6.6.14 Issue #639 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Satisfaction Is Up, But Employees Are Out
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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In case you’ve missed the latest news on employee workplace attitudes, you’ll be glad to know that workers are doing less whining and are happier than they’ve been in recent years. Overall, employees are reporting that they are much more content in their current jobs than they were just months ago. Last year, nearly 70% of employees were unhappy. This year, a mere 46% are discontented.

That’s good news for employers…or is it? According to a recent Salary.com survey, keeping employees happy these days isn’t necessarily enough to keep them on your payroll. In fact, their latest survey reveals an interesting irony - although they are generally happier in their jobs, 83% of the 1,200 employees surveyed reported that they are scanning the marketplace for new employment opportunities.

So why are so many more workers looking to change their employment situation? The answer is simple: money. Nearly one-third of those surveyed said an increase in pay would encourage them to stay where they are. However, money isn’t the only reason employees cite as cause for dusting off their resumes - lack of advancement opportunities and lack of appreciation rounded out the top three reasons why workers are looking for greener pastures. It is yet another reminder that quality employees are hard to find and even harder to keep.

But as this latest survey reveals, factors that are well within the employer’s control weigh heavy on whether workers will wander. So the obvious question is, what are you doing to keep your top players from becoming free agents? After all, you have far more control over your employment rolls than many of you realize, starting with the least expensive and most effective employee retention tool in your toolbox: appreciation.

In general, dentists, like many employers, tend to think about thanking and recognizing their employees around the holidays. The gifts, the parties, the bonuses are doled out. Everyone celebrates and then the doctor withdraws to the treatment rooms and the employees resume their respective positions around the office. Keep the momentum of good cheer and goodwill going throughout the year and it will pay huge dividends in retaining quality staff.

Summer is an excellent time to rev up your rewards program. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect opportunity to establish it. As I spell out step-by-step in my book “How to Reward Your Dental Team,” a well-constructed rewards program has specific criteria and objectives. Ultimately, the program should be designed to work for the good of the practice and to help move the practice and the team toward established goals. Be sure to ask for input from the team and involve them in designing the program. You want to know what motivates them to excel. If they are instrumental in creating the program, they will appreciate the recognition all the more. Additionally, it’s important to establish a budget. This encourages creativity and underscores the fact that recognition need not be synonymous with bonuses or high-dollar gifts.

Keep in mind that people respond differently to different forms of appreciation. One employee will beam in the spotlight when she is recognized in a staff meeting, while another will shun the individual attention. And while it may be easy, a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition and appreciation is ineffective. However, there is no substitute for genuine displays of thanks and appreciation. If you tell everyone that they are “the best,” your words eventually become hollow. Keep it real. Keep it sincere. 

Invest in your team. When it comes to rewarding high performing employees, continuing education opportunities are a commonly preferred perk. What’s more, CE can benefit the entire practice. If employees are learning new skills that energize them, they will be eager to put them into practice - resulting in improved systems, better patient education, and increased treatment acceptance.

While you’re at it, don’t overlook the immediate and obvious benefits of catching employees at their best. On the spot rewards in the form of gift cards - $5 to a favorite coffee shop, $10 for a nearby lunch spot or iTunes card, or $20 for Amazon.com - can be ideal for recognizing excellence immediately. The program should be flexible, so that bigger rewards can be tailored toward the specific interests of the employee(s) recognized.

Ensuring that your employees feel appreciated and valued will ensure that the program achieves its intended purpose – motivation, recognition, and achievement of overall practice goals.

Next week, 4 rules to motivate with money.

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

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Is Performance or Likeability Leading Your Team?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

In the world of owning a dental practice, would you rather be well-liked by all or respected for your work ethic? Which characteristic do you place a higher value for an employee: great personality or great performance? Both? Let’s put the possibilities to the test.

From experience working with many dental teams across the US and Canada, it becomes apparent in the first hour or two whether likeability or performance takes command over the team. There is usually denial that there is any favoritism shown toward any particular team member when performance measurements are discussed. However, I hear the following: “All the patients love her, but she doesn’t collect the right amount of money at the time of service” Or “Yes, we do put up with him being late every day because when he is here he works harder than any of the other assistants and is very funny.”

The team member being overlooked in this situation is the financial coordinator, who now has to follow-up with the patient who didn’t pay at the time of service, and the other dental assistant who is there on time and has to always take the first patient.

Sometimes the definition of playing favorites is not obvious unless you rate your own behavior. Most people are attracted to those who like them, but in the workplace this can get out of control. If your recognition of your team is linked to how well they like you versus how well they perform, you could be encouraging an environment of “brown-nosing” or saying what you want to hear instead of looking at the performance facts.

As CEO or team leader, ask the following:
1. Is it important that I am liked by my employees? How much?
2. Is it important that my employees be like me? How much?
3. What is the employee’s dedication to the practice and the patients?
4. How much personal recognition do I give the employees? Some more than others?

