How to help your staff improve

Where would we be without our staff? About 42 years ago, an older dentist told me, “You shouldn’t need more staff than someone to answer the phone.” How wrong I was! Our practice could not provide the level of care that we do without our dedicated staff. Remember your mission statement and how important it is for your staff to know what it is. “Provide care of the highest quality, for the largest number of people, maintaining the balance between our personal and professional lives.” We cannot implement our mission without our staff.

communicate expectations

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with our staff. I once saw an article titled “Why Your Staff Hate You.” I hope that’s not true, but your staff may resent you. I think there are many reasons for this, but I will highlight a few. As a leader, you must be clear about your expectations. Do your staff know how you expect them to do their jobs? Or, more importantly, have you clearly communicated the culture of patient care you expect? Remember, the answer to these questions should always be “yes.” As leaders, we breed resentment among our staff when we are not leading and perhaps not working hard. The last one in the morning and the first one out at night does not work. “Follow me into battle” is what the staff needs to see.


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Are you interested in what staff members are doing or do you think they “should know what to do after all this time”? Have you given your staff the proper training on what to do? Are you trying to force them and make them feel insecure about their job? Are you constantly micromanaging? Is he ever encouraging or willing to help when help is needed?

Giving and receiving feedback

“Wait wait wait, I’m a really good boss and I’m doing all the things you’ve discussed in the past!” That’s really cool, and if it’s true, we can change the focus of this discussion. The focus must shift from the leader to the staff. Now the question is, how do the staff members know that they are doing a great job? Your staff needs feedback, and it needs to come from you. How do you do that? Through employee reviews. No one likes doing them, but staff members need them and you as a leader need to do them. If you have a large number of staff, you can have department heads help you with reviews, but their feedback is still the most important thing.

How do we help staff improve? We could all go to a course, listen all day, take lots of notes, and work really hard to implement the ideas the course taught us. We could hire a “coach” who sends out lots of books and tapes and requires us to implement these simple ideas. But do people outside your practice really know your culture?

I’m not saying hiring consultants, taking courses, or reading books is bad, but you do need to make those ideas your own and those concepts fit the way you want your practice to evolve.

We need to help our team improve and evolve. To achieve this, I believe we need to give them feedback that is constructive and positive. The best sports teams in the world practice plays all the time. There is always someone watching and reviewing the game footage, giving feedback and helping players improve. Team members must have the skills and, more importantly, the drive to improve.

The pillars of a healthy team

The only way to do this is to provide feedback and ask for feedback from your staff. When we talk about performance, we have to break down the parts of performance that we need to assess.

Performance It is made up of cooperation, reliability, quality and quantity.

Cooperation it is an interesting concept in relation to patients and staff. Can the team member work with others? Do they participate and offer input? Above all, are they courteous at all times?

reliability is very important because team members count on each other. Arriving on time is very important. It has been said: “When you are early, you are on time and when you are on time, you are late”. Punctuality and doing your best makes the difference. The only way to give your best and improve is through perseverance. Perseverance is a wonderful trait. We all know that being “swirling constantly” is very important. Because this person has stability and is someone you can count on. Someone who is trustworthy also follows the rules. Rules are important because they provide guidelines and accountability.

Quality is, of course, of paramount importance. But quality also requires us to be systematic. Doing things the same way all the time is very difficult. When we work in the demanding world of dentistry, we must adapt and embrace innovation. It is worth considering the quality of the tasks, because we need our tasks to become routine with quality.

Quantity it relates to doing the work you need to do each day. If everyone is working hard, everyone is doing their share of work because “many hands lighten the load.”

What does this all mean? We need to provide performance reviews, but our staff need the opportunity to self-assess and give their own feedback.

Balancing art, science and business requires our people to develop and improve all the time and performance reviews will help. Our performance is always based on the team. cooperationbeing trustworthykeeping quality, and of course we all face a great amount of work. As a team, we can succeed. Review your staff and reward them.


Publisher’s note: This article appeared in the September 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a free print subscription. Sign up here.

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