Recently three of my sons took me bungee jumping. It was a fun experience only made more memorable because I was able to share it with my sons. I was pretty comfortable with the experience because we had good preparation, expert instruction and well maintained equipment. All four of us had a real sense of accomplishment at the end of the afternoon.
As I reflected later upon my bungee jumping experience, I remember having the same feelings when I was in private practice and I was implementing a new piece of equipment or procedure. Many times my staff and I were able to accomplish things that on face value looked impossible. As we approached a new challenge we prepared ourselves well, and sought expert advice. The end results were remarkable made only sweeter by sharing them with the team.
One of the most rewarding aspects of having a practice is the relationship that is created between the staff and the doctor. Keeping the staff motivated and engaged is a challenge for many of us. Most of us are caught up in the challenge of “managing the staff.” I recently read the book, 100 Ways to Motivate Others : How Great Leaders Can Produce Insane Results Without Driving People Crazy by Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson. The authors point out that people really can’t be managed, they need to be lead, hence the need for all of to sharpen our leadership skills. They cite the example of moving a string. A string really can’t be pushed, you can pull it or lead it. Agreements and contracts can be managed but we can only manage ourselves.
It is easy to get caught up in the daily operations of the practice and keeping our clinical skills up to date and forget that the most valuable resource that we have at our disposal to achieve our practice goals is our staff. Creating a motivated staff takes time and energy. I would highly recommend reading Chandler and Richardson’s book. It is a quick and enjoyable read with a ton of suggests as to how we can improve our leadership skills.
If you are looking to improve your team, I can help. Give me a call at DentistCEO for a complimentary consultation today.
Recently some of my classmates from elementary school have been sharing their old classroom pictures. The first picture is of a classroom of happy third graders. Notice their happy smiling faces. Mrs. Morrison was the teacher and she made coming to school each morning an adventure. As I recall there was a lot of enthusiasm in the classroom for learning. One look at Mrs. Morrison’s face and you can see why I learned so much the year I was in her class.
Now take a look at some of the same kids, just one year later. I was struck with the change in countenace in just a year. Gone are the happy faces and the look of enthusiasm. I don’t think that the level of learning would have been the same. The picture could have been titled, “Hard Times at Jefferson Elementary. A look at the stern face of the teacher pretty much tells the story.
As you look at the pictures, visualize which picture would more closely resemble your staff picture. An observation that I frequently heard during my years of private practice was that my mood effected the entire office. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew that I was largely responsible for setting the office mood. And as my gut feelings about how the levels of learning in the two classroom pictured above differed, researchers have found that happiness has an effect on productivity in the work place. In an article published by Forbes , Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener, confirms my assumptions.
“Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it’s good for organizations and individuals, too.”
In her research, Pryce-Jones and her team found that “the happiest employees are 180% more energized than their less content colleagues, 155% happier with their jobs, 150% happier with life, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50% more productive too.”
She also found that the least happy workers reported spending 40% of their week doing what they’re there to do, compared with happy workers, who reported spending 80% of their week on work-related tasks. In other words, the happiest workers put in four days of real work compared to two days of real work of the less happy workers. Additionally she found that happiest employees take 66% less sick leave than their less happy counterparts.
So as you can see it is the best interest of you and your bottom line to create a happy mood in your practice. If you are not seeing enough smiles in your office, call DentistCEO for a free consultation. You and your staff will be glad you did.
I am happy to feature this post by Lisa Rager whom I met when I attended a social media for dentists seminar in Columbus, Ohio. Lisa began her dental career as a Dental Assistant in 1983. She is a Certified Ohio Dental Assistant and Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary. She & her husband Doug started their company Dependable Dental Staffing in 2003, when Lisa saw a need in her area for a service that would organize and help dentists with temporary and permanent staffing needs. Lisa is Vice President of her ODEFA, and serves on advisory committees for several of the local Dental Assisting schools. Lisa and Doug have 3 children and live in Ohio.
I was asked by a friend of mine to write an article about the role of a Dental Assistant in Patient Care. I’m excited to share my thoughts on this as I started my career in dentistry as a Dental Assistant.
Why are Dental Assistants so important in the role of patient care? I believe it is their role to serve their dentist and their patients to make the patients visit go as smoothly as possible.
