John and I are excited to be writing this column together. We think of the new “Practice Integration” title as “The Marriage of Clinical Dentistry and Management Elevation,” which seemed an appropriate title since we have combined our two skill sets in our own practice and consulting businesses. Plus, the “marriage” thing seems to be working, since we’re approaching our 37th anniversary!
We believe that it is impossible to segregate one system within a dental practice from another. Each system is integral to the health and well-being of every other system. So, we are integrating our individual areas of expertise into one column. We find that you like not only the perspective of a management consultant, but the perspective of a dentist as well.
Through this column, we will be working with you to find ways to solidify each of the 25 systems in your practice. There are four distinct areas of skill that are connected and interrelated in your practice: communication skills, clinical skills (which include hygiene skills), technology skills, and management skills.
The right team
Let’s start at the top - the peak - the most important of all systems: excellent teamwork based on a foundation of great communication. We truly believe - and have proven through statistical research - that “Great Communication Equals Great Production.” Great communication begins with internal communication between and among all team members, including the doctor.
In his book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins notes that companies (practices) that go from one level of expertise to another and maintain that success make a concerted effort to employ the “right people.” Collins says that these successful businesses “get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus, and get the right people in the right seats.” Easy to do? No.
Without a strong team in place, you will never elevate to the full level of your potential. With the complexity of dental practices today, there can be no “weak links” in the chain.
Our surveys of more than 3,000 dental professionals identified “team challenges” as the number one source of stress. This category included conflict or poor communication between and among team members, replacing a quality team member, getting and keeping quality team members for a long time, holding team members accountable, and having team members be productive in their positions. So, the issue of getting the right people on the team and making sure they are in the right seats is relevant to dental practices.
You may have had some of yourfrustrations with the above-mentioned “stresses” that are related to team and team members. What can be done? We will address several important aspects of teamwork and communication skills during the next few months, beginning with hiring.
Take the time to study the intricate skills of hiring. This complex protocol cannot be handled lightly.
1) Identify the responsibilities of the position. Detail what the job requires and the end results you wish to obtain from the employee’s performance in the identified areas.
2)With your team, identify the characteristics and skills you would like the new team member to possess.
3) Invite your team members to suggest people they might know who could not only fulfill the responsibilities of the position, but would “fit in” with the team. The relationships between and among the team members are critical to the joy of the office.
4) Check with your dental society to see if it has a placement service. Oftentimes, a quality individual will contact the local dental society to seek a good place to work.
5) Call the dental hygiene schools or dental assisting schools in your area to see if they have graduates seeking employment - either recent graduates or graduates who may stay in touch with them.
6) Certainly, the newspaper is always an option. People do check the classified ads looking for employment. Seek professional assistance in designing and positioning your ad.
7) Put your information on the Web. There are numerous, excellent Web sites where you can register your ad. Individuals who seek this type of ad for potential employment have an interest in advanced methods which could indicate an interest in an advanced workplace.
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 company’s Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.