Goals to start the new year

Jan. 5, 2011
Your team members can either fuel your practice or destroy it. Ken Runkle give you strategies you can implement now that will help productivity levels and performance shift dramatically in the direction of growth.

By Ken Runkle

Establish team leaders

Most successful practices begin establishing team leaders as they near $1 million in revenue. It’s your job to lead your staff, but you may want or need to appoint and train department leaders for each area of your practice, including hygiene, clinical, and administrative. Or you may choose to organize your team leaders around different aspects that are unique to your practice.

Regardless, we have seen major benefits arise from having team leaders. First, they take greater ownership of the practice from vision to results. When team leaders buy in, the entire staff buys in because team leaders carry the water for you. Second, they carry and model your standards and expectations to the staff in their area of leadership. Third, they become your eyes and ears among the staff, seeing and reporting on details and trends that you may miss. You will catch issues and problems much more quickly when you have team leaders. Fourth, solutions become a joint effort led by you but informed by your team leaders’ input. Every great team has a few great leaders.

Employ team players

It is critical to your short-term and long-term success to hire and retain only those who are fully on board with the vision of the practice. Everyone must be a team player. A team player can be defined as a staff member who understands and fully embraces the vision, seeks to always meet the high standards and expectations of the practice, and views his or her role as more of a mission than a job.

The good news is that the lack of jobs in the current economy presents practices with many employee options from which to choose. If you currently have some staff members who are not team players, it may be time to make a change. Do not wait. There is no off-season in dentistry. You have to take the field with team players every day.

Resolve conflicts immediately

Within our culture today, it seems commonplace for people to be easily offended. When offended, people tend to make irrational choices that impact your staff chemistry and your patient’s experience. Both men and women can become “predictably irrational” when offended, according to Dan Ariely in his book “Predictably Irrational,” making choices and decisions that defy reason and certainly do not serve the practice well. This can be devastating to a dental practice if allowed to fester.

If you have conflict — whether big or small — within your staff, you must act quickly to resolve it immediately. Every moment you wait, bitterness grows and shows. If staff members cannot resolve their conflicts and move beyond them, you may need to find new employees. Conflict within staff is often palpable to patients, creating an environment of hostility and tension. It also has the potential to involve other staff members as they choose sides and align themselves against one another.

Your message to employees must be direct and unequivocal, “Resolve it now or find a new place to work.” When this message is clear, conflicts will be few and far between.

People can fuel your practice or destroy it. The choice is yours. Implement the staff strategies above and watch productivity and performance shift dramatically in the direction of growth.

Go for it!

Author bio
Ken Runkle, America’s Profitability Expert™, is the founder and president of Paragon Management, Inc., and has been helping dental practices reach peak profitability for 24 years.