We have been studying the foundation of excellent teamwork, including how to attract and hire the right people. Once an offer of employment has been accepted, it is time for orientation and training. You have done your best to hire the “right person.” Now you want to make sure he or she has the chance to excel. How you integrate this person into the practice and prepare him or her to be successful in the position can make or break the relationship.
As soon as your new team member begins, spend time at a team meeting getting acquainted. Have each person talk about themselves - who they are, a synopsis of their life “outside dentistry,” and of course, their position and responsibilities. Have everyone share something that they love about the practice and something that is important to them regarding teamwork. Invite the new team member to share the same things.
“It’s fine to have some social interaction,” says Dr. John Jameson. “After all, you spend a major part of each day together. Caring about one another as people who have personal interests and goals is part of connecting with one another. You may spend more waking hours with your team members than you do with your family.”
Consider the following steps as you integrate a new employee into your team:
- Carefully review the responsibilities of the new person’s position. (You did this during the hiring process, but he/she will hear this differently as he/she actually begins the position.)
- As you review the responsibilities, define the expected outcomes. Review how each aspect of the position relates to other systems of the practice. Establish your commitment to teamwork from the beginning.
- Make an outline of procedures to be taught. Do not skimp here. No matter how long someone has been in dentistry, review, in intricate detail, what you do and why you do it.
- Remember: no two dentists work alike. Your new person wants to do whatever is necessary to perform according to your protocols. Make this possible by being specific about your requirements.
- Besides each procedure to be taught, assign a person on the team to do training.
- Define a time frame in which the training should be provided and completed.
Apply these steps of adult learning consistently in your training process:
- Explain: Tell the person what you want him or her to do, how you want it done, and why each aspect of the protocol is imperative. Be intricate in your explanation.
- Demonstrate:Show the person what you want done, no matter how large or small the task. Again, be detailed. Do demonstrations with and without patients.
- Observe: Watch the trainee do what you have been teaching. Do this without patients. Give him or her feedback on the performance. Do not be afraid to require accuracy. If you let little things slide, they may become big things. Remember that in everything, it is the little things that make a big difference.
- Shadow: Let the trainee do what you have been teaching. Let him or her do the task with patients. Once the procedure has been completed and the patient has left, give feedback on what went well and what can be improved. Do this with grace, courtesy, and honesty.
- Delegate: Here may be the most difficult part of training - letting go. Turn over the responsibility.
- Evaluate: Continuous evaluation of performance is imperative for quality control, improvement, and confidence building.
We recommend that you assign a mentor to all new team members. At the end of each day, have the mentor discuss with the trainee what went well and what was challenging. This will give you a chance to give positive reinforcement or immediately correct any problems that may have occurred. Your training will go more quickly and obtain better results.
While hiring correctly is critical, the orientation and training of a new employee is equally important. With these, you increase the potential for productivity, excellent performance, and longevity.
Leadership and delegation
Delegation is a vital part of dynamic leadership. A leader discovers the talents of the people on his/her team, develops those talents, delegates responsibility, and trusts team members to carry out those responsibilities effectively. Talented people want to be challenged.
Through effective and efficient delegation of responsibility, both new and established team members can maximize their talent and participate in the increased productivity of the practice. A good rule of thumb is to have the doctor do the things that only a doctor can do according to the laws of the state. However, there may be some apprehension that goes along with delegation. Here are four reasons why people are hesitant to delegate:
- Risk: Leaders who are willing to take risks find the greatest levels of success. There is no such thing as status quo, so staying the same or doing things a certain way “because we have always done it that way” is stifling. Invest time, teaching, and mentoring to prepare people for new roles. The time you take to develop a person’s skill and confidence will save you time in the long run.
- Apprehension:You may be apprehensive about letting go of something you have done for a long time, but the time and effort spent nurturing expertise is a worthy investment. Make a list of tasks that can be delegated and who will do each task. Schedule training time, and once you and the other person have become confident, let go. This is difficult but essential, and will allow you to focus on the things only you can do.
- Guilt: Get over the feeling that you have to do everything. Maximize the talents of your team members, who will love the new challenges. Don’t lose quality team members because they have not been given enough challenge and trust.
- “Taking it back:” Don’t take things back. You send an incorrect and inappropriate message to team members when you “take it back.” You are saying that your decision to focus on the things that only you can do is not possible, and that if they complain or act incompetently you will take back their responsibility. Or you may send the message that I want to trust you, but I really don’t. Neither of these messages is healthy.
Challenges with delegation
Delegation is not easy. Here are some common problems that can arise:
- I’ll just do it myself: A trust must develop before you can turn a responsibility over to someone else. You have to be confident not only in the person’s ability, but in your teaching and coaching.
- I can do it better: People shine when you encourage and nurture their talent and potential. Who knows? Someone else may do a task or activity better than you!
- It’s easier to just do it myself: You must change this mindset. The time spent in training will make everyone more productive in the long run.
- Control: You may not want to lose control of the task out of fear that the result will not be as good as you want or as good as you could do. Also, some people use their responsibilities to profess power over others or look good in the eyes of others.
- Acknowledgement: There may be concern that someone else will get credit for a task or project, or someone else will receive accolades, rewards or bonuses, or someone else will win the favor of others, including the employer.
Follow these guidelines for productive delegation:
- Delegate, unless you are truly the only one who can do something.
- Contemplate the positive and negative implications if something isn’t done quite the same as you would do it. If the results meet your criteria, listen to the reasons why the person chose another avenue.
- Give up control once you are confident in the other person’s capability.
- Share the credit.
- Let go!
Jameson Management Inc. is an international lecture and consulting firm providing instruction and coaching in four vital areas of practice development: communication, business, hygiene and clinical efficiency, and technology. For further information on how to take your practice to the next level, contact JMI at (877) 369-5558 or visit the Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.