Investing in Your Staff
The ACP Private Practice Committee is pleased to introduce a new series of articles for members in practice -- written by prosthodontists, for prosthodontists.
These articles are intended to share tips and wisdom that members have picked up from their experience in practice -- with useful ideas for prosthodontists new in practice and those who are further into their careers.
Contributed by: Dr. Gregory Guichet
First and foremost, the greatest impact you can have on your future success and the stature you hold in your community is to get your boards. That being said, here are some of the principles that have made themselves evident over the last 30 years.
There are two kinds of meetings, ones to extinguish crisis, and others to prevent crisis. Your choice. Nimbleness and being able to field any challenge that presents is not necessarily a good thing and can be an indicator that preplanning may not be adequate. I recommend a schedule review meeting at the end of each week to preplan what components need to be on hand for appointments, where patients are potentially double booked, what treatment plans need to be prepared in advance, and what vacancies can be filled. A morning huddle frequently will not provide enough time to make changes before a big problem may be on your hands.
Also, once or twice a month, we have a team lunch meeting for strategic planning. What can be put into place to evolve the practice? Do all the members of the team have the tools necessary to do their jobs? And most important, solicit ideas from staff members on how things can be different. They are much more likely to be implemented and perpetuated if they conceive a new strategy. One designated employee is the keeper of the agenda and as issues present, they are itemized for discussion. The risk is, if an issue is not addressed, then the concern evaporates with time, and a solution is never implemented. This strategy ensures that issues will be addressed and the practice evolves.
The staff has the role of being the patient advocate to ensure a positive experience. The doctor has the role of being the staff advocate. Never miss an opportunity to praise staff to the patient. We can’t do what we do without the help of very talented auxiliaries that have their heart in the game. A little praise goes a long way and in fact, for the patient, can bring a quality experience from an unconscious to an awareness level.
Never have employee reviews, instead, have previews. The performance review is all too frequently a retrospective critique session dreaded by the employee. The only reason they show up is to find out about a raise with fingers crossed. Previews should be forward looking strategic planning sessions, to develop new skills, and set goals for the next period of employment. If an employee is doing the same job then they should anticipate the same pay. If they define added responsibilities or contributions, then metrics can be implemented that if realized, result in compensation changes or bonuses. A living document of the job description and responsibilities for each position should be maintained by the employee, is a central part of the review, and is updated and developed regularly. It is the property of the practice. It proves to be a useful tool when there is turnover as it can be utilized by a new employee to get them up to speed quickly.
Staff turnover will happen, and yes, it is uncomfortable. Always regard it as an opportunity. Imagine the best possible employee for a position. Any occasion where there is a staff change may actually be a very good thing and with a little diligence, someone better can be found. The most dangerous period in employment is around the 6 month mark. At that point both the doctor and the employee feel that all aspects of the job are mastered and rarely is that the case. Be careful and patient during that period as it is risky times. Typically it may be 18 months before mastery of a position is accomplished.
Good luck and invest in quality staff, lab support, and expert advisors!
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