6.7.13 Issue #587 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

The #1 Reason Dental Practices Struggle
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Imagine the panic that would sweep over you if you had just invested a huge sum of money in a new home, only to discover that those who built your house were never really trained to build homes. Not that they didn’t have any construction experience. In fact, they had plenty of experience building garages, but not family dwellings. Or what if you were lying in the hospital bed and the nurse was about to administer sedation and you heard her say, “I think I know how to do this. Dr. Jones showed me the procedure one day a while back when he had a few extra minutes.Happy Labor Day

Perhaps you brush off those scenarios as situations in which you wouldn’t allow yourself to be caught. Yet, you have likely placed your personal and professional livelihood firmly in the hands of someone who probably has very little training in the responsibilities that s/he is supposed to carry out. How many employees have you hired who are “experienced” but not prepared?

When faced with hiring employees to handle the business details, many dentists simply don’t know specifically what to look for, and they typically consider any experience to be quality experience. They review an applicant’s resume and see that s/he has worked in a dental office before, and automatically assume that the individual will bring a sufficient amount of know-how to the position. But just because someone has been in the ballpark doesn’t mean they are qualified to play in the game.

Typically, newly-hired business employees join practices and find themselves trying to figure out the systems as they go along. They are waiting for direction, guidance, some clue as to how the doctor wants things done. But the doctor simply assumes that if the employee carries the title of business manager, scheduling director, or whatever moniker the position holds, the new recruit automatically knows what is expected and what s/he is supposed to do. After all, the dentist carries the title of "Dr." and knows what to do!

The new employee, without direction otherwise, is forced to make assumptions that the protocols they followed in the previous office apply in this practice as well. Perhaps the last practice didn’t have a procedure for confirming appointments - the new employee simply doesn’t consider that this one might. The other practice may not have had a collections policy or an expectation that patients pay at the time of treatment. Consequently, the business employee thinks nothing of waving patients out the door and telling them that the practice will bill them for the services.

Doctors meanwhile will dismiss the clear indicators of an untrained or poorly trained team - collections are falling, accounts receivables are up, scheduling problems are increasing, appointment failures are escalating, and so on. Certainly, it’s much easier to assume that the daily mix-ups and frustrations are just part of life in the busy dental practice rather than face the possibility that those inefficiencies and shortfalls indicate a serious training deficiency.

As time goes on, the dentist concludes that the new employee just isn’t working out. After all, this person came with dental office experience; she should know what to do. The doctor told her that she would be in charge of collections. What’s not clear about collections? The doctor had high hopes for this new recruit and is disappointed that yet another employee just doesn’t seem to “get it.” Similarly, the new team member came on board optimistic about the opportunities the position offered, but has become very frustrated she can’t ever seem to get any clear direction as to what is expected. Neither is satisfied with the employment arrangement, yet both could reap the benefits of a successful working relationship if the practice would implement a training protocol for new employees.

Next week, training your team? Don’t do this.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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4 Reasons Why Your Practice Needs Job Descriptions
By Gene St. Louis

I often wonder why it is that some dental employers are so reticent to create job descriptions for employees, while others can’t imagine trying to operate effectively without them. Most often, those that don’t have them are largely convinced that job descriptions in their practices really aren’t necessary. Why? The typical response usually goes something like this: "Well, 'Jane' and 'Ellen' know what needs to be done and they just split those responsibilities evenly." Doesn’t that just sound so nice, and wouldn’t it be great if every office could be so fortunate?

Reality check: These doctors are dreaming and it will soon become a nightmare, guaranteed. In virtually every practice in which job descriptions do not exist, doctors assert that they don’t need them. Then we start to dig below the surface and evaluate why accounts receivables are high, why there is this current of tension and uneasiness that is percolating through the corridors, why the schedule has the team frantically racing to the finish line one day only to be parked in the starting gate the next, and the list goes on. I’d like you to consider four outcomes that job descriptions can enable you to achieve:

4. Peace and Harmony
Consistently, we find that dentists who are the most stressed and the least satisfied professionally and personally have non-existent or weak job descriptions. They resign themselves to frustrating financial results and less than stellar performance among staff. They also are the doctors most likely to assume that staff know what to do. Employees grumble and bicker, patients complain, “Jane” thinks that “Bob” should be doing more, “Bob” thinks that “Jane” acts like a princess. The doctor just wants them to do their jobs. The problem is that they are both perfectly happy carrying out those duties they like, but when it comes to those duties they view as “beneath” them they claim it’s the other person’s responsibility. Clear job descriptions ensure that Jane understands her duties and Bob understands his. Understanding who is responsible for what is the first and most essential step toward peace and harmony among the team.

3. Vision and Direction
Do you have a vision and do your employees know what it is? Vision is the ability to see your practice, not where it is today, but where you want it to be. If so, share your vision as well as your passion for achieving it. If you see the practice you want in your mind’s eye, and you share that with your team, you can provide the direction necessary - through the job descriptions - that enable you to develop the systems and strategies to make the vision your reality.