In my opinion, in most offices dental assistants are the glue that holds everything together. They are usually responsible for ordering supplies and making sure the rooms are stocked and ready to go. They are responsible to make sure the lab cases are completed and back in the office for seat day. They clean and maintain and sterilize operatories, equipment and instruments.
They usually see the patient before the dentist does as they seat the patient. During this time they are able to make sure the patient understands the procedures to be done during the visit and answer any questions the patient may have. They also are able to allay any fears or apprehension the patient may be experiencing before the procedure begins.
A good assistant will anticipate the need of the dentist and the patient. This means he or she will need to plan ahead and have everything ready for the procedure or task at hand. A lot of the time an assistant comes into the office earlier to prepare for the day or stays later than everyone else to make sure everything is ready to go for the next day’s cases.
They help the procedure go smoothly by helping the dentist have an unobstructed view using the suction and air/water syringe, and retracting the tongue and cheek when necessary. They will mix materials and pass materials and instruments to the dentist allowing the dentist to focus on the patient and getting the procedures completed in a more timely fashion.
As you can see, I feel the role of the dental assistant as part of the dental team is critical to giving our patients the best care and dental experience possible.
Thank you Lisa. So here is my “big shout out” to dental assistants. I am so appreciative of the dental assistants to have sat acrossed the chair from me. They not only helped me do my job of providing quality dentistry. But by serving as a patient advocate, they helped countless numbers of patients confront their fears of dentistry and achieve their dental goals. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
I have always been a firm believer of the value of a bonus system to motivate the staff and improve the health of a dental practice. During my thirty years in private practice I had several systems. As a consultant I have been surprised at the number of clients who have not had a bonus system. As I am a strong advocate for bonus systems, it is generally one of the first recommendations that I make to clients. There are several requirements for a bonus system to positively impact the staff. Generally the bonus is given if specific goals are met. The goals need to be pertinent to the success of the practice. They also need to be achievable but require some extra sweat. If the goal is set too high the staff will feel little motivation to work to achieve the goal, so it needs to reasonable. They should be easily tracked so that the staff can easily gage their progress. Bonuses should be directed tied to the goal without a lot of extra requirement to receive the bonus. I have found that a bonus system not only motivates the staff but can energize the practice. Typically I would have two components to the bonus system. I would offer a yearly bonus along with a monthly bonus.
The yearly bonus would be tied to a yearly production goal. The goal was set at the beginning of the year and the bonus varied. I would consider several factors in setting the yearly goal such as the previous year’s production, fee increases and desired growth. Sometimes the staff would receive a cash bonus; other times the bonus would be in the form of an office trip or a combination of the two. While I did take the staff to Hawaii a couple of times, I found that shorter trips could be just as rewarding. Even though taking a trip to Hawaii gets the staff’s attention, it also creates more difficulty for the staff as they have to arrange for extended child care and the temptation arise to have spouses tag along. Since part of the purpose of the trip is to build the dental team, a shorter trip without the distractions of spouses actually works very well. Each December as we approached the goal, the staff would carefully monitor our daily production and put the heat on the doctors to make sure the goal was achieved.
The monthly bonus would be based on three important practice monitors, new patients, retention and production. Health care professionals track blood pressure, pulse and temperature to monitor the health of the patients. New patient flow, retention and production are a cursory indication of the health of a practice. Consequently I advocate goals be set in each of these areas. Generally, I use a three month rolling average to set the goal in each area. Some of my clients tie the production goal to their daily production goal or the ratio of staff costs to the overhead of the practice. In any case, I recommend that there is a bench mark collection percentage that must be met in order to give the production goal. It is hard to pay a bonus if collections are healthy. I believe that a healthy bonus system is an important part of the total compensation package for the staff. I found that a good bonus system not only motivated the staff in a positive way, it was a great way to increase my bottom line.
