5 Tips to Help You Turn Feedback into Practice Growth
Feedback can do a lot of good for a practice. When team members know what they’re doing right and how it contributes to practice success, they’re motivated to keep doing it. And when they know what areas they can improve in, they’re able to make positive changes that lead to real practice growth.
I want to make sure feedback leads to growth in your practice. That’s why I’ve put together a few tips to help ensure feedback never goes to waste, and that you take full advantage of this practice-growing opportunity.
1. Make sure team members understand constructive comments aren’t criticism. Once you start routinely giving feedback, you’ll soon find that some team members take it better than others. It can be difficult for people to find out they’re doing something wrong, and some just aren’t interested in hearing anything but praise.
To get past this, I suggest you talk with team members about how they respond to constructive comments. Ask them to really think about how they react when someone makes a suggestion that’s meant to help them improve, and then have them answer these questions:
- Am I defensive?
It’s also important to remind team members not to take feedback personally, but to instead look at it as what it is: an opportunity to grow. They have to separate themselves from the action, and understand everyone is doing what they can to help move the practice forward.
2. Ask questions. Team members should never shrug off feedback, whether it comes from you or one of their co-workers. They might be tempted to chalk the comments up to someone having a bad day, or tell themselves the co-workers have no idea what they’re talking about, making it ok to ignore the suggestions. Instead, train team members to ask questions so they better understand exactly where the other person is coming from. I also suggest they set up a time to sit down and discuss the situation. That way, they can calmly work together to develop a plan to address it.
3. Create a culture that encourages feedback. How? I suggest you start by telling team members to actually ask for feedback. The more feedback team members receive, the more comfortable they’ll be with it. They’ll also learn a lot about how they can improve their performance. Co-workers will point out bad habits or inefficiencies they had no idea existed, giving them the opportunity to make positive change. Once your employees embrace feedback and understand how it can help them, they’ll really start to blossom.
I recommend encouraging your employees to offer feedback as well. All too often, team members hold back comments or suggestions because they’re worried about offending their co-workers. They shouldn’t be. As long as feedback is constructive and delivered politely, sharing it will help others improve as professionals – which of course benefits the practice. When employees keep quiet, it only serves to hurt the practice in the long run.
4. Take notes. To help them remember, employees should write down all the feedback they receive – but they shouldn’t stop there. Encourage them to come up with three to five steps they can take to start making changes. This exercise will force them to really think about the feedback and take action.
5. Say thank you. Even if they don’t agree with the comments made, team members should always thank anyone who offers feedback. Remind them this person has taken time out of their day to try and help them improve. Don’t be annoyed; be grateful.
It can be difficult for some people to hear constructive feedback, but it’s important for your team members to take any suggestions they receive seriously and use them to make positive change. This will lead to a stronger team and more profitable practice. And of course don’t forget about positive feedback. When team members are praised for a job well done, whether it comes from you or a co-worker, they’re more likely to not only maintain that level of performance, but surpass it. And when that happens, you’ll start meeting, even exceeding, practice goals and achieving success.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Scheduling To Goal
Each morning, hygienists should review their daily schedules at the business meeting. It’s important to check the patient charts to see what each patient is due to have done that day. In addition to what each patient needs, hygienists should also be aware if they are scheduled to goal, under goal, or over goal. Being prepared with this information allows hygienists to “own” their work and goals for each day.
Daily goals are based on what the hygiene department or hygienist needs to produce in their schedule to be a productive component of the practice. They are also based on what is a realistic day, and what can be accomplished in the time allowed for each individual patient.
Many offices get excited when the hygienist is continuously over their daily goal. However, the hygienist should be scheduled to goal; this is what will make the entire office run smoother. If the hygienist has x-rays and periodic exams on every patient one day, and none the next, it will increase or decrease the stress of the entire office.
If the doctor has to do multiple exams, it may directly increase the stress of the assistant because s/he may have to continually leave their own schedule and get behind. This leaves the doctor running late, which in turn stresses the assistant and front office because the doctor’s patient is upset at having to wait. This tends to cause stress for the doctor too.
If the doctor does not get to the hygienist in time for exams, the patient in the chair has to wait for an exam and the patient in the reception room has to wait to be seated. This results in the hygienist being late, and depending on how many hygienists you have in your practice, that may be a lot of unhappy patients.
Whether patients are making their appointments when they are leaving or calling the office in the future to book, appointments should not just be thrown into any empty hole that fits the time they need. It is recommended that the Scheduling Coordinator evaluate what the patient needs for their next appointment, as well as what works best for the future schedule.
If the patient is retired, be mindful to not offer them an early morning or late afternoon appointment, as these times are more difficult for patients to get. The exception would be if you are filling a last-minute cancelation. See if they are willing to take the ten o’clock or eleven o’clock appointment that may not be in as much demand.
Make sure you are looking to see what the patient will be due for at their next hygiene appointment. Are they going to be considered a high production appointment? Look at the appointments scheduled for that day. Does the hygienist already have enough high production scheduled to meet goal for that day? If so, move onto another day and offer that time and date to the patient.
If for some reason the office is unable to schedule the patient when they are due for their hygiene appointment, ask: “Is it alright if I put your name on our priority list in case we have any changes? That way we are able to keep as close to your recall as possible and help keep your mouth healthy.”
This will do a couple of things for your practice. It will tell patients it is important for them to stay on schedule for their recall. If your practice is ok with pushing their appointment out a week or two from when they are due and they are on a three-month recall, what kind of message does that tell the patient? It tells them that it’s alright to not stay on schedule. This will also help you to create and have a functioning ASAP list to help fill last minute cancelations and no-show appointments.
The next time there is an appointment scheduled in your practice, I hope for your patients, your practice, and your production that the person scheduling it doesn’t just fill a hole. Correct scheduling can determine how smoothly the day will go.
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