11.14.14 Issue #662 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

How to Craft the Perfect Job Description
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Finally, it’s over...or at least that’s what you thought when you welcomed Superstar Steve to your team. He had everything you were looking for in an employee – the skills, the charm, the experience. But so far he just isn’t cutting it, and the thought of letting him go and starting the hiring process over has put you in panic mode.

When this happens, take a step back and really look at the situation. Maybe, just maybe, Superstar Steve isn’t the problem. No matter how much experience he has or how good he is at his job, he can’t read your mind (as convenient as that would be). New hires, and any employee for that matter, look to you, the CEO, for clear direction. If you’re not providing it, you’re setting your employees up to fail, and that means they can’t help your practice succeed.

Fight it all you want, but if your goal is to be the proud owner of a successful, profitable dental practice (and I bet it is) you have to develop detailed job descriptions that outline each position’s responsibilities, as well as your expectations. Think of job descriptions as success plans for every position, not just something else to check off your to-do list.

I know this can be a daunting task, but if you break it down you’ll find it’s pretty manageable. Start by defining the job. What exactly do you expect the person filling the position to do? Greet patients? Go over treatment benefits and financial obligations with patients? Meet a specific daily production goal? Include every responsibility and task, no matter how small it seems, in every job description.

From there, think about the skills necessary to excel in the role. Does the job require someone who is well-organized, and who knows how to navigate your practice management software? Do you need a good listener who can also handle rejection? Base the skill set you’re looking for on what you know from previous experience, or on what your consulting coach recommends.

Before you’re done, you must outline specific job responsibilities and duties. Believe me, the more specific you are the better. Don’t just say the Patient Coordinator tracks and calls patients on the broken appointment list. Instead, say the Patient Coordinator tracks and calls patients on the broken appointment list to schedule five appointments a day, and reports progress to doctor during weekly meeting. See the difference? Bottom line, make sure it’s clear which systems the position is accountable for, and how performance will be measured.

Now you might be thinking, OK Sally, this is all great, but what if my employees use the job description against me? I ask Missy to perform a task, and she politely smiles and reminds me that isn’t in her job description.

Sadly this demonstrates that Missy isn’t much of a team player, but you can protect yourself from this kind of retort. In every job description, add a line that makes it clear employees are expected to perform any other duty as directed by the doctor or supervisor. This ensures employees can’t throw the job description in your face when you need them to take on new tasks. And don’t forget you can amend any job description as needed, just be sure to share the changes with your team. 

This seems to be difficult for many dentists to understand, but just because you talked about specific job responsibilities during the interview, or your new hire worked at another dental practice for five years, doesn’t mean the employee innately knows your expectations, or even the job’s basic responsibilities for that matter. Job descriptions provide the clear, detailed direction employees need to succeed in their roles and ultimately enhance the practice. Without them, your employees are just floating along, wondering what to do next, totally disconnected from the practice and likely hoping they can find a job with the dentist down the street.

That’s right, lack of direction also effects employee satisfaction and team morale. Employees crave the direction and leadership that will not only help them excel in their positon, but also make them feel like they’re a valuable part of the team, providing contributions that are vital to the practice’s success.

If the thought of creating job descriptions still leaves you in a cold sweat, fear not doctor, I can help. In my more than 30 years of experience, I’ve seen a lot of job descriptions, and know what works and what doesn’t. If you visit my website HERE you’ll find general job descriptions for every practice position. You’ll likely need to alter them to fit your practice needs, but these documents offer a jump start, and will help you create detailed job descriptions that lead to happier employees, a more efficient dental practice and a growing bottom line.

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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Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Is Your Office Like Reality TV? Get Rid of Workplace Drama
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

The Complainer. The Cynic. The Controller. The Martyr. These are just a few of the dramatic roles that can show up in dental practices. If you’ve experienced any of these, then you know it takes just one whiner, one troublemaker, one office gossip to cripple a team and destroy morale. Workplace drama wreaks havoc, resulting in fighting and turf wars that drain energy and diminish productivity.

Unfortunately, dental leaders often avoid dealing with drama in the workplace, or deal with it badly, for one of two reasons – they lack the skills to address difficult interpersonal topics, and/or they’re fearful that confrontation will make matters worse. More than a few clients have told me, “I just don’t get it. Why can’t they just do their work? It’s like dealing with children.”

As tempting as it is to ignore the problem, once negativity has started to infect your team, it’s hard to contain the damage. If you are sitting and waiting for things to improve, you are not a leader, you’re a follower. Stop griping about how Mary isn’t carrying her weight or that she has an ongoing tiff with Jane. Wishing and hoping won’t change things. It’s time to get some backbone, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I doing or not doing that is causing this team to fall apart?” You’re the one in charge and you need to take command, albeit diplomatically.

It starts with a serious and formal conversation that is done privately. The best location would either be in your office, with the door closed, or in a neutral setting like a conference or break room. Communicate expectations clearly in terms of performance and behavior. For example, emphasize that while she has excellent technical skills, Mary also needs to have positive interpersonal behavior such as helpfulness and cooperation with co-workers. Although she does not need to ‘like’ everyone on the team, she absolutely must be respectful no matter how upset she is.

Identify the gap between expectations and observed behavior. Be specific by focusing on changeable actions. For Mary these might include rolling her eyes when team members ask questions or suggest ideas, coming back late from lunch, making personal phone calls or surfing the internet during work hours, and talking in a loud and demeaning tone to others. Stay focused on what Mary says and does in the most concrete descriptions.

