Include These Elements in Every Job Description
You’ve finally decided it’s time to develop job descriptions for every position in your practice. You know it will make your team more efficient and productive, and that will translate into a bigger bottom line for your practice. The problem? You have no idea where to start.
The good news is, I do. Creating detailed job descriptions doesn’t have to be a difficult, time consuming task. For the best results, I suggest getting your team members involved in the process. Ask them what they think should be included in the description for their job. This will not only show them you value their input, it will also will make them more vested in practice success.
OK, so you’re probably wondering what elements you actually need to include in your job descriptions. To help guide you, I’ve outlined the four main components:
A job definition. List every task and responsibility the person in the role needs to complete each day. Include everything, no matter how small it might seem. Examples of tasks include welcoming patients as soon as they arrive and sterilizing instruments after use.
Responsibilities and duties. Make it clear which systems team members are responsible for and how their performance will be measured. Be as specific as possible. It’s not enough to say your Patient Coordinator is responsible for calling past due patients. Outline exactly how many patients you expect the coordinator to call each day and how many you expect to see on the schedule. Now the team member has a goal to work toward, and there’s no doubt how his or her performance will be measured. Trust me, this guidance is invaluable and will motivate your team members to excel.
A list of the necessary skills. If you hire someone, say a Scheduling Coordinator, who doesn’t have the skillset to perform the job, it will lead to extra stress, frustration and lost revenues. That’s why it’s so important to include the required skills in every job description and only hire people who have those skills. For instance, the front office employee in charge of collections must have exceptional telephone skills and be comfortable asking patients for money. Having someone who hates conflict or isn’t good with numbers in that role will make everyone miserable while also damaging your practice.
A statement that lets team members know it isn’t all-inclusive. When I talk to dentists about creating job descriptions, many of them tell me they’re afraid their employees will use them to get out of work. They think if they ask them to do something that isn’t listed, they’ll smile and say “sorry, but that isn’t in my job description.”
While that certainly could happen, I hope your employees are team players who are willing to do their part to move the practice forward. That said, there is a step you can take to keep this from ever becoming a problem in your office. Simply add a line at the end of the job description that says it isn’t all-inclusive. Make it clear to team members that they’re expected to perform any other duty as directed by you or their supervisor, and they can’t refer to the job description every time they’re asked to do something that isn’t on it.
It’s also important to keep in mind that job descriptions aren’t set in stone. They can, and should, evolve over time. Make adjustments as necessary, and let team members know when you do.
Remember, as you’re putting together job descriptions make sure you don’t have any overlap in responsibilities. If you give more than one team member the same duties, you’re asking for trouble. This creates confusion and leads to conflict, which are the exact problems job descriptions should help you avoid.
I know most dentists have no interest in developing job descriptions. They think it will take too much time and won’t offer the practice much benefit. That simply isn’t true. If you include these four elements, you’ll create strong job descriptions that give team members the guidance they need to be successful. Their confidence will grow and practice efficiencies will improve. Team members will be more fulfilled and happy to come to work each day, and that will show in the way they interact with patients.
Taking the time to create detailed job descriptions can do wonders for your practice. Give me a call and I can help you get started.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow These Tips to Improve Communication with Your Team
Case Study #339
The problem: My team members are making me crazy – and I’m pretty sure they’d say the same about me if you asked. We just don’t seem to know how to communicate properly and it’s hurting practice efficiencies. I need to find a way to get us all on the same page so we can truly work together to achieve practice success.
This is a common problem in many dental practices. Dentists and their employees often have different communication styles, which leads to misunderstandings and plenty of frustration. Luckily, this is easy to fix if both you and your team members are willing to put in some effort.
Here’s the advice we gave this frustrated dentist:
Hold daily morning meetings. We soon found out the doctor didn’t really have a morning huddle. He would meet with his team members for five minutes before patients started coming in and then go about his day. To make matters worse, he only showed up for these meetings a few days a week. His team members got the message, and many of them started to do the same.
For morning huddle meetings to be effective, you need to schedule them every day – and well before patients start showing up. That way, you have plenty of time to go over the day’s schedule and address any concerns.
There’s a lot you can talk about during your morning huddles. Here are a few of the most important items to put on the agenda:
- Review procedures scheduled for the day for accuracy and make necessary changes
Of course, there’s much more you could cover, but this gives you an idea. Our doctor started doing this every morning and he couldn’t believe how much it improved communication. His days run much smoother now and everyone works together toward the same goals.
Tell team members not to ask you important questions in the hallway. This happened to our doctor a lot. He’d be running between patients and one of his employees would stop him to ask for Friday off. He’d say yes but then completely forget about the quick conversation – and wonder where the employee was come Friday.
While team members should feel comfortable coming to you with questions, they also should be able to recognize when the timing is bad. Train them to ask you important questions first thing in the morning, before lunch or at the end of the day. When they forget, just tell them you’ll think about it and give them an answer later that day or the next morning.
Encourage team members to come to you with concerns. All too often, team members don’t talk with dentists about problems they’re having or issues they’re seeing in the practice. Why? They’re afraid of getting in trouble. So rather than risking a reprimand, they keep their mouths shut. Eventually, this leads to resentment and conflict among team members, which could damage your practice if left unresolved.
Want to avoid this? I suggest you keep an open mind when team members come to you with concerns. Let them know they can talk to you and that you want to hear their ideas. To help make them more comfortable, create a safe place like a suggestion box or a white board where team members can openly express their opinions. That did wonders for our doctor.
Team members also should feel comfortable coming to you when they need time off, especially when they’re sick. At this doctor’s practice, employees were under the impression it upset him when they called in sick. Because of that, they were uncomfortable telling him they wouldn’t be in because they were under the weather, and would call and tell a co-worker instead. He wouldn’t find out he was short-staffed until the very last minute, creating extra stress for him and everyone else on the team.
How did we fix this? We implemented a system for employees to use to call in sick. They were instructed to call as soon as they realized they wouldn’t be able to come in. Instead of sighing and saying “OK,” the doctor now says “I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Take care of yourself and we’ll see you when you’re feeling better.” From there, team members contact their working partner to relay anything they might need to know for the day.
There’s no question communicating can be difficult in a dental practice. Everyone has different personalities and backgrounds and different ways of getting their message across. By following these tips, this doctor improved communication, practice efficiencies and his bottom line. He now has fewer misunderstandings with his team members, who are happier to come to work each day. With a few easy changes, you can do the same in your practice!
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