I want to start this post on the subject of dental problems off by illustrating its primary message.
As a dentist, what’s your take on this conversation?
Doctor: “Joe (patient), we need to do something about this tooth. I’m concerned that if we don’t treat it now (with a crown, inlay, etc.) we’ll be looking at a root canal in the not-too-distant future.”
Patient: “Doctor, I don’t think I want to do anything about it. I’m sure if I just ignore the problem, it will get better (heal) all by itself.”
Explaining how this would never happen would be easy. Dental problems don’t spontaneously heal.
Now, let’s apply this concept to your business. For the most part, earth shaking, money hemorrhaging business issues start as a small problem. From there, they “grow,” reach critical mass and leave you with a basket full of headaches. It’s quite simple really. It’s not unlike the origin of a ragingly painful toothache whose beginnings can be traced back to an teensy-weensy bit of decay.
With all of this in mind, it’s staggering how many dentists (and to be fair, most other small and large business owners and executives) repeatedly fail at this basic measure of problem solving.
And while there are no “absolutes,” the closest thing I’ve seen to one is how the “disaster” some doctor had with their Financial Coordinator (embezzlement, unfiled insurance, strange discounts and write-offs, etc.) or other staff member could have been averted had they done something about the problem when it was small.
Now, following up most staff “disasters,” one of the first things I hear from a doctor is “I had no idea this was happening!”
I’ll buy that. Of course you didn’t know that your Scheduling Officer wasn’t mailing recall cards and lying about confirming patients or that your Financial Coordinator was giving strange (hidden) discounts to their friends.
However, and this has been the case in EVERY situation I’ve followed up: There were signs, indicators, whatever you want to call it, that SOMETHING was amiss with the employee in question and the doctor (or office manager) did NOTHING about it. These were IGNORED or “explained” away.
What were the signs? The employee might have become rude or dismissive. Maybe it was a string of late arrivals to work. Or you caught them in what looked like a “fib” about confirming a patient and just let it drop (rather than truly addressing it). In any event, allowing things like this to go unaddressed opens the door to a multitude of issues. Specifically:
1. Letting small policy violations slide can lead to more (and bigger) policy violations.
Most people have at least one “nightmare” story about a former employee or co-worker. And yes, there are some people who want nothing more than to seek what is best for them and could care less about what happens to you, their co-workers or the rest of the organization. We cover this type of personality at MGE Communication and Sales Seminar A. That said, these types of personalities are few and far between. Most people are decent and hardworking (or have the potential to be that way). That said, no one is perfect; we all have the potential to mess up, or do something we’re not supposed to do. If your work environment fosters honesty and frowns upon violating policy (from the top of the organization down to the lowest-level employee), then these small problems or issues are caught and handled quickly before they escalate. If the environment has a lax “no-one cares” attitude, then these problems are repeated usually in a bigger or more dramatic fashion – until you have a disaster on your hands. I’ve seen many good potential employees wasted this way – i.e. they could have easily been corrected before things got out of hand.
2. What’s good for one employee must be good for another.
You’ve turned a blind eye while you’re assistant is repeatedly late for work without no correction of any kind. He or she also talks to you in an unprofessional manner. Again, you do nothing to correct it. Seeing this, your Financial Secretary thinks it is “OK” and does the same. This behavior spreads through the rest of your staff. You now have a “Staff Infection.” And if you think that productivity will be high in a work environment like this – you’re dreaming.
3. Replacing employees is expensive in more ways than one.
The lost productivity between having a position unmanned while you’re hiring and the learning curve while your training is secretly very expensive. You don’t always see it as you’re not writing a check for it. This expense is incurred even when you’re replacing a great employee who is moving or retiring. Now, add to this the lost production and income created by an employee who you’ve dismissed for not doing their job as in the examples above and you have an astronomically expensive situation. The point: replacing people costs. Don’t add to it.
So, what do you do now? If anything, don’t ignore problems. They don’t (in most instances) improve on their own. And while I’ve used staff issues for examples in this post – you could apply this to anything – marketing, finances and so on.
As a note, when you’re correcting staff, do so in a professional manner and please, please, please don’t do it in front of patients – it’s degrading and unnecessary. The purpose of correcting someone is to have a more productive and competent employee – not to embarrass someone. Sometimes you’ll see something while patients are around and things are busy and correcting it may have to wait until the end of the day. Assuming it’s not a potential disaster or doesn’t endanger a patient, then wait if needed. Use your judgment.
Ultimately, the solution to all of the above is to get trained. The majority of the curriculum of the MGE program comes from the management materials written by L. Ron Hubbard. The course materials are extensive, specific and most importantly, they ACTUALLY WORK. Meaning they get the expected result. Mr. Hubbard really figured out how not only to find good people, but also to train them and best of all, provide an environment that encourages production, responsibility, and growth for all (you and your staff).
If you’re really serious about learning how to masterfully manage your business, give us a call.