Clarify the rewards of meeting the expectations – i.e. job security, future opportunity, appreciation and value to the practice. Be sure to express your appreciation to Mary and emphasize what a great job she does with insurance and billing. Let her know that you want her to continue to work with you and that she needs to make changes in her behavior.    

Spell out the consequences of not meeting expectations. Voice concern to Mary that the way she has treated co-workers suggests she is not happy. Underscore that you want her to feel satisfied and enjoy her job. Avoid ultimatums. Focus on the impact of poor performance, to the team, to patients and ultimately to the employee. Allow Mary the opportunity to choose her own path. One road leads to rewards, and the other is the option to leave. Your practice may not be the best place for Mary if she can’t get along with the other members of the team. Be truthful and kind as you lay out the choice.

Once you have this discussion, document it and put your notes in the employee’s personnel file. If it’s necessary to have a second conversation about poor behavior, be sure to have the employee sign the written warning. Then empower Mary to create her own destiny. Her actions will signal her “choice.” Show support. Reward Mary for progress, or release her from a situation that neither of you is happy with.

Dealing with workplace drama is one of the least rewarding parts of being a dental leader. But unless you step in and defuse the drama, it will damage everyone associated with it and render poor practice results. Establish the non-negotiable behaviors of personal accountability, respect, choice, and principled behavior in your office so employees excel and provide excellent patient care.

If your team is marred by dysfunction, contact me at nhaller@mckenziemgmt.com.I will help you to create a collaborative and fun work environment without the drama.

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

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

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Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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Two Things Patients Want
By Carol Tekavec RDH

I read many dental journals, magazines, and blogs. I enjoy looking at websites and try to follow emerging trends in dentistry. While dentistry continues to change and evolve, there are certain features to providing dental treatment that don’t seem to vary much. Regardless of our techniques and clinical improvements, patients consistently want two main things from their care. They want competent treatment and they want to be dealt with honestly.

Competent Treatment
When patients come to the office, they are either seeking a general dental health assessment, or they have specific issues. Often they want to have their teeth “cleaned” or they are interested in whitening. They may have a sensitive tooth or a full-blown toothache. They may have a missing tooth they want to have replaced, or have sore, bleeding gums. They may know something about dentistry, or nothing whatsoever. But they all want “good” treatment and long-lasting restorations or replacements.

Patients often come to a practice with complaints about their previous dentist. They may say they had restorations that “fell out” or hurt for months after placement. They may tell about crowns that didn’t fit, or root canals that failed. They may express that they were not really numb or the dentist seemed as if he didn’t care. For hygienists, complaints of a former hygienist being rough can be common.

We all know that patients may be exaggerating or are just simply hard to please. I know of a patient who complained and eventually left a dental practice because no one called her to see how she was getting along with a new night guard. She had been instructed to call if she had any issues, but she felt someone should have taken the initiative to call her. However, we don’t want patients leaving our practices because of complaints concerning competency.

Since patients usually don’t really know whether they are receiving competent treatment or not, they typically evaluate competency based primarily on whether the dentist and staff appear to care about them. Prior to any treatment, either a patient coordinator or the dentist needs to have a conversation about what procedures will be taking place and how the patient may feel. Sensitivity, swelling, discomfort or other effects of treatment that are addressed before a procedure are explanations. Given after treatment they may be viewed as excuses.

Conversation is important, but actions are even more so. If a filling is placed and is found to be sensitive, patients want to have their concerns addressed. Assuring them over the phone that the sensitivity will likely fade in time may not be enough. Having the patient come back to the office and adjusting the bite or placing a fluoride varnish may be needed. If the site is still sensitive, repeating this or replacing the restoration with another material might help. It goes without saying that if a recent filling has fallen out, it must be replaced as quickly as possible, and at no charge.

If a patient appears to be difficult to get numb, have them arrive for their appointments 30 minutes early so they are given ample time for the anesthetic to take effect. Hygienists also need to have enough time to take care of patients gently. If a hygienist is always rushing it is hard to maintain a light touch.

Call services or consumer sites are often used by patients who really don’t know where to go to find a good dental office. Many times these services advertise as being unbiased and not paid for by the dentists who are listed. However, this is not always the case. Many sites do allow for offices to be listed for a fee. When patients discover that the dentists may be paying for inclusion on the site, they can become disillusioned. This does not mean that purchasing a listing should be avoided. However, it may be a little trickier than previously thought.

Pre-fab notebooks of before and after pictures can be great to show what is possible, particularly in the area of cosmetic dentistry. They can be a fabulous tool. If the notebooks appear to be “homemade” the assumption is that the pictures are featuring patients of the practice. Offices need to decide if these notebooks are good for their practices. Most dentists have patients who have received beautiful cosmetic restorations, crowns, and veneers and are very happy. Often these patients are delighted to have a professional photograph taken of their lovely new smiles. A book featuring these patients, or even framed photos in the reception area can be very powerful. When another patient has a question about a procedure that has been recommended, a staff person can take them out to look at the photo that illustrates what is being proposed. “Here is what we were able to do for one of our patients.” Honest and effective.

New patients are also leery of “offers”. If your office has decided to offer a discounted service, think twice before adding on additional charges after the patient arrives. For example, new patient exams at a discounted amount or for free, with radiographs needed and charged for when the patient arrives.

Competence and honesty are two important traits of a dental office that will remain important to patients, regardless of new technologies or trends.   

Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?  Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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