Do you ever feel frustrated that your staff don’t seem to care as much about the practice as you do? And when there are problems – production is low, or other improvements need to be made—are you always the one that has to take initiative to fix it?
Naturally, as the practice owner and CEO, you are going to care the most. You have an incentive to do so with “skin in the game.” That said, it’s also possible to have a team that cares just about as much as you do, and is highly motivated to solve problems and help the practice grow.
And getting the whole team on the same page and productive is more important than ever after COVID-19!
And with that in mind, here are four things you should focus on right now to make this happen!
(Related: 4 Meetings You MUST Be Holding in Your Dental Practice)
1. The most common reason behind inaction is not lack of motivation—it’s lack of know-how.
The majority of people want to provide a great product or service that they can be proud of. But when they lack the tools to do so and don’t know how to solve problems that arise, this becomes a challenge they don’t know how to overcome.
No amount of inspiring speeches (or scoldings, for that matter) will “motivate” staff if they don’t have the know-how.
If someone doesn’t know how to fill holes in the schedule or have protocols for doing so, they’ll keep falling short and eventually feel defeated. Eventually, the “care” factor about the job and organization goes away.
So, as the owner, it’s your job to help your team (beginning with your Office Manager), overcome these barriers and provide them with the tools they need.
You do this with training.
You need to have protocols in place for how to do each aspect of the job, how to handle problems that arise, and how to troubleshoot if things aren’t going well. And then you need to do continued team training so that everyone learns these systems, gets on the same page, and keeps improving their skills.
If you don’t have these protocols and systems, you need to get them. We provide these directly to you with our on-demand video training platform, DDS Success. Click here to schedule a free demo. It’s the easiest way to start training your whole team.
2. Each team member needs to have a goal to work toward.
“Motivation” implies that you’re motivated toward something. In many dental offices I’ve visited, staff are just kind of clocking in and doing assorted job duties or “helping the doctor,” with no real focus on the end result of their work.
If you’re just doing random job duties that you’ve been told to do, then why go the extra mile to solve problems or make a big push to increase production?
There needs to be a purpose and a way of measuring whether or not they are achieving it.
There are actually two aspects to this:
A) The purpose or “mission” of the group as a whole.
It is also your job to show them why working for you, and helping you grow is a worthwhile use of their time and effort—what’s in it for them? While a better paycheck certainly helps, a great group culture, camaraderie, feeling they are part of something bigger and knowing they have a team and leadership that they can depend on and look up to are all very valid reasons for them to back you up and perform to the best of their ability.
(Related: 5 Leadership Qualities All Dentists Should Have)
So, if you don’t have a mission statement for your practice—you’d better create one and make your whole team aware of it!
If you do have a mission statement, dust it off and go over it with your team in a staff meeting. Make sure they all know how they contribute toward achieving that mission.
In dentistry, you’re helping people get healthy and eradicate disease. That’s a great mission that people can get behind.
And then the entire team should be kept in the loop about overall practice performance and statistics – i.e. production and collections of the practice. Not to focus on the dollars, but to focus on what it represents: how well you are achieving your mission. The amount of production and collections represents how many people you are helping in your community. The reason your practice exists in the first place is to provide services in your community and this represents how much of those services are actually being provided.
Again, make sure everyone understands how their job contributes to this and then make it fun. Provide bonuses if targets are met. Maybe have a group trip if you make your annual goal.
B) Each team member should have their own individual goals and targets
At MGE, we teach you how to manage using statistics. This is one of the big reasons our clients’ offices are far more productive than the national average. Each team member is responsible for their own area and actually keeps track of it using a graph.
For instance, the Scheduling Coordinator would be responsible for production. The Financial Coordinator would have collections percentage. And so on.
This way they can have goals for the day, week, and month. And actually graph it out so they can see how they are progressing toward the goal. You can even tie their individual statistic into your bonus system. So now, if a problem arises or production is too low—they’re motivated to fix it so they can make their goal!
How to implement this properly is taught in our Executive Training for the doctor and office manager. Fill out this form to learn more.
3. Give your staff a real long-term career opportunity.
Reasons people stay long-term: Great pay, great environment, and upward mobility
Reasons people leave: Poor or stagnant pay, poor environment (they are not being cared for or bad and unproductive staff are tolerated around them) and no possibility of a long-term career.
Unfortunately, dental front office or assisting jobs tend to be considered “short-term” work by most people. Not a real career.
(Related: 7 Steps to Well-Trained Staff)
And when your team feels like they’re only doing a job to fill in the gap until they get a real career—these aren’t going to be highly motivated team members.
Dentistry CAN be a great career, though. So how do you shift that perception?
A) Your practice needs to be growing over time, so there actually IS potential for moving up in the business. If your practice isn’t growing, schedule a free practice analysis here and we’ll help you figure out why.
B) You need to provide good training for your staff. This gives them a route to improve their skills and enable them to take on more responsibility in the practice. When they see that they really can handle more and do a better job, it becomes real to them that they can move up and advance their care
4. Lead by example—and understand the jobs of your employees
Whether you realize it or not, your staff look to you as guidance on how to behave in the office. And they will copy your behavior. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said something offhand to a junior staff member or made an expression and then saw them do the exact same thing when interacting with another staff member a few weeks later.
We don’t tend to have lengthy, detailed discussions about how to act, what to say, what our attitude should be, etc. So what do employees do? They watch the boss and take their cues that way.
So, lead by example. Be the great employee you want to have.
And in addition to this:
The best executives that I’ve seen know how to do all the jobs below them.
Obviously, you aren’t going to do every job in the office all the time—that’s why you hired employees. But you should be able to do all the jobs and do them well.
So, when you’re leading by example and asking your team to achieve the targets you set for them—you can show them it can be done and HOW to do it.
(Related: Improving Your Leadership Skills as a Dental Practice Owner)
That makes a big difference. Staff can’t say, “Well, the doctor told me to do this, but he/she doesn’t really know how it works.”
Of course, this means you need to really know what you’re doing! You need to be trained and competent as an executive yourself. This is where MGE comes in. We provide the education and coaching you need to be a fantastic executive and build an equally fantastic team around you.
Call us today at (800) 640-1140 or fill out the form here to schedule a free practice analysis.
And the last thing I’ll say is that if you truly, honestly have done all the things I covered in this blog post, and you have staff members that still aren’t motivated—well then, they might not be a good fit for your office. You’ll need to find someone that is. But remember, first it’s on you to provide the right environment and training to enable them to succeed.
I hope this helps!
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