If your dental practice is facing a “Staff Infection,” you are not alone. Almost all dental professionals complain about under-performing, unmotivated, and apathetic staff, who seems to be just going through the motions of earning their paycheck.
For over 25 years, we at P&S Coaching have trained hundreds of dental professionals in administration, scheduling, accounting, and office management. When we ask dentists and their staff to name the number one problem their practice faces, they almost unanimously report it as finding good staff.
Based on our experience, we are here to emphatically state that “finding good staff” is the last thing you should do to solve the problem. You’re quite literally putting the cart in front of the horse. Let’s look at how most practices misunderstand this issue.
It’s not one problem – it’s three.
If you’re facing high turnover, staff apathy, and poor performers, your first impulse might be to “throw some training” at the problem. So you either bring in a trainer or send your staff to an offsite workshop, hoping that training will somehow make them perform better and improve your practice. Your staff attends the training, things might improve for a little while, but inevitably, you realize you’re back in the “same old same old” situation.
You might then examine your systems to see if they’re current, efficient, effective, and patient-friendly. You hire an expensive consultant, and based on their input you decide to make some changes. You automate more. You computerize everything. And for a while, everybody is excited by all the new stuff. Then, once again, over time, you’re back to the “same old same old.”
So you decide, “It must be the staff.” “If only I had great people,” you think, “this would all work better.”
Having spent time and money training your staff, having invested in changing your systems, why is it that your staff is still not performing? Why are they resisting? Why are they sniping at each other?
This frustration forms the basis of what we call a “staff infection.” If you have outdated, unworkable systems, your staff will find shortcuts or circumvent the system. If new staff isn’t trained in your systems, they can’t be expected to follow them. And any new hires who come into that environment (no matter how great they are) will be informally “trained” to do the “same old same old” to get along. In other words, systems impact staff, training impacts systems, and staff impacts training. It’s a vicious circle, which will only get worse if you ignore it.
The key to curing it is to realize you don’t have one problem: you have three. Solving these three problems…in the right order…will dramatically improve your practice’s health.
First, your practice must invest in systems that automate nearly everything, commit to these systems as standard operating procedures, and expect everyone to follow them.
That requires training. All staff must be trained and managed against the systems, the standard operating procedures. No exceptions.
And third, you recruit, hire, and train the right people for the right jobs.
Addressing the problems in this order actually creates a healthier circle, especially if you give each step in the cycle the attention it requires. Understanding this principle can greatly simplify your practice management.
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