4.29.16 Issue #738 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

6 Ways You Might Be Hurting Your Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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If your practice is hurting, it’s easy to blame your team members for your problems. But the truth is, many of your problems are likely your own doing – and the situation will only get better if you’re willing to make some changes in yourself as well as in struggling practice systems.

I know this is difficult to do, but it’s vital to your practice’s success. Ignoring problems or blaming others will only make it worse, and you’ll never achieve the success you want and deserve. You’ve worked hard to get where you are today, but with a few changes you can go so much further – and I want to help you get there. Here are six common ways you could be hurting your practice and how you can make improvements to get back on the right track.

1. You ignore staff conflict. I know most dentists want nothing to do with staff conflict, but ignoring it will only damage your practice. The gossip, eye rolling and snide remarks continue until the conflict finally boils out of control. Patients notice the tension and opt to go to a practice with a friendlier environment, hurting your production numbers and your bottom line.

Conflict is inevitable, but it’s important to create a policy and let employees know gossip won’t be tolerated and is grounds for disciplinary action. Include the policy in the employee handbook you give to new hires. When you notice tension or someone comes to you with complaints about another employee, work with the team members involved to reach a solution – without finger-pointing or placing blame. This could actually lead to positive changes in your practice and a stronger team.

2. You think job descriptions are a waste of time. If that’s how you feel, you couldn’t be more wrong. Job descriptions give team members the guidance they need, letting them know exactly what tasks they must complete and which systems they’re accountable for. They truly serve as a roadmap to success and leave no question about who’s accountable for what. This not only ensures everything gets done, it also helps prevent conflict and misunderstandings.

3. You never offer praise. Your team members work hard, and they need to know you appreciate their efforts. When you see employees going above and beyond, let them know you’ve noticed. This positive feedback will motivate them to continue to excel.

4. You’re too generous. While I know you want to help family and friends when you can, it’s killing your bottom line if you offer them free or nearly free care every time they visit your practice. It’s also undermining the team member in charge of collections, who can’t follow the collections policy because you seem to have randomly set your own. If you want to improve collections, you have to stop offering free services to every relative and friend in the area.

5. Your staff meetings are more like a lecture. When it’s time for the monthly staff meeting, you create an agenda and report on different areas of the practice. You put a lot of time and effort into preparing, yet these meetings are never very productive. Team members just throw complaints and angry questions your way, so you’ve stopped holding them altogether.

Staff meetings are a great way to improve communication with your team members, but only if you let them participate. Instead of holding a one-man show, ask team members to report on their systems. Use the time to talk about what’s going right and where improvements could be made. Work together to come up with solutions and task team members with reporting back on progress during the next meeting. This will foster teamwork and help you make positive changes in your practice.

6. You don’t have a policy on raises. You’re not a fan of performance reviews and you haven’t developed any policies on how raises will be determined. You think it’s easier that way, but trust me, you’re just setting yourself up for trouble. If you don’t make it clear how performance will be measured and under what circumstances raises will be discussed, team members will come to you whenever they feel like it’s time for a raise. And because you don’t like to say no, you usually give in – without knowing how the raise will impact the budget or practice overhead.

Rather than giving out raises every time someone asks, I recommend putting a system in place so employees know exactly what they need to do to earn a pay hike. This will motivate them to improve performance and will help keep overhead costs from skyrocketing.

I know change can be difficult, and it’s much easier to make excuses and blame others when problems arise. But if you’re ready to grow your practice and finally reach your true potential, give me a call. I’ll help put you on the road toward practice 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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Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Tips to Motivate and Engage your Staff
By Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.

‘Employee Engagement’ is a term that refers to the extent which employees or staff feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the practice or organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. When you think about your practice, do you believe your staff are excited to come to work?  Are they passionate about their jobs?  Are they willing to go above and beyond to achieve outstanding results?  If not, you may be facing a staff engagement gap, with team members who don’t feel motivated or connected to the organization or their jobs.

There is no arguing that a highly engaged staff member is a productive one. They care about their work, drive innovation, and move their practice forward. Unfortunately, engaged staff are hard to come by. Gallup recently reported that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to the above definition of ‘engagement.’ The United States, which reported the highest levels of engagement, found that only 29% of employees reported being engaged in their places of work. These results show there is a great deal of room for improvement for leaders, small businesses and large organizations.

The good news: There are many ways to make your staff feel more inspired by their work. Many of these strategies are very easy to implement into your leadership practices and can have a profound impact on overall motivation. Below are 4 tips to motivate and engage your office staff.

Tip #1: Get To Know Your People
In the hustle of a typical work day, it’s easy to forget about devoting time towards really getting to know your team. A manager who understands what a staff member’s strengths, values and drives are, is better able to assess how to motivate and coach him or her. If you have a new staff member, don’t wait until they have worked for you for months. Spend time with them upfront and ask questions about them, their families, what they would like from you, their goals and their motivators (to the degree they feel comfortable sharing personal information, of course). Make sure you demonstrate that you are truly interested in learning about them and be prepared to share about yourself. Always remember, communication is a two-way street. If you are taking the time to ask these questions, make sure you are also taking the time to truly listen.

