As you begin to study every day about efficiencies and the things that can drive a dental practice, you begin to come up with these crazy comparisons. One thing that has weighed on my mind lately is the thought that there are really only two types of practices out there. Of course everyone knows that each dental practice is different and dependent on a multitude of factors, the biggest of which being the whim of the Doctor. But if you had a gun to your head and had to go down the line dividing folks into two groups, you would have to make some judgments.
I think dental practices fall into two categories. The first category is represented by the Doctor who wants to run every aspect of the practice, but just doesn’t have the capacity to do everything (and doesn’t realize it). Let’s call this Doc the Wolf. Sounds like a cool designation. You know, a sleek, athletic predator running around barking out orders to everyone in the office and having them obey the orders out of fear and deference to the sheer power and authority shown by their fearless leader. Let’s get that thought out of our head. This is what I really mean by that.
The Wolf Doctor is well intentioned. They want more than anything else to run a successful practice. The problem is that they have probably relied on their own prowess much of their entire lives. From the aggravation of going to class in undergrad when all their buddies slept off their partying from the previous night, to forcing themselves to study in the evenings instead of going out to clubs or movies, to sacrificing amazing amounts of their youth to study in Dental School, this doctor relied on a supreme inner strength to get by and get through. Finally, they were rewarded by their own dental practice. Surely they can rely on the exact same talents that got them this far, right?
Well, let’s think about it. If you plan on answering the telephones, seating the patients, collecting the money, filing the insurance, going to the post office, opening the mail, doing the clinical dentistry, taking x-rays, calling the repairman, ordering supplies, consulting with the patients, changing the vacuum pump yourself, paying the bills, writing the checks, running the computers, fixing the computers, installing the equipment, and picking up groceries on the way home all by yourself……Then, Yeah, you can go ahead and meet this challenge the same way you have met every other challenge in your life. If, however, you plan on hiring PEOPLE to help you do some of the things above, then you need to formulate some kind of strategy that works in the real world.
Many times the Wolf doctor will hire the people he likes (the ones most like him/her), and go around the office barking orders. These arbitrary orders are barked out to the subordinates (employees) with some expectation on the Doctor’s part that these orders will be followed exactly the way they were given. That’s if the orders were exact and specific to begin with. Example of bad instruction; Doctor says, “Make sure we don’t have another day fall apart like this one did, okay.” What exactly is the staff person supposed to do with that little statement? Is she supposed to pray to God that tomorrow the patients on the appointment book actually show up? Nothing wrong with that, but is that really going to measurably help? Is she going to stand in oncoming traffic and physically divert cars into the office parking lot? I’ll tell you what she likely will do. She will go back to her desk and sit there. Sit there hoping that these people show up tomorrow and without better instructions, she will find something else to do so she feels busy. Maybe she will make up folders or straighten the file room. Just something so she can honestly say to the Doctor, “I’m trying really hard up here.” And you know what? She isn’t lying. She just doesn’t have good instructions and good leadership. Please don’t impose your freaky ability to motivate yourself and find constructive ways to accomplish Herculean tasks upon these people. They just want to do a good job for you and raise a family. Example of a better instruction: Doctor says, “Sally, I see we had 14 broken appointments today. Could you please review our office policy on confirmation of appointments, make sure that we are following every step correctly, and report back to me on that by 4’oclock today? Oh, and also review our policy on contacting the people who missed their appointment today and exlain tht to me again at 4 also. I want to make sure that we have the right policy in place so those people don’t fall through the cracks.”
Once you discover the secrets that your staff members are hiding, you can break down the barriers that have sapped productivity and caused squabbling in your practice for so long. One of the greatest findings of Dr. Griffin during his consultation with dental practices has been that once everyone is aware of the few little things that have been nagging at them, they can resolve longstanding issues and enjoy fun, profitable growth to superstar levels. You can get your free CD explaining the 5 most common Staff Secrets at http://www.dentalstaffsecrets.com.