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How to ensure busy teams are working efficiently

Being busy and being productive are two very different things. Dentists will often tell me that they know their team is busy and working, but are they busy doing the right things. Are we efficient as a team? Does everyone know where they’re going and what they’re doing? We have a busy office but we’re not hitting goals, we’re stressed out, and we’re doing the best we can but we’re not very efficient. How can we change a “busy” practice into a productive efficient practice? You need to have goals, and then you need a plan of action to reach the goals.

First, you need to know what the goals are.

I can be busy all day long at work and around my house doing things, but if there’s no plan then at the end of the day nothing was really accomplished or finished. We have to know where we are trying to go and what the goal is.

Your goals should be smart, measurable, attainable goals.

It’s not enough to say you want to grow and be more efficient, you need specific goals with metrics to measure them.

Here’s an example of a vague goal versus a smart goal:

Doctors, once you have a few goals in mind, talk to your team about where you want to go and allow your team to help you create a plan to get there. Each team member is going offer insight into the day to day operations of your practice. Countless job satisfaction surveys have been published that prove employees want to be heard, want to know they’re important, and want to be apart of the bigger picture. When you include them in the plan you’re going to get buy in from your employees and help increase their satisfaction of knowing they worked as a team to accomplish the plan and hit the goals.

If you’re not communicating the goals and the why behind the actions, then your employees are just busy doing “work” because they need to fill their timesheets up. So the first step is to talk about where the business is going and what you want. Then the next thing is to start breaking down how you are going to get there. Not every employee knows what they need to do to reach the goal.

The one resource we don’t have enough of in a dental office is time, so we have to make sure that we’re being efficient with our time and we know what we’re doing to reach our goals. Work with your employees and help them understand how they’re playing a part in the bigger picture and what they’re responsible for each day. Define the measurable metrics that they are directly responsible and how it plays a part in the overall goals. When we know what everybody should be doing, we can hold each other accountable.

Moving forward it’s going to take responsibility and accountability and will require regular communication.

Employees should report to the office manager, the office manager should report to the Doctor and/or Practice Owner. The team has to check-in and communicate about their progress toward the goals. I love software like Dental Intel where we can actually see what’s happening in the practice down to the last hour. How many calls were made, how many patients appointed, how much the team has collected, and so on.

Doctors go to dental school but they are also business owners. While learning to work on teeth, no one taught you how to manage your team, how to lead your team well and by example. That’s what we are here for and can help you show everyone how important it is to know the goals and more importantly hold each other accountable to those goals. At the end of the day, we work for our patients and their dental health – the end goal is helping patients live longer healthier lives. The goals inside your four walls get you to the end goal and if we don’t know what our goal is aren’t we just busy but ineffective?

Make sure you’re having these conversations with your team either as a group and or one-on-one and really talking about their role as a hygienist, as a scheduler, as a receptionist, as a dental assistant. What’s your goal, what are you trying to do? What did you do today to reach your goal? If you start having these conversations, collecting metrics to measure success, your practice is going to be more efficient, more effective, and ultimately you’re going to help more patients.

We have even more to say on this topic on Front Office Rocks – holding people accountable, having checklists, knowing your job, getting training, each of these contributes to getting someone from just being busy to being effective. We can help you with that. If you have comments or questions we’d love to hear more about your practice and help you define your goals and create a plan of action.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.