6.26.15 Issue #694 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Want a Stronger Team? Follow These Tips
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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You know every person on your team has the potential to make great contributions to your practice. They’re all intelligent, hardworking people, which is why you hired them in the first place. But for some reason they’re just not meeting your expectations, and instead of helping you succeed, they’re holding your practice back from meeting its full potential.

To build a successful dental practice, you have to surround yourself with strong, motivated team members. If you don’t, I guarantee you your practice will go nowhere fast. But what can you do if your team just isn’t cutting it? Here are a few tips designed to help you build a stronger team, which will increase production numbers and boost your bottom line.

Offer Guidance
If your team members seem lost, it might be because you haven’t given them much direction. It’s time to take ownership of your role as practice CEO, and provide team members with the guidance they need to excel.

How? Start by creating detailed job descriptions that outline your expectations. Offer regular feedback, both positive and negative, and consider conducting performance reviews to help keep team members on the right track.

Hire the Right People
Most dentists cringe at the thought of hiring new employees, and want to get through the process as quickly as possible. Problem is, this often leads to hiring the wrong people, which costs your practice big.
When you need to hire a new team member, take the time to do it right. Don’t just hire the first person who seems qualified and hope it all works out, because chances are it won’t. Hiring someone who isn’t a good fit will do nothing but bring the rest of your team down, leading to frustration and a lot of wasted time and money.

Don’t Give Out Raises No Matter What
You want to keep your employees happy, so you give them what you consider a cost of living adjustment every year. And if Tara the Patient Coordinator tells you how much just a small bump in pay would help her make ends meet, you’re happy to give it to her, even though you know she hasn’t exactly been meeting performance expectations.

Even if you’re only raising their pay 5% each time, these small increases start to really add up, sending your overhead costs soaring. Not only that, guaranteed raises don’t exactly give your team members much motivation to improve, do they? The way they see it, if you’re giving them a raise they must be doing something right. Why should they work any harder?

Instead of giving out raises just because, explain to your team members when raises can be discussed and under what conditions they will be given. Set clear expectations and goals so they know exactly what it takes to earn more money, and you’ll soon see more motivated employees who do what it takes to meet or even exceed your expectations.

Squash Staff Conflict Before it gets Out of Hand
I know most dentists would rather not deal with staff conflict, but ignoring it will only damage your practice. As soon as you notice a problem between team members, talk with them about the situation and come up with a solution together.

Remember you don’t have to view staff conflict as a negative. Look at it as an opportunity to improve your practice. Not convinced? Let’s say your hygienist is frustrated because Karen the Scheduling Coordinator isn’t scheduling her to meet production goals. When you talk to Karen, you realize she didn’t know that was an expectation. Now that you’ve identified the problem, you can provide Karen with the training and tools she needs to properly fill out the schedule, making your hygienist happy while also improving production numbers and practice revenues.

Provide Proper Training
If you don’t properly train your team members, you can’t expect them to excel in their roles. Employees will not only be more effective, they’ll be happier and more confident in their skills. Trust me, once you invest in professional staff training you’ll see practice efficiencies improve and production numbers rise, making it well worth any time and money you spend.

Know When to Let Go
As much as you hate to do it, sometimes you just have to let team members go if they’re not working out. If you’ve provided the proper training and guidance and a team member still isn’t performing, it might be time to consider letting that employee go.

Your team can make or break your practice. Follow these tips and you’ll create a strong, dedicated team that’s ready to help your practice reach true success and profitability.

For additional 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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Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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Do’s and Don’ts for a New Patient Appointment
By Carol Tekavec RDH

Few things are more important than patient perceptions during a new patient exam or emergency visit. Happy and satisfied patients will tell, on average, five other people about their great experience. An unhappy and dissatisfied patient will tell at least ten (and then go on Google or Facebook to further complain about you). Therefore, it is important to provide the best new patient experience possible!

When meeting a new patient for the first time, try very hard to appear upbeat and happy to see them. It may be 3:30 in the afternoon after an exhausting day, but convey as much positive energy as possible. Listen carefully to what they say so you can appropriately address their primary needs and concerns. If you make a good impression during this first appointment, patients will tend to be forgiving later if something does not turn out perfectly. It creates the “halo effect” – if someone already likes you, they tend to dismiss a possible problem as a one-of-a-kind thing. If they don’t like you, they may categorize a misstep as one of a string of problems.

For new patient exams, here are a few suggestions:

Do welcome the patient with a smile and by name. Front desk staff can introduce the chairside or hygienist who will be caring for the patient. The hygienist can say, “I’m so glad to meet you. We are happy you are here.” Don’t hand the patient a clipboard while looking down at the desk. Muttering “fill this out” and ignoring the patient for the next twenty minutes until they have to come to the desk to see if they’ve been forgotten is not an effective strategy. Don’t make new patients wait!!

Do introduce yourself. Walk out to where the patient is sitting and say, “Mrs. Smith? My name is Carol. I am Dr. Jones’ hygienist. I will be taking care of you today.” Don’t stand at the doorway and yell, “Mrs. Smith!”

Do ask the patient how they heard about your office. Make a note of this. If it was an online source, be sure to monitor the website frequently. If a current patient referred them, be sure to send a thank-you of some type. Don’t forget this important step! Don’t start right in with x-rays or other “routine new patient” procedures. Begin by going over their medical history and visiting for awhile. Even if you are busy, find out about the patient and prepare them for what will be happening during this appointment. No one likes surprises.

