Systems and Training in the Dental Practice (by Alex Nottingham)
One of the great challenges of a small business is to build ‘systems’ into the business, in such a way that, once the system is mature, ‘variability’ is minimized. This is true for nearly every business – from restaurants to auto manufacturing. And leveraging the power of systems is critical for a business where the owner/manager plays a key role in production, as is the case in dentistry.
Among the fundamental system in a dental practice is one that focuses on training staff to ensure predictable high productivity and consistency in patient experience. But one of the most confounding challenges we face is how to get the team to ‘buy in’ to the concept of a training system and engage with passion.
This lack of faith in the critical role of a training system, though, can even be found in dental practice leadership.
It’s obvious that the goal of the dental practice is to make money. And at times, it seems contrary to that goal to take focus away from revenue generating activities and put it toward development activities that may not appear to have an immediate payoff.
It’s tough to find the right balance, but there are decades of research done by a variety of organizations (consultants, governments, universities, etc.) that demonstrates the effectiveness of a systematic approach to continually improving the skills of your team to add to your bottom line.
Here are some tips on how to approach the challenge of getting your team to not just accept that they need to train, but to be enthusiastic about it.
1. Put training in perspective. The practice owner / practice manager must be fully on board with the concept of training and the ultimate value it brings to the practice’s profitability. Any other attitude will instantly sink any new training efforts. As is said, it begins at the top. And you must communicate your vision and the role of training to your staff. When you can help an employee understand the long-term benefits of training for both the business and the employee, they will engage with more enthusiasm and effectiveness than if just “ordered” to train.
2. Hiring and Training. Make sure that when you hire, you are clear that training is an integral part of the job, and that all new hires are expected to work hard at improving their skill set. Measure and provide feedback on training progress in performance reviews, and consider training in evaluating compensation adjustments.
3. Identify skill ‘targets’. Often, understanding specific areas of job under-performance can help an employee work more effectively when training. The key here is open, non-judgmental communication and evaluation of performance. Collaborate with employees to identify high-value areas where they need help, and then craft a training plan that addresses those weaknesses.
Every team and every practice has the potential to be All-Stars. It all begins with the right mindset and the systems to support the practice’s ambitions.
Benefits of an engaged team
To learn more about systems and the power of training, you are invited to the Dental Practice Excellence Seminar & Masterclass at March 23rd and 24th, 2018 in Utrecht.
During this event, we discuss the many benefits of having an engaged team and the costs associated with unhappy employees. We will also discuss the role of phone conversion and broken appointments in your strategy for success.