Chapter 2: PurposeStudy Guide and Resources
- Can you define your purpose?
- Do you know why your office does what it does?
- Are you working toward or against your goals and vision?
- How does your purpose differ as a business owner?
Ask Your Staff
- Do you know the purpose of this office?
- Are you clear about what our collective goals are?
- Do each of you have your own purpose defined within this office and for your position here?
- Are you working toward my goals?
- Write down your purpose, vision and goals.
- Ask your team to write down and share their purposes with you and the team.
- Acknowledge employees who are working toward their purpose, your purpose and the collective goals of the office.
3 Ways to Handle an Unmotivated Employee
Unmotivated employees can bring down a whole team, so addressing the problem quickly is important.
Motivated employees are ones who love taking on a new idea and running with it. They are ones who are always looking for ways that they can contribute and help the office grow. If our entire teams could be made up of employees like this, every dentist and office manager would be happy to go to work each day.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Inevitably it happens that, either consistently or sporadically, a team member pushes back or is not as motivated as others on the team. Sometimes these team members were previously motivated but have lost that quality over time.
This issue can be made worse by the fact that dental offices tend to not run like most other businesses, with clear behavioral expectations and a hierarchical structure. Instead, many dental offices run more like a “family” than a business. This is fine when things are going well, but when things need to change or improve, simply “managing” a disgruntled family is not going to usually fix the problem.
The real solution is to identify unmotivated employees as quickly as possible and deal with them on an individual basis before their lack of motivation has a chance to infect the rest of the office.
1. Talk with them privately about it
Many times, people don’t realize what they are doing or how much it affects office morale. In this case, just having a conversation regarding the issue is enough to get them headed in the right direction. Be sure to provide actual examples of times they seemed to get in the way of an idea or when they did not really move on something when you expected them to. Find out from their perspective if they feel that they have some reason that they are holding back, and see if you can help them find a better way to show their motivation and become more of a team player.
2. Help them understand the “why”
For most people, understanding and accepting the reasoning behind a specific task is a huge motivator for doing well on that task. It’s too easy for members of a dental team to get annoyed or overwhelmed by all the little tasks that have to get done, and they can lose sight of the bigger picture of why each task is vital for the office and our patients.
When you talk with an unmotivated employee, make sure they understand the big picture of why each assigned task is so important. You can also address this in a bigger way by doing ongoing education for the whole team about why procedures and changes are important for patient health and office sustainability.
3. Make it clear what is at stake
Sometimes there’s one employee who just can’t seem to step it up as needed, even after one-on-one support and office-wide education. In that case, it might possibly be time to make it perfectly clear for that one team member what is at stake for them personally.
That person is being paid to do a specific job for your office, and part of the expectation of that job is to contribute at a certain level. In exchange for their contribution, they receive a stable work environment, a good paycheck, dental care, benefits or whatever else your office offers your employees. Remind them that you do not want to lose them as an employee; however, if they do not figure out a way to get more motivated and contribute at the expected level, they may not make it in this position long-term.
This discussion will usually get the person’s attention, and if they have an interest in keeping their job and staying employed, they will find a deeply buried internal motivation to improve.
Success for Your Dental Office: How to Take Control
I travel around the country and talk to a ton of dentists and dental teams. I hear so much about how things are so hard. Why things are not going right.
Too much competition.
My staff can’t sell.
Patients don’t have money.
Everyone is insurance-driven.
The economy stinks.
I am not denying that some of these things are real and true, but what can you do about that? Can you fix the economy? Can you move to where there is not as much competition? Can you help your patients make more money? Of course, the answer is no, or at least not easily. So if you put your focus on that, you will just have to wait it out until those things change. That makes for a feeling of being out of control. But it also has a reassuring effect. Many times, when we rely on these reasons, we feel like we can say, it isn’t anything I have done or my staff has done. Things are just hard out there.
My suggestion to you is, stop focusing on what you can’t do much about, and start thinking about choosing a new focus. Why do I say that? If you are looking to improve something and your attention is on these external factors that you can’t fix, then you don’t take time to find areas that you can improve.
What you can control is what is going on within your four walls. You might argue that any internal changes you make won’t have a huge impact. However, if you make enough incremental changes within your four walls, eventually they do start to make a cumulative impact.
Here are 3 changes within your office that will make a difference.
Implementing great customer service training with your staff to help your patients see a value in spending money in your office.
Think about the last time you visited a store to buy something you wanted, and the staff was so rude you almost did not want to purchase the product. Reverse engineer this process for your dental office. They don’t want to spend time and money in a dental office. That’s the truth. But, if you can offer staff that engage with your patients on a personal level and make them feel welcome, they will enjoy their visit to the office and see more value in it.
Writing and implementing policies and procedures in your office that will help increase productivity in your daily activities.