Do have the dentist come in to meet the patient and perform a preliminary exam prior to any radiographs if at all possible. Patients appreciate x-rays being “ordered” rather than just routine. If the dentist is busy, the chairside or hygienist can explain the need for radiographs. Don’t let patients leave without setting up an appointment for their next treatment or treatment conference. Tell patients at the close of the appointment, “If you have any friends or family who need a good dentist, we would love to meet them.”

For New Patient Emergencies:

Do go over their medical history at the chair before beginning any treatment. No local anesthesia or other services should be started prior to this. Don’t act rushed and annoyed if the patient tells you a tooth has been bothering them for a month. Even though we are thinking, “A month!!! And you are just coming in now?” we must keep in mind that satisfied emergency patients can become patients of record, along with their entire family. Keep calm.

Do take a radiograph or use other diagnostic tools such as a cavity-viewing wand right away, even if the dentist cannot come in immediately. When the dentist comes in, this important information will be ready to help make a diagnosis. Don’t worry about the dentist not meeting the patient first if he/she is in another treatment room. Make introductions in the operatory and address the patient’s concerns and pain. This is different from the new patient exam procedure; but the circumstances are very different as well.

Do perform palliative treatment today. It is very important for the patient to be comfortable when leaving the office. Don’t perform complete treatment today if other patients are scheduled. You may make one patient happy while making three patients unhappy if they are waiting for their scheduled time while the dentist performs an unscheduled crown prep and seat.

Do make every effort to set up a regular examination with the emergency patient before he or she leaves the office. Don’t release an emergency patient without a plan for the future. Call the patient at the end of the day or the next morning to see how they are doing. A follow-up call is good for patient care and good for the practice as well. Don’t let emergency patients get lost in the mix. A properly treated and satisfied emergency patient can become a powerful practice ambassador.
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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Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Listen Up Leaders
By Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.

Often people rise to leadership positions through hard work and the development of proficiency. Along with being knowledgeable and experienced comes the authority to tell others what to do, to lead by example and to educate. These are important leadership skills, right? It turns out, the most effective leadership skills actually emphasize listening over telling. How can this be, you might wonder? After reviewing the below model for how to utilize some key listening skills, make your own determination. Far be it from me to “tell” anyone what to do!

Listening as a leader requires a skill set you might not have developed, as it often is not inherently known. There are four key metrics for demonstrating listening as a leader, which, when deployed effectively, will engender followership in a way wholly different than you have experienced. Your staff will become more autonomous, thus alleviating your stress level. They will see you as a guide, but not necessarily the person to “fix it” or solve the day-to-day crises. You will help others grow, which will in turn provide you with much satisfaction.  

The model is simple. To be an effective leader, all you need are OARS: Open-Ended Questions, Affirmations, Reflections and Summaries.

Open-Ended Questions
These are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” They invite elaboration, information gathering and forward momentum for the rest of the interaction. If a staff member comes to you with a problem, first, seek to understand. Ask why, how, when, what. Through their verbal reflection, the staff person might actually answer his or her own question, or at the very least, understand the problem better and therefore be better poised to partner with you in the solution. Some examples are: “What would you like to accomplish in today’s discussion?” “What are your options?” or “What could be your next steps?”

Statements that recognize strengths or positive progress are affirming. They assist in rapport building, and your staff feeling valued. To do these effectively, you must be genuine and the affirmations must be congruent with what you are hearing. If you want to affirm a quality in one of your staff, listen for one and you’ll find it. For example, you hear: “Every time this one patient is on the phone, I get so frustrated because they want an appointment time when the hygienist is not available.” A strength you might affirm is: “It sounds like you really want to help accommodate this patient’s request.” Your employees will feel change is possible as they become more aware of their positive qualities. Some more examples might be: “I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today” or “You handled yourself really well in that situation.”

Reflections are probably the most important kind of listening skill, as they help you accomplish so many important things. First, to make a good reflection, you must really hear what is being said (verbally and non-verbally). Second, these show empathy and that you care! If team members, or anyone for that matter, feel you care about them and not just your own agenda or the next item of business, they will be so much more invested in the work you are doing together. They will want to maintain your positive image of them by working harder and in alignment with you. As for growing your staff into more autonomous professionals, reflections help them see the problem through your ‘objective lens,’ thereby enabling them to become more objective themselves, and better able to see solutions. Some sample reflections are: “It sounds like you are struggling with how to hold the office staff accountable while not seeming like a ‘micromanager” or “I hear you saying it’s hard to navigate all the responsibilities of your job in the midst of such change.”

Finally, summaries are a special kind of reflection. They allow for you to state back what you have heard in simplified terms. This, again, helps the staff to hear themselves and the issue objectively. Additionally, it allows for them to add anything that might have been missed, or recognize that something does not fit that had originally been included. The summary process reinforces that you care, demonstrates that you are not necessarily going to just ‘fix it,’ and helps grow a sense of independence and ‘can-do’ in your staff. This forward momentum created and perpetuated by your staff can be your greatest leadership contribution! One way to begin a summary statement might sound like this: “Based on our conversation, it seems that you would like to offer even better patient care, yet you are not sure how…”

To learn more about listening as a leader, consider leadership coaching. Listening is a skill to be developed, and will be well worth the effort when your job becomes easier as a result.

Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at jgalephd@mckenziemgmt.com

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