Emphasizing the Strengths; the Secret of Successful Dental Teamwork
“Every team works best when the members of the team have clearly defined and understood roles. Some do one thing, others do another. One isn’t better or more important than the other, just different. When teams operate out of their strengths and in their roles, they win”. These are the words of famous American motivational coach, Chris Widener. And they are never truer than in the business of dentistry.
We are all very aware of the economic downturn we are facing today and likely feeling the effect in our own businesses. Many practices are reporting a higher than usual cancellation rate and a plummeting case acceptance rate. What can we do to combat this trend?
Do we lower our fees? Do we cut back on our quality? Those two go hand in hand. Most dental practices have devoted much time and thought into establishing a fee schedule to enable them to deliver only the best quality of care. So you cannot sacrifice one without the other. So, this certainly cannot be the answer!
Do we cut back on staff? Possibly part of the answer does lie within the realm of employee compensation, but let’s not be too quick to judge. What is our number one, greatest asset? The answer is people! So, let’s examine this aspect of our organization a little more. Here are some of the ways we can increase effectiveness and thereby enhance overall practice success through better utilization and management of our employees:
- Honestly and objectively assess each job description, to see if changes can be made to increase employee efficiency and effectiveness.
- Evaluate practice systems to determine if changes need to be made to eliminate redundancy or unnecessary busy work which drains productivity and decreases efficiency.
- Evaluate each team member’s current effectiveness in their given role, and do not hesitate to re-structure positions to emphasize strengths of current team members to increase overall practice productivity.
- Periodically conduct employee performance evaluations, keeping them brief and to the point.
- Communicate corrective feedback clearly and concisely.
- Do not apologize or accept excuses for unsatisfactory performance.
- Set exact parameters and monitor results.
- Offer continuing education to continually improve employee’s knowledge and skills to empower them to produce the desired results.
- “Don’t send your ducks to eagle school. Good people are found, not changed. They can change themselves, but you cannot change them. Hire motivated people. Don’t hire people and try to motivate them. It won’t work.” ……Jim Rohn (motivational coach)
Do we become more lenient in extending credit? I would venture to say that would be financial suicide given the climbing rate of unemployment, not to mention the other aspects of our failing economy. Recently I had the opportunity to witness a scenario in which a patient who was in for their recall appointment was refusing to have x-rays taken. Automatically, the first words out of the hygienist’s mouth were “If you can make payments would you then be able to have the x-rays taken?” Not once did she stop to explain to that patient why the x-rays were needed. She just assumed it was the money. Money is the most common smoke screen used by patients. Frequently it is not even about the money. Usually it is a lack of value. Patients have to understand the benefits of services before they want to pay for them. Wouldn’t you?
Remember these words: “No” doesn’t always mean no. Sometimes it means “know”. We need to provide more information to create the value for the services we are offering. Only then will patients accept our recommendations.
Remember we must be more than “order takers”. We must really be with our patients. We must listen to them, and really hear what they are saying. Before we make a recommendation, we must be sure they understand the benefit to them. We also have to perfect our verbal skills to ensure we are communicating in a way that will produce our desired result and positively impact practice success.
Bottom line: Get back to basics. Common sense will never fail you!
Written by Elaine Dickson,
Insurance Specialist & Instructor
© 2010 Warschaw Learning Institute