2. Accountability and Leadership  
Have you established clear, written expectations for every team member to ensure accountability? Job descriptions are the cornerstone of practice accountability, which is essential to creating a culture of success. If team members don’t take responsibility for their actions, there’s no accountability. But if there is accountability, the team can act quickly to solve problems when they arise and continuously monitor key systems to ensure they are functioning properly. Moreover, where there is accountability, there is ownership. If Jane is accountable for collections, she can take ownership of that system and become a leader in that area. Accountability builds trust and confidence among the entire staff.

1. Money and Freedom
When production and profits are on pace, it happens by design, not by accident. Staff turnover is minimized. Training protocols are in place. Specific goals for collections, production, and scheduling are in place. Holes in the schedule are minimal and they are managed. Unscheduled treatment is tracked. Performance measurements are ongoing. And opportunities to expand and enhance services are on everyone’s radar. You have cultivated more than a staff; you have created a team of leaders who can identify and distinguish between system hiccups and system breakdowns. You’ve achieved this because you started with one fundamental yet essential tool: the job description.

With job descriptions you begin to build the framework for peace and harmony in the practice, as well as buy into the vision and direction that you, the doctor, have set forth. From there, accountability and team leadership can take root, and the practice can flourish.

If you want to discuss how you or your team can improve accountability, call me at (877) 777-6151 or email Gene@mckenziemgmt.com to explore the possibilities.

Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email gene@mckenziemgmt.com

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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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The Exit Interview
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: an exit interview is a survey conducted with an individual who is separating from an organization or relationship. Most commonly, this occurs between an employee and an organization, a student and an educational institution, or a member and an association. An exit interview is a valuable tool to assess the reason a person is separating from an organization. Few other tools illustrate why the individual is separating, what he or she valued while at the organization, and what aspects of the organization need improvement in order to increase employee engagement, performance, and loyalty. An organization can use the information gained from an exit interview to assess what should be improved, changed, or remain intact. More so, an organization can use the results from exit interviews to reduce employee, student, or member turnover and increase productivity and engagement, thus reducing the high costs associated with turnover. Some examples of the value of conducting exit interviews include shortening the recruiting and hiring process, reducing absenteeism, improving innovation, sustaining performance, and reducing possible litigation if issues mentioned in the exit interview are addressed. It is important for each organization to customize its own exit interview in order to maintain the highest levels of survey validity and reliability.

So often I hear of a staff member, considered a good employee by the dentist, leaving abruptly for one reason or another. Unfortunately it is assumed that he/she is leaving for the reason that they gave to the dentist .Often this is not the case, but nothing is said or done to change the termination of the relationship. It is rare to hear of a dentist conducting an exit interview to gather feedback from the departing employee. Sadly, much time was invested in training the employee and the value of the relationship this employee has with the team and with the patients is not considered when the employee gives notice. Some dentists question the loyalty of the terminating employee and do not want to engage in a conversation. For example, consider the following scenario:

Joelle came to work in Dr. B’s dental office as a front office helper. She had been a dental assistant and wanted to learn the front desk position. Her duties were to schedule appointments for the doctor and the hygienists, greet the patients as they arrived, enter patient information including insurance information, and verify coverage.    She also scanned documents, retrieved the mail, pulled charts and confirmed patients by email, text or calling. The Office Manager came in later in the morning and frequently took long lunch breaks, often leaving Joelle to make decisions concerning patients’ payment agreements. The Office Manager usually found fault with Joelle’s financial arrangements and complained to the doctor that Joelle was driving up the accounts receivables. She continued to ride Joelle for not collecting the proper amounts or making the right arrangements. Joelle decided to quit in frustration. She later said that she did not want to quit, but her lack of training and experience made her feel as if she should quit. Joelle did not tell Dr. B about her problem because the Office Manager would be involved also.

In this case, if an exit interview had been arranged, Joelle might have voiced her frustration with lack of training and support for limited experience in collections and financial arrangements. With proper training she may well have succeeded beyond expectation and the need to hire another person to replace her may not have been necessary.

When employees resign, it is wise to ask them to participate in an exit interview with the dentist CEO. The purpose of the discussion is to allow the employee a chance to talk freely about the reason for leaving. The information is to be considered confidential and is to be used to help the practice improve its patient services and working conditions.  The exit interview will also include information on the office policies concerning medical coverage, disability coverage, unemployment insurance and arrangements for the transfer of funds from pension plans. 

Some suggested questions to ask in an exit interview are the following:

  • What are your main reasons for leaving?
  • What did you like most/least about this practice?
  • What, if improved, would make you stay?
  • Would you recommend this practice to others as a good place for dental care and/or to work?

To master the skills of Dental Office Management, sign up today for professional business training at McKenzie Management.

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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