What to Do When Good Employees Go Bad
We’ve all seen it. They were really good, you could count on them. They delivered consistently…until they didn’t. In some cases, the shift happened seemingly overnight; in others, it happened over time. What went wrong? Can they ever get their “mojo” back?
Oftentimes, good employees get frustrated and get stuck. They start exhibiting the same behaviors that they dislike in their “average” or “poor” counterparts. They start wallowing in the muck. “So-and-so doesn’t work as hard as I do, but still gets raises. No one else is willing to offer suggestions, why should I. My efforts don’t really matter. The boss only listens to her favorites” and so on.
Understandably, it can be disheartening to put forth real effort only to feel that you are disregarded or not appreciated. But the thing about being a good employee is that while you might get discouraged, self-pity isn’t dominant in your DNA. You can’t tolerate it for long. And the best way to deal with the frustrations inherent in virtually any job is to step up your own “A-game”. Conduct a personal inventory of your strengths and build upon them. For example:
1. Don’t just be a team player, be a sincere example to others. That means looking for opportunities to step in where you are needed without complaining or saying it’s not your job. It means getting along with everyone – not just those you like – and bringing a positive, helpful, and respectful attitude to every interaction with patients, coworkers, and others. It means being a resource, sharing experience and information, and doing so consistently, not just when you feel like it. You’re a good employee, so don’t be selective about demonstrating that.
2. Learn something new. Read the journals and learn about best practices in the dental office. There are numerous resources available, from online newsletters, dental society publications and professional journals, that can give you tips and ideas on how to improve every practice system including tracking production, more effectively using the computer system, controlling overhead, creating a superior new patient experience, and the list goes on and on. Continually look for ways in which you can improve both your own area as well as practice systems as a whole. Share what you learn with the team either through copies of articles, offering to conduct a mini-workshop during a staff meeting, or over a lunch and learn with co-workers.
3. You’re good but you’re not perfect, and it’s okay to recognize it. Be open to constructive criticism. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and oftentimes they are one in the same. The get-things-done gal, “Jenny” may be the one who doesn’t give up until the job is complete. She’s driving through to the goal and nothing is going to stop her. Doctor said he wants to be scheduled to meet a certain production goal every day, and Jenny rises to the challenge. Doctor will make that and more! Only problem is that Jenny has him running non-stop from dawn till dusk. When he says this isn’t exactly what he had in mind, Jenny takes offense. There’s room for improvement in all of us. Direction, guidance, and even criticisms can help us become more effective contributors to the team. Be open to continuous improvement. It’s more than a catchphrase; it’s a way of life and work.
4. Develop an ownership attitude. Take full responsibility for those systems you are responsible for and commit to making them highly efficient and effective. Provide solutions, not problems. If you are aware of a system, such as collections, that is not as effective as it needs to be for the practice to control overhead, don’t ignore it and wait for the doctor to intervene. Offer to research best practices for collections and bring back a proposal for how the office might implement a more effective system. If the practice has a string of new patients coming in and never returning, offer to head up a sub-committee to identify ways to improve the new patient experience. Improving the practice as a whole is everyone’s job.
The dentist doesn’t have all the answers. Take the initiative to explore new ways to conduct business, increase profitability, and improve systems overall and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the indispensable team player.
Next week, are you running “poor to barely average”?
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Dental Communication Through Scripting
What is said, who is saying it, how it is said and when it is said are the keys to dynamic verbal communication in a dental practice. Our words are the most powerful tool we have for patient compliance, patient education and building rapport and trust with everyone we come in contact with during a busy day in a dental practice.
One of the criticisms of scripting is that it can sound canned or robotic. To eliminate this, it is important for the person saying the script to understand the reason or motivation behind saying certain words - not just the order to “say this” as written. When developing the script, seek input from the front-line employees whose responsibility will be the outcome of using the scripts. Encourage their input for improvement or customization to fit the practice philosophy or environment. Explain when scripts should be used and who should be using them.
Practice the scripts with the team during a staff meeting. Just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will sound great when actually used. Engage in roleplaying and practice the scripts in typical office scenarios where scripting is critical for patient and staff communication. Practice will allow you to work out the phrasing and timing of the words so the conversation is natural and pleasing.
Ask team members to use the scripting. Despite our best efforts at developing great scripts that communicate clearly and effectively, we can’t assume people are using them. Assess the frequency and quality of scripting through observation and conversations with staff. Ask employees how the scripts could be improved and to share examples of best practices.
When practicing using scripts in communication it is important to remember your body language. Scripting typically refers to what words to use and when, but words are only a part of effective communication. Eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, etc. all impact the message we are trying to convey. Scripting is a tool in communication, it is not the goal. The goal is realized when the message that you are attempting to convey is received and understood.