Performance Measurements are an important part of practice management because they set a standard by which each job description or job position can be held accountable for a set of duties necessary for the practice success. It is great when patients love the scheduling coordinator, but not good when money is not collected. During a Performance Measurement of this employee, a high mark would be for likeability and a low mark for collecting monies. Both characteristics need to be addressed, because both are necessary for this position. It is possible to be well liked by the patients and also be a good collector. 

For the dental assistant who is late every day, a low score for attendance and a high score for job skills. For the dental assistant who takes the first patient every day, a high score for work ethics and patient care. 

Set up a schedule for performance reviews for each team member in the yearly calendar. Make every effort to stick to the schedule, otherwise you risk sending the message that it is not important. As CEO rely on your own observations and interactions with each team member.  Don’t skip team meetings or morning huddles, as this is where feedback is given in regards to job performance and patient concerns. Stay connected with the team so that you will not be sideswiped by those team members who may want to be “your friend”.

If you have an Office Manager who is handling performance reviews, make sure that this person is trained to be unbiased in making employee assessments and is not swayed by favoritism. Have regular meetings with your Office Manager to discuss any staffing issues or performance issues before they become problematic.

Many offices move talent up the ranks without the proper training, mostly due to seniority or because they are likeable. Most dental assistants who desire to be managers have not had the training necessary for this position. Invest in the practice by investing in their success. Need help in managing your practice? Need to train your office manager? Call today and sign up for our next business management training session and get professional systems in place in your practice.

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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Gene St. Louis
VP Practice Solutions
McKenzie Management
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Why Practice Advertising Fails
By Gene St. Louis

So you recently decided to create a Facebook page for your practice. You are convinced that it will be the turning point. The phones will be ringing, the patients will be lined up and signing on for treatment, and you will be smiling all the way to the bank. Until you realize the phones are not ringing. The schedule isn’t brimming with patients. And you’re not smiling.

It’s easy to get caught up in the lure of what seems to be a “quick fix” to your  marketing challenges. But the thing about marketing is that while various tools, techniques, and mediums offer multiple opportunities to connect and share information with your current and prospective patients, not one of them is a guarantee to higher profits. Rather, it’s the rock-solid steady plan implemented over time that will yield the greatest long-term results.

You see, marketing isn’t any single activity. It’s more than an open house for your patients. It’s more than a Facebook page, or a blog, or an ad, or a logo, or a jingle, or a tweet. In fact, it’s all of those and so much more.

While many dentists will fret and worry about where they should invest their limited advertising dollars, in actuality the external marketing is merely frosting on the cake that is your total marketing effort. Certainly, you need it. But what keeps patients returning and new patients calling is the blockbuster internal marketing plan that is carefully executed. Yet time and again, dentists never consider this fundamental step. They invest thousands in external advertising initiatives only to have them utterly destroyed by untrained and ill-prepared staff.

Your most effective – or disastrous – marketing is taking place in those seemingly inconsequential exchanges between your staff and your patients. However, very few dentists ever consider that. They simply assume that patient/customer service is either excellent or pretty darn good, until they pull back the curtain. When they are ready to remove the veil, they start to pay attention to the exchanges that are occurring between patients and staff. Such as …

How easy or difficult is it for patients to secure treatment financing? Do you offer CareCredit? Is the focus more on making sure the patients know “the rules” of the practice, or emphasizing that you and your team are thankful they chose your practice and are happy to help them receive the treatment they need and want?

How often are staff reinforcing the value of care? Are they bending the patient’s ear about their personal problems or talking about the latest CE that you have completed and what that means to the patient sitting in the chair?

How well are these ambassadors of your practice carrying out their responsibilities in representing your mission and vision for your business? Are staff conflicts and turf wars wearing on your patient relations, and most importantly, on your overall patient retention?

And finally, if you ask the tough questions what are your honest responses? If I were a patient, is this how I would want to be treated? Would I feel good about coming here and recommending my friends and family?

Although we’ve known for years that excellent customer service is the central ingredient in building and maintaining a successful business, weak or poor patient/practice interactions continue to plague dental offices driving patients away. Why? Dentists, like other service providers, simply assume that staff are handling patient exchanges effectively and the promises that they profess in their marketing are being upheld.

For example, offices will advertise that patients have minimal wait time, only to leave them sitting for 30 minutes. They claim to have “friendly and helpful staff” yet give little attention to what the words “friendly and helpful” mean to the patient. They declare that they are state-of-the-art because they use digital imaging or CEREC, but they give little attention to the dated décor and fraying carpet.

Make sure that the messages you send externally are backed up internally. Does the patient experience live up to what you’ve promised in your slick campaign? Certainly, well-executed marketing will get the phones ringing, but whether the patient makes the appointment, proceeds with treatment and becomes a long-term loyal advocate of your practice will be directly influenced by what happens after they’ve been lured in by your catchy promotion.

In the end, it’s their interaction with you and your staff that will dictate whether they return, not that clever ad or latest Facebook post. 

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

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