Here is another installment on the topic of creating your dream team. Even though Scooter has grown and matured the need for my wife and I to be the pack leaders has not changed. So it is with your dental team. As the executive of your practice, your role as the leader can’t be delegated. A friend of mine often reminds me that “the pace of the pack is set by the pace of the leader.” While you may delegate different tasks in the office the team will still look to you as the leader to set the pace. As pointed out in previous posts, the creation of a dream teams begins with the executive determining who he/she is and what his/her mission is and where his/her vision will lead. The mission, vision and goals of the practice need to be clear in the minds of the team members. All successful sports teams have a game plan in place before the game begins and use the half time to make necessary adjustments. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if all of the team members were not clear on the game plan. Many times I have worked with clients who are frustrated by their team’s lack of direction. Often the root of the problem is that the team members haven’t been informed or reminded of the mission, vision and goals of the practice.
In his book, “Don’t Step on the Rope” author Walter Wright gives the following suggestions for executives as they lead their teams and honor the relationships in the organization.
Keep the purpose and goals before the team always and make sure they shared by all members and perceived as meaningful.
Build commitment and confidence within and among members, making sure that everyone is tied into the rope and belayed.
Strengthen the mix of technical and relational skills. Make sure everyone understands the skills needed and keep honing their abilities. Encourage the continual social interactions that build community.
Manage outside relationships with the larger organization or expedition and secure the support services required by the team.
Create opportunities for other to lead by delegating leadership back to the team members for specific area of responsibility.
Do real work. The leader is one member of the team roped up like everyone else – not “the leader,” but one member with leadership responsibility for this particular objective.
For more information on how DentistCEO provides expert dental consulting in Vancouver, WA to help you create your dream team, contact Dr. Brad Larsen of DentistCEO today!
My wife and I have enjoyed Scooter beyond even what we had anticipated. The relationship between a dog and his “people” is really unique. So it was my dental team. They became life-long friends. The relationship truly was special. In his book DON’T STEP ON THE ROPE, author Walter C. Wright likens the relationship that develops between team members to the rope that securely holds climbers together. The climber’s rope becomes a “life line” to his companions. Once a climber is tied onto the rope, the rope offers security and safety. Individual welfare is tied to the welfare of the group. Respecting the rope is essential for all those tied on.
So it is with our team. We are all connected. The relationships that are formed offer each team member a place of safety and security. But just as it is essential to a climber that the rope is “respected”, so should we respect and honor the relationship that we create with our teams. Wright gives the following tips for caring for the “rope”.
• Teams are formed by interdependent relationships.
• Teams manage diversity within clearly defined community.
• Teams share responsibility and mutual accountability based on trust.
• Teams require shared leadership.
• Teams create a safe environment for development
• Teams build community.
• Team memory creates and reinforces culture.
• Teams allow humor to keep things in perspective.
• Teams embrace the whole person and family.
• Teams share something beyond themselves.
Training the perfect pet takes work, so does creating the dream dental team. The relationship formed in my office years ago are still a source of joy and security. We continue to support each other and respect the rope.
For more information on how DentistCEO provides expert dental consulting in Vancouver, WA to help you create your dream team, contact Dr. Brad Larsen of DentistCEO today!
After spending a few days with our new puppy Scooter, we knew we had made a good decision. We had determined that we were ready for a pet, a dog was what we wanted and Tibetan Terrier was the perfect breed for us. But we also realized that in order for Scooter to be the perfect dog, it was up to us to make it happen. Again, I consulted Cesar Millan. He contends that all dogs need three things: exercise (the walk), discipline and affection, in that order. As I thought about my thirty years of practice and my consulting clients, I had to wonder again, “he is referring to a perfect dog or the dental dream team?”
Once you have hired the “potential dream team” the doctor has the responsibility of helping them to become the dream team. At the end of the day, the musher feeds the dogs and makes sure they are cared for, it not; they won’t be ready to pull the sled the next day. In order for the new hire to become part of the dream team they need a meaningful job (exercise), discipline and appropriate rewards (affection), in that order.
In all fairness a new employee needs to have a written job description that explains their duties and their specific role but also what is expected as a staff member. That seems like a lot of work to actually prepare them but an interesting things happens as you write the job descriptions, the jobs become clearer to you also. I don’t necessarily advocate long and lengthy staff policy manuals. I found 10 to 15 pages adequate. More than that, I am not sure the staff would even read it. But without written job descriptions and an office policy discipline becomes much harder.
