchers actually tabulated the number of times people in a corporate setting were criticized and how many times they were praised by their boss. When there was one praise for each criticism, people felt as though they had a totally negative relationship with their boss. When the ratio was changed to two praises to one reprimand, people still thought their boss was all over them. It wasn’t until they got to a ratio of four praises to one criticism that people began to feel as if they had a good relationship with their boss!

Think of the power of a reprimand - or even the perception of a reprimand - if one negative word can only be balanced by four positive words. It’s clear that if you as a dental leader don’t start giving a lot of praise, the people who work for you will see you are negative and unfair. Every time you criticize someone, hopefully you’ll make it a point to catch that person doing something right four times - and you’ll give them a praise.

The 4:1 positivity-to-negativity ratio is the tipping point for individuals and business teams to go from average to flourishing. When you experience and express four times as much positive as negative emotion, you pave the way for excellence and high performance. Most of us experience a ratio of 2:1 (or less).

Despite these scientific findings, many dental leaders are hesitant to offer praise. The most ridiculous reason for not praising that I’ve heard is, “If I praise someone a lot, she’ll slack off.” Certainly you don’t want to praise “too much.” That's a legitimate concern. The key is to avoid empty, unearned praise. Remember, the praise must be truthful and specific – i.e. not "Nice job" but "Thank you for being so attentive to Mr. Jones this morning when the office was so busy. It really helped everyone to feel calmer.” Praise should be tied to clear expectations and performance standards. Without these, praise has no context or meaning.

Human performance is inconsistent - even world-class athletes have off days. Yet, many dental leaders focus on their employees' shortcomings when coaching and providing feedback. Sure we all have "opportunities for improvement," but by identifying and building on employees’ strengths you will produce better results than focusing on faults. Next time you're evaluating someone, remember that your goal is to raise their average performance, not critique a particularly good or bad day.

Don't hold back the praise because of a few missteps. It's just as important to recognize and reinforce strengths as it is to point out where people fall short.

Praise strengthens the relationships you have with your staff. They need to know you care about them enough to pay attention to what they are doing. They also want to know their contributions are genuinely appreciated. Employees who frequently receive appropriate praise for positive contributions are often more receptive to corrective feedback. When you show that you have your employees’ best interests at heart, they are more open to hearing how they can improve.

One of the most basic findings in psychology is that rewarding a specific behavior increases the likelihood of the behavior being repeated. Praise serves as an important reward and motivator for good work. Praise people when they do things right and they will do it more. Better yet, others will follow their lead.

Here’s my challenge to you. Keep track of your praise-to-criticism ratio. Over the course of a typical day, count the number of times you voice positive to negative statements. Then record the totals at the end of each day. Tally your count on a weekly basis. Avoid relying on tangible, easy-to-implement solutions revolving around pay, benefits, and trendy perks. The most powerful solutions revolve around the more challenging intangibles, such as leadership positivity.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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