How to Get the Most Out of Feedback in Your Practice
Offering team members continual feedback is a great way to help them grow as professionals and make them more effective in their roles. Once you make a commitment to offering feedback every day, you’ll soon create a much stronger team that is prepared to help you move the practice forward.
Of course, this only happens if team members take the feedback seriously and use it to grow. If they shrug it off or take offense to constructive feedback, it won’t do them, or your practice, much good. I want to make sure you get the most out of the feedback you offer, as well as any feedback team members might offer you. Here are my tips to help make that happen:
1. Make it clear constructive feedback isn’t criticism. You’ll find some of your team members have a difficult time listening to constructive feedback. They’re happy to hear you sing their praises, but get their feelings hurt when you bring up the areas that could use some improvement. It’s important for team members to understand you’re not attacking them or saying they’re bad at their jobs. You’re just offering guidance that will help them become even better at what they do.
OK, so how should you approach employees who are sensitive to constructive feedback? I suggest you start by sitting down with team members and asking how they respond when someone makes a suggestion that’s meant to help them improve. Then, have team members answer these questions:
- Do I get angry when someone recommends I do something in a different way?
Remind your team members not to take things personally. They should be thankful when someone offers them guidance, and should put their advice to good use.
2. Encourage questions. When team members receive feedback from you or another employee, they shouldn’t say “OK thanks” and then simply walk away (although they should always say thank you). It’s important they ask questions to better understand where the other person is coming from. What other advice do they have to help them improve? If there’s an issue, they should sit down and discuss the situation and work together to develop a solution. Your team members should never ignore suggestions, no matter who they come from. Instead, they should look at any feedback they receive as what it is: an opportunity to grow.
3. Have them seek out feedback. I recommend telling team members to actively ask for feedback from their colleagues. As they receive more feedback, they’ll start to become comfortable with it and use it to improve. Many of your employees will be amazed to learn about some of the bad habits they’ve developed that they didn’t even realize they had, and will be able to start making positive changes.
4. Make sure employees are comfortable giving feedback. Often, team members don’t offer feedback because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Unfortunately, this ends up hurting the practice. I suggest you encourage team members to offer feedback to their colleagues – and to you. Let them know it’s OK to express concerns or offer constructive feedback, as long as they do so politely. If they choose to keep quiet, nothing will ever improve.
5. Have them write it down. Team members should take notes every time they receive feedback, whether it’s positive or constructive. When it’s constructive, they should also 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 they receive and to take action.
It isn’t always easy for team members to hear they’re doing something wrong, but they’ll never improve if no one gives them any guidance. Continual feedback will help your employees become more efficient and excel in their roles, but they have to take it seriously and use it to create positive change for that to happen. It’s also important to remember feedback doesn’t always have to be constructive. Let team members know when you notice them going above and beyond. Praise from you and other team members will help keep them motivated to excel, and that means nothing but good things for practice productivity and your bottom line.
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
Need to Hire a Great Employee?
Imagine hiring an employee only to discover a year or two or three, or perhaps even ten years later that this employee is stealing from your practice. Now imagine discovering that the same employee has a criminal record for which you were completely unaware of. Not one, not two, not three convictions but four.
This happened to a recent client and one of these convictions would have kept the employee from being hired: Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent, Fraudulent Checks, Grand Larceny, Bad Checks, and even a fugitive warrant. Thankfully, this criminal had only been employed for a little over a year before the next theft was discovered.
In 2003, the US Department of Labor estimated that one in three adults now had a criminal record history, “which often consists of an arrest that did not lead to conviction, a conviction for which the person was not sentenced to a term of incarceration, or a conviction for a non–violent crime.” Translated, this means, the term “criminal record” could mean convictions and/or arrests. The FBI still supports the one in three adults claim. With a population of 326,971,407 that means 100,053,250 have a criminal record.
And yet, background checks on potential employees are the most flagrantly ignored process in hiring a new employee – even knowing they will handle patient payments. Because there is a strong likelihood that some of your applicants will have a criminal record, it is imperative to tighten your hiring process.
One of my clients hired someone to help at the front desk based on a recommendation from the office manager. It was the office manager’s sister, who had just recently moved back to town...recently moved back due to being released from prison, which was revealed AFTER the embezzlement was discovered.
Another client had a bad CPA. In all fairness, those are the ones I see results from the most. Sometimes, their path of destruction and devastation is wide. When I did an online search on the CPA’s name, I found out the CPA’s husband had swindled money from an elderly couple – and it was the third couple he had stolen money from. They were now focusing on dental accounting. Changing their ways or simply changing their targets?
Three background search companies available online, after first establishing an account with a confirmation process prior to ordering a background search, are: PreCheck, GoodHire and HireRight.
All background companies should be able to:
The National Criminal Database includes only state or county prosecuted offenses for which the defendant was found guilty. It does not report charges – only convictions. Unfortunately, it is not a repository of all counties or state information. Some states do not report to either the state or national database, or report older, not newer, offenses. All Federal criminal prosecutions come from Pacer.gov, who maintains that database. This is only federal prosecuted cases, not state or county cases.
I would suggest doing a search in both databases to ensure you are covering all aspects of criminal prosecution. You can also specify the number of counties or parishes to search surrounding your area, depending on lived in and worked in areas.
Social Security Number trace, or a person search, will verify aliases associated with their social security number, provide known addresses and will tell you when and where the SS number was issued. Be aware that if there is ever a name change, a new social security number is issued. Some people change their names in an attempt to hide their past.
What should you order in a background check?
Four things to keep in mind:
My professional organization, The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, states that the typical organization loses 5% of their annual revenues to fraud. This translates that if you are a $1,000,000 practice you are on target to lose an average of $50,000 annually to embezzlement. That is an average over ONE year.
Remember, a brazen embezzler will look and act like your best employee choice. They will say all the right things and then do all the right things once hired. You may be so excited to have finally found one with your practice software experience or one that had previously worked in your industry. They seem like a great fit and you are convinced to hire them.
STOP. While all that may be true, a background check may reveal hidden experience (aka criminal convictions). Be wise in your practice. This is not the time to scrimp. A little extra money may go a long way in preventing a bad hire.
Susan Gunn is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She is a nationally recognized motivational speaker for the nation’s top dental meetings and the author of several books.
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