If you have job descriptions and an office manual, discipline becomes easy. Every action in the office needs to be in harmony with the mission, job description and office manual. If a situation arises that is not covered by one of the three adjustment can be made; just make sure they are in writing. I found that weekly staff meeting, biannual evaluations and taking corrective actions in a timely manner gave the staff a strong sense of what the expectations were and they responded favorably. I like giving Scooter a lot of space to do his work. I also believe in doing so with the staff. I saw amazing growth by the staff as I gave them a structure and let them discipline themselves.
Scooter craves affection. I think staff members do too. They need to feel valued and appreciated. A simple “thank you” or “good job” really motivates staff members. I also believe that they should be compensated well with adequate salaries and benefits. I found a bonus system to be an integral part of my office compensation package. It also was a great staff motivator. Without them pulling the sled, the practice will not move forward. How far with the musher be able to pull a sled full of huskies?
One of the most fulfilling parts of private practice is the relationships that are formed with the staff. Over the years I have continued to enjoy the friendships that were formed inside my practice. I never tire of Scooter’s affection. Even after retirement, I continue to receive figurative licks from my dental dream team. For more information on how DentistCEO provides expert dental consulting in Vancouver, WA to help create your dental dream team, contact Dr. Brad Larsen of DentistCEO today!
A couple of summers ago, my wife and I bought a new puppy. Our previous dog had died earlier that spring. We have had a dog most our married life, so for a while it was nice not to have the responsibility of a pet but in the end, we missed having a dog. We spent the summer considering the many different options. We finally settle on a Tibetan Terrier, “Scooter.” Not long after we picked Scooter up, I bought the book, “Be Leader of the Pack” by Cesar Millan. As I read the book, I constantly had to remind myself that Cesar was describing how to pick and train a great pet as oppose to hiring and training a “dental dream team.”
Millan points out that having the perfect pet begins before you bring your puppy home. He reminds potential dog owners that the decision process of getting a dog begins with first deciding if you really want to have an animal in your life, then if a dog is that animal and lastly picking the specific breed that will most closely meet your needs. Once we decided that we were going to get another dog, we carefully considered our needs and matched them to the many breeds available. We knew that we didn’t want a dog that shed; we wanted a medium size dog; we wanted an intelligent dog; we wanted a low maintenance, friendly and energetic dog. Before you hire your perfect staff you need to have a clear vision your practice mission and goals. Then you need to have a clear idea of the roles of the various staff member and what type of person will be most suited for each role. Only then are you ready to begin the hiring process. As you go through this decision process it is important to write down your mission, a clear job description and “who” you are looking for to fill the position. During the hiring process, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Having a written plan will help keep you on track. Over the course of 30 years of practice and observing clients, more than once I have seen the wisdom of hiring staff the right way. I am convinced that is easier to train the right person than change the wrong one even though they have great skills. I have observed clients as they hire staff before they have a clear vision of the role of the potential staff member or how they will fit into the office culture. In the end they feel somewhat like small apartment dweller after they have bought a new St. Bernard puppy.
Scooter has been a wonderful addition to our lives, because we did our homework before we purchased him. I recommend that all my clients read “Be Leader of the Pack.” Cesar Millan’s insights are invaluable both in training a gteat dog and training the dental dream team. Having the dream team in my office enabled me to do what I went to dental schoool to do, dentistry. Contact Dr. Brad Larsen of Dentist CEO, and let me help you find and train your “dream team.”
As a Portland dental consultant with decades of experience in dentistry, I’ve done my fair share of hiring and firing. When it comes to dental staffing, I don’t know a single dentist who takes the task lightly. And it is no wonder that you agonize over the hiring process. When you bring a new staff member into your practice, you certainly want to be sure that their training, experience, and personality will adequately represent your name, and that the patients who’ve chosen you to provide their dental treatment are given the absolute best care from first contact on the initial phone call to every aspect of clinical treatment.
But what I’m sometimes surprised to learn is that many dentists spend so much time and energy on hiring a staff, but often neglect to invest in building that staff into a team. A team is made up of individual members working towards a common goal. Teammates offer support to the other members of their team, and are on the lookout to make decisions that benefit the common good. When you are able to transform your staff of individuals into a team with a singular vision, your valuable patients benefit, and ultimately you reap the rewards in the form of greater morale and productivity.
So, where do you get started? Take the first step today by contacting Dentist CEO, and speaking with a Portland dental consultant who has been in your shoes!