When you have crafted a good script to fit situations that happen over and over again in your dental office, you do not have to reinvent what to say. For instance, a patient is late for their hygiene appointment by 15 minutes, and the hygienist needs 50 minutes to treat them. What should the scripted response be? There is a system to help prevent this situation, but that is another article. Let’s say the script goes like this:
Patient: “I’m sorry I am late.”
If there is a way to see the patient today, the Scheduling Coordinator then says: “Mr. Patient, we will be able to work you in today even though the time necessary to treat you is fifty minutes. We aren’t always this flexible because the time of your appointment is reserved just for you and we have another patient soon.”
If the schedule cannot accommodate the late patient, the Scheduling Coordinator will say: “Mr. Patient, we will not be able to work you in today because we no longer have enough time to give you the professional care necessary for your visit. Our next patient is due in thirty minutes. If you can wait for fifteen minutes, Dr. can do your professional examination today and we can reschedule you to see the hygienist for your cleaning another day. Would that work for you?”
If your office philosophy is to see all patients whether they are late or not, it is wise to have a script to help the patient understand that this is not what you prefer. Usually in this situation, the patient or patients will have to be informed that there will be some delay or some wait time involved when they are late. The message that you are conveying is that professional care requires the proper time to be scheduled to meet the needs of the patient.
Want to learn to role play, write professional scripts and perfect communication with your patients? Schedule a professional training class with McKenzie Management. Training programs can be viewed HERE.
6 Reasons Why Patients Turn Down Treatment
What is it about 3 a.m.? Suddenly you’re awake, your heart is pounding. You’re sweating. You feel a whoosh of panic. Your mind is racing. You realize you were dreaming about a treatment plan for your former neighbor Mrs. Jennings. How long has it been since she was in with her three kids? And what about Mr. Jennings?
Unfortunately, the wheels keep turning. You wonder, has Mr. Dodd scheduled that crown appointment? He said he would. He seemed like he understood why it was necessary. And what about Jenny the bride? She was really interested in whitening. What has she decided? One case and then another and another flips through your mind like a slideshow, and by 5 a.m. you’re wondering just what exactly is happening to case acceptance. How many patients are agreeing to treatment in the chair and then never following through? More than you think. And while many factors influence this, here are the top six.
1. You’re not using the technology tools available. It may not be convenient. You and your team may not have completed necessary training. You may be used to diagnosing and explaining procedures without them. Regardless of the reason, technology tools are a tremendous resource in helping patients to thoroughly understand the condition of their oral health and the importance of proceeding on your recommendations.
2. You fear the word “NO.” No one likes rejection. But few doctors consider the fact that the patient isn’t saying “no” they are saying “not now.” The patient isn’t ready to proceed for any number of reasons. However, that does not mean you and your team stop educating patients on their oral health conditions as well as the consequences of delaying necessary treatment.
3. You’re too busy to do a comprehensive hygiene exam. This requires a good look at your vision, goals, and scheduling systems. “Too busy” is often a sign of system inefficiencies.
4. There are no clear payment options. Studies show that patients avoid dental treatment due to cost more than pain. Yet if they feel that the costs measure up to the service received there is no complaint. Many patients will not question fees if the practice has demonstrated that they can deliver superior service. From the first phone call to dismissal, consistently demonstrate the “value” for services that the patient is receiving. Offer flexible payment options such as CareCredit.
5. There’s no defined follow-up system in place. Each day, the hygienist should select at least two or three patient records in the hygiene schedule for the upcoming week. Look for patients with outstanding incomplete dentistry diagnosed at the last visit, patients who have not completed procedures that had been started, and reactivated patients who need re-exams.
6. You and your team lack communication skills. Pay attention. Listen to what the patients want and why they are coming into the practice. Addressing the smaller issues and offering more conservative restoration options, provided that’s what is in the patient’s best interest, can be absolutely critical before recommending larger more extensive alternatives.
When presenting and discussing treatment options make it clear that you care. To paraphrase leadership guru John Maxwell, “Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Remind yourself and your team of that fact regularly. Next, get excited and get others excited. If you are talking to Mrs. Jones about her anterior crowns and exhibiting all of the enthusiasm of a chimney brick, don’t expect her to go gaga over what you are offering. Just as success breeds success, excitement in you will generate excitement in your patients.
Show enthusiasm, but keep it real. Talk about what makes sense for the patient now and over the long term, and together agree on what action will be taken and the next steps to get the process started. Remember that you do not practice in an ideal world where every case presentation is immediately accepted, scheduled, completed and paid for. Every dentist faces real world challenges that include procrastinating patients, fearful patients, unmotivated patients, financially concerned patients, spineless patients who allow others’ ill-informed comments and opinions to influence them, and insurance-only patients.
Expect delays, questions, hesitations, concerns, worry, and everything in between. And respond with patience, additional answers and clarifications. Be sincere and understanding. In most cases, when the patient is ready, feels well informed, and is prepared to make the necessary investment, they will proceed. And you both will be all the richer.
Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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