Again, reverse engineer your goals. You want x amount of revenue a year, break this down into monthly goals, then again into daily goals. How many patients do you need to see a day to hit this goal. If you’re struggling to figure out how to build an effective schedule we recommend you watch our video on time blocking your schedule. From this point, it is up to the Dentist and Office Manager to create procedures that explain the step by step process to get patients in the door and how each appointment will flow, or you can use some of the pre-built policies Front Office Rocks has created for you.
Getting your staff training to help them become better at what they do daily.
You’re treating patients and focusing on dental health, but you need your staff to bring those patients in and make sure all aspects of their visit are pleasant, so the patient comes back.
Ask a friend to come into your office and experience your service first hand and give you honest feedback. Was your receptionist knowledgeable? Did they and listen to your patient’s concerns? Was the patient greeted right away? You can have rock star dentists, but if patients are not impressed with great customer service from your front office staff, left to wait unattended, leave before they understand the treatment plan, or don’t understand their financial obligations, your office needs help. This is what Front Office Rocks specializes in.
If you are always looking externally to explain why your office is not doing so well, or why you’re not growing, then you will always be limited by those external factors that are out of your control. By looking within the four walls of your dental office, you begin to take responsibility for your own success, and that is the first step in the right direction.
Teaching Dental Office Staff How to Prioritize
At a recent speaking event, a new dental office staff member asked me something I’d never been asked before. The question threw me off because it wasn’t easy to answer, and there was no obvious answer. When I went back to my office on Monday, and since I have new employees on my team right now, I realized the question would be a great topic to share.
An employee new to the world of dentistry asked, “How do you know what to do, and in what order? How do you know what to prioritize?” She wasn’t asking me whether should she complete confirmation calls before calling insurance, or about the order of her daily duties in her office. She was asking about the judgement call someone needs to make when they have seven things going on at once, with patients are looking at them, the schedule falling apart, and the phone ringing.
I’m having a similar experience with new employees in my office. I think this is a hard question to answer. It’s not obvious to everyone what to do and in what order things should be completed. Not everyone has innate troubleshooting skills or decision-making skills. If employees are not told what you expect of them, they will do the best they can, but their decisions may not be the same as yours, or may not be what you expect from your office staff.
How do you train your dental office employees to prioritize?
First, it’s important that you have regular conversations and provide feedback to your employees. These regular communications will help them when everything comes up at once and you expect them to make the right decision regarding what to do. After talking to one of my new employees about this issue, what we determined was that when someone is having to make decisions, they need to start by figuring out the following.
- What can have the biggest impact? The items that will have the biggest impact are those things that need to be handled right now, to keep today’s schedule together and to make sure patients who are in the office are being handled. We want to do whatever we can not to let the day fall apart, and that takes priority over issues that affect next week’s schedule.
- What’s going to have the most immediate impact? If you have four or five things that need handling, you need to determine what is going to take the most versus the items you can check off the list the quickest. Let’s say you must decide between calling an insurance company versus making calls to confirm tomorrow’s patients. It’s going to be faster to make the confirmation calls, and it’s going to make a bigger impact on the daily schedule. However, if you’ve got a patient in today’s schedule in the chair right now and you’re trying to verify benefits, call the insurance company as this is a priority over tomorrow’s schedule.
- What is going to be the easiest or the hardest to solve? If the impact and time commitment are the same, how many steps will it take you to complete a task? Do you need to speak with the doctor, or call the insurance company, or check with a team member? The item with the least number of steps should be completed first.
As a dental practice owner or office manager, you must recognize that not every employee has these innate skills. Not everyone you hire is going to know how to make the right decision at the right time. It’s hard to train new employees or to incorporate this into your employee manual because every day in a dental office is completely different, and each minute in a dental office has different variables and challenges.
You can’t write it down and say if this happens do this first, and if this happens do this second. Decisions must be made on the fly and you need to make smart decisions. It’s important to help current and new employees recognize when they made the right decision so they know that they’re doing well. If they made an incorrect decision give them quick feedback so you can keep the day moving in the right direction. Be prepared to discuss the incorrect decision in more detail at a more appropriate time.
Lastly, one thing I can say when you have this discussion is, do not make employees wrong when you ask them how they came to their decision. Recognize the fact that they decided because that’s much better than somebody always coming to you and asking you how or when to do something. Ask them how they came to their decision because it’s important to hear their thought process, and it’s important to acknowledge that thought process because it made sense to them. Then explain why they should have taken a different course of action.
When your employees receive immediate feedback and two-way communication, they feel respected and acknowledged. They will be more willing to grow and learn to adapt to the way you want your office to be run. The worst mistake you can make is to become frustrated with someone or leave them alone. Then you’ll have an employee not trained well and doing things in the wrong order.
Outline for Staff Meetings (Webinar)
Welcome to the Outline for Staff Meetings Webinar.
Staff meetings are an integral part of running a successful dental office and making sure it is effective and efficient is also very important.
A staff meeting is an opportunity to update, educate, and build rapport among the staff.
In this video, we address the essential elements of a great staff meeting and watch a demonstration of a well-executed meeting.