Day to Day Practice Operations – This is kind of a big, inclusive area, but I think it is an appropriate one to dive into first. Let me explain how this used to cripple my productivity. I would occasionally find myself with free time in the schedule. This really ticked me off. I would then go up to the front office and try to micromanage the office staff to see if I could impose my will upon the schedule. I guess I thought I could tap into the Force from Star Wars and use some kind of Jedi mind trick to lure patients into the office. I would prod the staff to call anyone in the patient files who had been in and not accepted my brilliant treatment plans. I would second guess my recall and reactivation systems. I would make changes on the fly. Many times I would give oral instructions on how I wanted things to change without writing anything down definitively. I didn’t even have any written policies or procedures to fall back on anyway. I guess I had always wanted to have my own shop, and I was going to have the final say in everything.
I trusted no one to do the job as well as I could do it. In reality, all I was doing was confusing my staff and the entire operation. One area I always seemed to try to “fix” was the schedule. I would implore my scheduler to get as many people on the schedule as possible. Then, I would complain when she packed it too full. I even used to try to be my own air traffic controller, trying to coordinate the flow of patients from room to room. I would even keep a kind of running tally in my head of where I needed to go next, then next, then next after that. All this would run through my mind while I was trying to focus on my primary job.
What other areas did I stick my nose in? Oh, yeah, financial arrangements. I used to present treatment then hover over my staff people while they tried to work out the financials. I would question them along the way if anything looked wrong. Can you imagine how hard it is to verify insurance, get a treatment plan estimate, and work out financial payments for the patient with your boss breathing down your neck? I can’t believe I didn’t have more people quit over those years.
Luckily, I didn’t have all that many treatment plans to present, or I guess everyone would have walked out on me. At some point you just have to give someone some direction and coaching, then turn them loose with the knowledge that they will fail to some degree. Then, coach them some more, correct the mistakes, praise the successes, and turn them loose to fail again. Eventually, they will either get it or get gone. Either way is better than the way I used to do it.
I’m not sure why I was so critical of everyone. I didn’t give them the tools they really needed. I would say that they were working off loose verbal guidelines at best. A good example of my insanity would be the way I handled the schedule. I would complain if I was given too much time for a procedure. I said that was a waste of time. I would complain if I was given too little time and the office got behind. In typical boss-like fashion, when the scheduler accidentally got the timing right against all odds, I didn’t give her any praise. Instead, I felt like she should have been getting this stuff right all along. It was her job after all, right? Heck, I didn’t even give her the amounts of time that I would be needing to complete the procedures. I would just gripe when things worked out “wrong.” Trust me, that’s no way to run a practice. It’s certainly a quick way to get burned out, maybe even go nuts.
So, there you have it. You’ve just learned one of the biggest secrets that high production offices all share. You must give up and delegate to your staff if you want to really get out of the way of your practice and grow it. As an added bonus, you might just be able to keep your sanity, too. One of the greatest findings of Dr. Griffin during his consultation with dental practices has been that once all staff members are aware of their specific duties, 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.
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