Set Performance Expectations in Your Practice with 3 Steps
It’s difficult for team members to succeed when they have no idea what’s expected of them. Instead of working toward specific goals and doing their part to move the practice forward, they’re stuck in place wondering which way they should go. This all leads to frustration and an unhappy work environment, which isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
When team members are underperforming, it’s often because they don’t have clear direction from you, the practice CEO. I’ve worked with many dentists over the years who just expect their team members to automatically know what to do, especially if they’ve worked in a dental practice before. They throw new employees into the mix with minimal training and very little direction, then are surprised when they struggle.
If you want happy team members who excel at their jobs, it’s up to you to provide the direction they crave. To do that, I suggest you develop a well-defined strategy for measuring employee performance. Make sure every team member is aware of your expectations and has the tools they need to succeed. How, you ask? Follow these three steps:
1. Create detailed job descriptions for every position. The thought of putting together job descriptions makes most dentists cringe, but they really are critical to growing a thriving practice. Job descriptions serve as a roadmap to success for your employees, and clearly define what they’re responsible for. Every job description should include job title, specific duties and responsibilities, necessary skillset and your expectations.
Remember, the job descriptions you create with your employees should be specific. It’s not enough to say your Patient Coordinator is responsible for reaching out to patients on the recall list, for example. Break down exactly how many past due patients this team member should call per day and how many he or she should get on the schedule.
While tempting, resist the urge to overlap duties in job descriptions. Doing so will only lead to confusion and maybe even conflict among your team members. No one will know who’s truly responsible for what, and no one will take ownership of any practice systems. There’s no accountability, which leads to nothing but trouble.
I suggest you cross-train your staff instead. That way, when team members are out sick or on vacation, other employees can easily fill in until they return. Everyone still knows who is ultimately accountable for each system, but team members can step in to help when needed.
2. Give employees the tools they need to succeed. It’s important for you to set team members up to be both efficient and productive. If you don’t, it will only lead to frustration for everyone in the practice.
So how can you help ensure your team members are successful? First, give them the equipment and tools they need to perform their job. Without that, they’re destined to fail. It’s also critical to provide employees with proper training so they become confident in their roles and as efficient as possible. Finally, let team members know how their performance will be measured. If you expect your Treatment Coordinator to achieve an 85% case acceptance rate, for example, the team member should be aware of that expectation and have the tools and training necessary to make it happen.
3. Remember, what gets measured gets done. Because of that, I suggest you use an effective performance appraisal instrument to evaluate employee performance. It should measure these key areas:
-An employee’s ability to follow instructions
Having such an evaluation method in place will help keep team members on task and working toward achieving individual and practice goals.
If team members aren’t meeting your expectations, it might simply be because they don’t know what those expectations are. Once they receive the guidance they crave, you’ll notice an improvement in how your team members perform. They’ll be more efficient, more productive and happier to come to work each day. Remember, team members want to contribute to practice success. They want to help move the practice forward. With proper direction from you and clearly defined performance measurements, your team members will finally begin to excel in their roles – giving a needed boost to practice productivity and your bottom line.
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Ready to Set Goals and Grow Your Practice?
Dentist Case Study #254
The doctor’s concerns: “Practice growth is stagnate and I know I need to make changes if I want to be successful. I’m ready to set goals, but I’m not sure where to start. What types of goals should I be setting and how can I keep everyone on track to meet those goals?”
This dentist came to the right place. Companies like McKenzie Management specialize in helping dentists and their team members set and reach goals that lead to practice growth. Without clear goals, his team members often felt lost and weren’t doing much to move the practice forward – which of course led to stress and frustration. He really had no way to measure success.
We sat down with the doctor and his team to set daily, monthly and yearly goals, and encouraged them to continuously work toward those goals – leading to a more successful, profitable practice (and a happier team). Ready to do the same in your practice? Here’s an overview of the advice we gave this dentist:
First, Determine Monetary Goals
From here, you should be able to establish what your collection goal needs to be for the next 12 months, as long as you don’t have any major changes planned. Just keep in mind practice management overhead is not the same as what your accountant calculates.
In this doctor’s case, the Gross Wage Overhead for his team was 24%, and we knew we needed to drop that to 20%. To get there, we first determined his production adjustments, or adjustments that reduced patient fees, from the year before. This included employee discounts, insurance adjustments and senior citizen discounts. We found his adjustments were 20%, so we divided his collection goal by the inversion of 20%, or 80%. Here’s how it breaks down:
• Monthly wages / 20% = Monthly Collection Goal
In his practice (and in every practice for that matter), the scheduling and hygiene coordinators schedule to a production goal, not a collection goal, so we had to perform this step to correctly calculate his daily goal. From there, we could determine his hygiene goal based on one of two factors:
1. Daily salary x 3 = Daily Net Production
Finally, we calculated the doctor’s monthly and daily goals:
Monthly Gross Production Goal – Monthly Hygiene Goal (daily ?? x number of days worked) = Doctor Monthly Goal. Divide the Doctor Monthly Goal by the number of days worked = Doctor Daily Goal.
You can calculate this number once a year or once a month. I recommend doing it yearly so your goals stay consistent.
Create Goals for Your Systems
We talked with this doctor about many system goals. Here are a few:
Improving Internal Marketing Efforts. This wasn’t a priority in his practice, but is a great way to keep patients loyal and get referrals.
Implementing New Patient Exams. These exams helped the team start building connections with first-time patients, fostering loyalty. We also encouraged the doctor and his team to spend more time chairside to further build trust and a rapport with new patients, and it worked. Both patient retention and case acceptance numbers went up.
Providing Proper Education. While the doctor spent time talking with patients about treatment, he often used words and concepts they didn’t understand, and that hurt case acceptance. We trained him to talk at the patient level when explaining treatment, and take the time to answer their questions. Remember, educated patients are more likely to move forward with treatment.
By the time patients are presented to the Scheduling Coordinator, they should have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their care. All their clinical questions should be answered so the coordinator can do his or her job: get patients scheduled.
Developing Detailed Job Descriptions. It was clear that team members just weren’t as efficient as they could be. Incorporating job descriptions not only gave them the direction they needed, it enabled the dentist to evaluate staff for efficiency and make sure all team members were in a role that suited their temperament.
Recognizing When Goals Are Met. Celebrating every time team members meet a goal shows them just how valuable their contributions are to practice success. It also boosts morale and motivates employees to keep striving for excellence – and that’s exactly what happened in our doctor’s practice.
Once the doctor set monetary standards and began focusing on improving practice systems, he saw both production numbers and his bottom line start to rise. You can do the same. Establishing goals provides team members with the direction they need to excel, and makes it clear how the practice measures success.
With 2019 only a few short weeks away, now is the time to determine goals and put a strategy in place to meet those goals. Once you do, you’ll finally have a successful, profitable practice.
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