When a long-term, productive staff member leaves your practice (whatever the reason), what do you actually lose?
Beyond their ongoing (and potential future) contributions to your practice, you’ve also lost:
- Years of experiential track and time spent working together with the rest of the team (i.e. everything they knew how to do, the lines they had to your patients, and their part of the collective “memory” of your practice),
- The hours, days, weeks or months spent working with and training this individual to make and keep them functioning at a high level,
- Their contribution to the camaraderie and spirit of your practice. It’s one less person who knows what it really means to be a part of your office and “how things get done around here.”
- And while you may still be friends with the person who leaves, nothing really replaces that day in and day out working together as part of the team accomplishing a common goal.
(Note: the best way to train your entire team, including new employees, is MGE’s new online training platform www.ddssuccess.com. This gives you and your team 24/7 access to highly engaging training videos from the comfort of your own office. Check it out here)
Let’s look at a scenario
Your long-term Financial Secretary – who was awesome – leaves. They’re moving out of state. There’s not all that much you can do about this. You hire a replacement – and despite the time spent by your old Financial Secretary to turn their hat over to this new person – six weeks pass, and your new Financial Secretary turns out to be a dud.
It’s back to the drawing board. But now, your old Financial Secretary lives 1000 miles away and isn’t there to train this new person.
Your Office Manager is doing the job part-time in addition to their other duties and things start to backlog.
Stats drop – you’re collecting less.
Ain’t life grand?
I’m probably describing a scenario you’re painfully familiar with. I know I am. I’ve lost my share of “irreplaceable” team members over the years here at MGE. Even direct juniors.
And when you’ve done something long enough this scenario repeats. People come, and people go in any organization. Some –the ones we fire or that quit quickly we’re not all choked up about. It’s the “keepers” that leave which really bother us.
However, staff change is a fact
Which brings me to the point of this article: no matter WHAT you do, staff change is a fact of life for a business owner. If you build your business with the idea that every face you see today will be there that day 20 years from now when you sell your practice – I guarantee you’re going to be disappointed! People move, change careers, want to stay home with their kids, work less hours – it’s a fact of life.
And this isn’t to say you won’t have long-term excellent people that will stick around “forever”. If you do things right, you will inevitably develop an ever growing “core group” of executives and staff. But to rest the future of your business on the concept that every great staff member or executive will be there until the end of time is a severely flawed concept.
So, the question we really need to be asking is: How can we build a successful, ever-expanding company, which stands the test of time in this operating environment?
Well, I suggest a two-pronged strategy.
- Encourage longevity by making your office a wonderful place to work with real career-type opportunities. At the same time,
- Incorporate systems into your practice that makes it easy to bring new people on and quickly get them up to speed and operating at a high level.
Accomplishing step #1
Accomplishing #1 above isn’t as hard as you might think and includes things such as:
- A clear-cut “mission” for your office that each of your staff are on board with.
- Continued growth in your office making it possible for people to “move-up” and take on more of a challenge and impact on the business with the potential for increased compensation,
- Having a healthy work environment where non-productive personnel are addressed and set straight quickly. As opposed to leaving them to spread negativity and create problems for their co-workers resulting in a figuratively toxic workplace,
- Having systems in place which encourage organizational stability, accountability and productivity. Along with having a mechanism of training your staff quickly on these systems.
And believe me this is no where near the full list of what you’d want – there’s much more to it which makes it difficult to describe the ideas beyond general terms. But “a” through “d” above in full force will encourage an overall sense of “team” accomplishment, build team spirit and lend itself to expansion. It will also make your office a “great place to work,” which in turn will help to retain productive staff. Again, you’ll still lose your share to the usual reasons (moving, career change, etc.), but not because your office environment is horrible, and they’d rather work for the office down the street! And (shameless plug alert) we cover HOW to get these points established in your office on the MGE Power Program.
Accomplishing step #2
So, assuming your office environment is conducive to longevity, how do we address point “2” above?
“2. Incorporate systems into your practice that makes it easy to bring new people on and quickly get them up to speed and operating at a high level.”
This is important not only for when you have to replace someone. It’s also key if your expanding – which implies you’re adding new staff as you grow.
And keep in mind, everything I’ve written so far assumes that you have no trouble with finding and hiring productive personnel. If you can’t do this, your systems and training materials won’t do you all that much good. So, if you have trouble in this zone, you can get some pointers on our blog by clicking here or you can check out a few videos on the subject by clicking here. Ultimately, I’d suggest you get trained on the subject here at MGE.
With regards to systems and training at bare minimum you’d want (at least) up-to-date simple job descriptions and manuals in the office.
Taken further you’d need workable training methods for your staff on the systems you’re using in the office.
We kept this in mind with our new online training platform: ddssuccess.com. It’s training for our clients and their staff on the basics of the systems taught by MGE and we’re in the process of putting positional training (receptionist, scheduler, etc.) on the platform as well. We also have our clients train their key staff and executives here at MGE. Having an online option is great though, especially for staff that can’t travel or for part-time staff you might not want to invest as much in. It’s also a great way to keep the whole team on the same page. You can find more information about DDS Success by clicking here.
4 more ideas to help with staff training
Beyond this (positional and system training), what else should you do? Well, here’s a few ideas:
- Establish a set training time in the office which is done invariably every week.
- Examine every position in your office. Look at what would be needed (beyond manuals, job descriptions, etc.) for someone to really pick up on the job. For example, if you have a key staff member leaving, I would, in addition to a full write-up and turnover from them have them do some video where they discuss how they do various aspects of the job. You can get a simple video release from your attorney to this end. It doesn’t have to be high-end movie quality video, it can be done simply. But imagine if that Financial Secretary who had to move made a couple hours of video describing how he or she did their job along with any specifics about particular insurance or finance companies. That’s gold right there. You hire somebody new, they can watch this and get going fast.
- Add pictures, diagrams of how things are done. And this is something to keep in mind with all of these points. While you might do things similarly to other offices – no office is EXACTLY like yours. I could write you an assistant manual and have a general idea of the various tray setups you have for any given procedure, but there’s a good chance that it won’t be 100% accurate. So, instead make your list for your office and take a photo! Do this with most things you might want to train people on. Do diagrams of how things flow in your office – i.e. a new patient, an insurance claim. I don’t care if you draw them, although most software to this end is easy to use.
- Last thing – make sure you have a central space or means for storing all of these things (manuals, pictures, etc.) They’re valuable!
I could go on for hours on this subject but…I can’t in just this article. Hopefully I’ve made my point though and that this helped. Sure, some of these things take time, but before you sigh about this, I want you to think of something else: How much time do you have to spend personally (you or your OM) training a new person without them? And what if that person doesn’t work out? You or your OM are spending that time all over again. Yeah…I think you see what I mean.
Until next time!