Tip #2: Set Clear Expectations
Compared to other performance management activities, your ability to set realistic performance expectations has the greatest impact on staff engagement. To effectively set realistic performance expectations, you can have goal setting discussions shortly after performance reviews. Here are some questions that can help you think through the process of setting performance expectations for your staff:

• Are the goals relevant to the business?
• Are there too few or too many goals?
• Are the goals results-based and measurable - are they SMART (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound)?

Tip #3: Develop Your Staff
Staff of leaders who are very effective at development can outperform their peers by up to 25%. As the leader of your practice, encourage professional development by having a clear plan in mind. A development plan will help create a roadmap for your people. Once their goals are established, enlist the support of the Office Manager to help them in their development. Everyone can benefit from someone holding them accountable to their goals, and it is a great way to engage your Office Manager. Also, challenge your staff to push themselves out of their comfort zone with special projects or additional assignments outside of their day-to-day roles. As humans, we are driven to grow and develop new skills.

Tip #4: Notice What Gets Done
Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work. Recognition from you as the leader can go a very long way in motivating your staff, and the effects can be immediate. A good leader knows how each of his or her people like to be recognized and flexes to the appropriate approach. Some staff members want the public recognition for good work, while others want a more private pat on the back. Get to know your staff and try to recognize them in the way that inspires them the most. A one size fits all approach will not drive the same level of motivation as a more customized style of rewards.

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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Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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Breathing and Airway Problems in Children
By Carol Tekavec RDH

The little 5 year old boy in the reception room looked tired and had dark circles under his eyes. He was sitting next to his mom looking at a book, but he seemed lethargic and sleepy. When I escorted his mom and him into my treatment room, I noticed he was not looking around or exhibiting any interest. He got into my chair without any coaxing, but would not look at me. When his mom tried to engage him he didn’t really look at her either. I tried my usual tricks of “show, tell, do” to familiarize him with my mouth mirror, suction tip, water triplex syringe, patient light, and how the patient chair moved up and down. He showed little reaction. I wondered what might be happening with this little guy. Might he have some type of emotional issue?

Mandy is also 5 years old and is known by all the staff as a “real handful”. When we see her name on the schedule we brace ourselves. She is so active! When she is in the chair she’s constantly reaching for things off the bracket table, grabbing the water triplex syringe and squirting it around the room, moving in her seat, and talking, talking, talking. At the end of her appointments we are exhausted and so is her mom. We wonder if she might have ADHD.

Joey, age 6, has something in his mouth all the time. If he isn’t sucking on his thumb, he is chewing on the ear of a stuffed animal or sucking on the tail of his t-shirt. His mom has tried “everything” to get him to stop all of this. She is very worried because he’s starting kindergarten in a few weeks. She doesn’t want the other children to make fun of him because of his “baby” actions. She asks us if she should purchase one of the devices she has seen online that looks like giant gloves and covers both thumbs. Would that break him of this “habit”?

Amazingly enough, each of these children may be exhibiting signs of a breathing and/or airway problem, and not what might immediately come to mind. Dentists and hygienists are in a unique position to identify some of these issues, and give some direction in how to help these kids.

According to the literature, obstructed airways can cause the dark circles we sometimes notice on children. The darkness under the eyes is not simply from what we might think of as the child being tired, but from circulating blood not receiving enough oxygen. It is being shown that obstructed airways can also impact learning, eye-contact, engagement, posture, activity/hyperactivity and “sucking habits”.  Children who show some of the signs listed above may be given drugs for “hyperactivity” or labeled with some type of condition, when in fact, they just can’t breathe normally!

Diagnosis of an obstructed airway can begin by simply looking into the child’s mouth and asking him to say “ah”.  Are the tonsils large, is the uvula big, is the palate red? Going on; do the tissues bleed easily, is the gingiva red, are the teeth “splayed” in an outward direction? What does the lingual frenum attachment look like? Is it tight and high? Can the child touch his tongue to the roof of his mouth?

If, in addition, the parent tells us the child sleeps poorly, grinds his teeth during the night, snores and breathes though his mouth most of the time, we may be getting a picture of a child who is not getting enough oxygen. He may have an obstruction that is preventing him from breathing correctly through his nose, causing him to present with many types of symptoms and behavioral issues that might seem to have little to do with breathing. If he is not breathing through the nose with his mouth closed, not only will he have less oxygen, but the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, teeth, facial features and posture may be adversely affected.

If a child appears to have an airway issue, the next step may be to refer him to a pediatric ENT for an evaluation of his tonsils and adenoids. If removal is indicated, this service alone may allow for improved breathing, and therefore proper oral and facial development. With improved breathing, behavioral corrections may also be seen. If tonsil and adenoid removal is not enough, orthodontic intervention can also be helpful. Current thinking is the sooner the better.

While involvement with breathing and airway issues has not been a typical activity for the dental profession, more and more interest in these topics is making it possible for patients, particularly children, to receive the early treatment they may need to prevent life-long problems. Simply keeping an eye out for the symptoms and conditions that may be telling us an airway is obstructed can make a big difference in our patients’ lives.

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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