What’s the biggest practice management issue in dentistry?
Hint: It’s not new patients, insurance companies or case acceptance.
While these (and other issues) do exist and need to be addressed, they’re not, by survey, the biggest “problem” dentists have with relation to practice management.
Based on the title of this article (or your own personal experience), you know what the “number 1” issue is: STAFF.
This of course breaks down into problems with how to hire, train, manage, etc. Collectively, it’s the biggest source of stress or difficulty for dentists nationwide (not to mention for other small business owners).
And while I could write about individual staff problems and potential solutions for each—that wouldn’t address the actual cause behind most staff related issues: POOR LEADERSHIP FROM THE DOCTOR.
It’s common knowledge in dentistry that we get no business training in dental school. No point in rehashing that. But, leadership ability is a characteristic that good executives have in common and I’m going to cover a few leadership fundamentals you can employ to build a more productive staff team.
The first thing that you have to recognize is that most people want to perform well on their job. They want to give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay and be recognized for a job well done.
What a good staff wants is good guidance. This means that they look to the doctor to make decisions and set policy. Afraid of making a mistake we (doctors) are usually slow to make decisions. Now, the first step to making a good decision is being willing to make a bad one! And if that happens, to take responsibility for that bad decision, correct it and quickly move in another direction. Even if things turn out wrong, you’ll find that most staff will respect that you at least had the courage to try, took responsibility for it and moved on to the next plan. They won’t respect the doctor that knows something needs to be done but does nothing.
Creating Good Office Policy
Having agreements on how the place is run is critical to having a happy team. There is policy as to what the office hours are, financial arrangements, scheduling, etc. These should be in writing. It’s not an option to skip putting it in writing because it will “take too long.” Open up a word processor, type it up, print in out and give it to the appropriate staff member (or entire team if applicable). Don’t make this too complicated. BUT DO PUT IT IN WRITING AND MAKE SURE YOUR STAFF GET IT!
When you’ve created good policy, the next step is making sure it is followed not just by the staff but also by you. If everyone is to be there by 8:00 AM and you roll in at 8:30 and already thirty minutes behind, there is no chance of gaining any respect from your team. There is a similar problem if you allow a staff member to show up thirty minutes late with no ramifications. No respect from the team.
Make policy and then make sure it is followed.
The Truth Might Not Be Easy to Swallow
If you’re having (or have had) issues with one or more of your staff, then some or all of the above may resonate with you. And it takes courage to be willing to even entertain the possibility that YOU may be the problem (as an executive) in your office. I wouldn’t be surprised if I may even have upset a reader or two by saying this. I could’ve just taken the easy route and given you a “pearl” or two that you would never use; or I could level with you, tell you what’s really going on and give you an idea of how to fix it. In the end, it’s most important to me to be honest.
Of course, there’s a lot to the subject of leadership and staff management. I haven’t even scratched the surface here, but the truth I want to leave you with is that most “staff problems” boil down to poor leadership from the owner. Of course there are those staff they just won’t perform and don’t belong in your office. But for the most part, the average staff member wants to (and can) do a great job with proper leadership. In your defense, no one ever taught you how to do this. Well, that’s MGE comes in. We specialize in turning dentists into good leaders and executives.
Find Out If the MGE Program Is Right For You
You may not be sure if MGE is the right place for you or not. Our program is not for everyone – and we don’t pretend that it is. But, I’ve yet to see anyone who gets results like we do, and I have no problem standing in front of a group of colleagues and saying that we are the best. Our clients will back us up on this. The MGE training may be just what you are looking for to create a profitable, fulfilling career as a dentist; but you’ll never know until you see for yourself. My suggestion – try a service. Most doctors start with our New Patient Workshop. It has a money-back guarantee if you don’t get more new patients so what have you got to lose?! Give me a call and let’s get you on the first step to becoming a real leader.