A great place to work!

July 1, 2003
An office environment where patients receive the best care requires a motivated team that works efficiently and effectively. To be motivated, staff members must feel good about themselves

Richard A. Green, DDS, MBA

An office environment where patients receive the best care requires a motivated team that works efficiently and effectively. To be motivated, staff members must feel good about themselves, believe what they are doing is important, feel respected, believe they are treated equal, and be allowed to do what they do best every day.

Staff development involves acceptance of each staff member by the dentist, patients, and co-workers. It involves imparting knowledge about how the job is done technically and behaviorally. Here are some pointers to maximize your effectiveness:

• When teaching someone, start with the basics; assume nothing. Explain in clear, simple language exactly what the job is and how it is to be done. This way, you set up your expectations.

• The easiest way to lead is to give orders, make demands, and threaten punishment. However, this creates an unsettling atmosphere that is not conducive to a cooperative, self-motivated staff. Make requests instead.

• Seek to identify the unique strengths and talents of each staff member. Develop dynamic job descriptions and delegate tasks that amplify strengths and minimize weaknesses. People tend to grow more when they focus on success.

• Assume no one intentionally does something wrong. Do not be dogmatic or negative when you point out mistakes. Help staff members correct their errors, and show them how to avoid making the same mistakes again.

• Treat each staff member with respect. Their time may be less valuable to your business, but their worth as an individual is equal to yours.

• The words please and thank you can make a staff member feel much better about working for you. It is an easy way to acknowledge what they do is important and appreciated. Learn to recognize positive behaviors.

• Do not give hard, unpleasant jobs to the same staff members time after time. Share such tasks among all team members.

• When staff members ask you a question, give them an answer and explain how you arrived at it so next time they can figure it out for themselves.

• You are a leader and a manager, not a therapist, but your attitude toward your team can have a positive effect. Staff members who take pride in their skills will produce quality work and take pleasure in it.

• Keep in mind that every task, no matter how small, is necessary to create an experience that is best for the patient and the team. Communicate that individual tasks are important and match them to your staff's individual talents.

• Take time to listen. If you are called upon to solve a problem, prompt staff members to propose a solution to you first. Then, if it is acceptable, let them do it their way. There are often several ways to solve a problem. If yours is more appropriate than theirs, explain why. You want to avoid two situations — one, your staff expects you to solve all problems and waits for you to do it, and two, they jump to a solution that is not acceptable to you. Certain situations will occur repeatedly. As your staff learns acceptable solutions, they will feel confident and responsible to pursue them.

• Give directions in terms of the job, not the individual. Don't say, "I told you five minutes ago to seat the next patient." Say instead, "We need that patient seated right away so we can complete treatment." Staff members like to feel that their dentist cares about them and is concerned about what they think. Convey this through your words and actions.

• Don't show favoritism when assigning tasks, creating one-on-one time, developing skills, or providing continuing education. Make an effort to treat all staff members fairly, and take time to impartially deal with complaints that arise on an individual basis.

For more excellent motivational tools from Dr. Richard A. Green, please visit www.dentaleconomics. com.

Richard A. Green, DDS, FAGD, MBA, is the director of business systems development of The Pankey Institute and is responsible for developing the business systems and financial management portion of the Institute's curriculum. You may contact Dr. Green by phone at (305) 428-5547 or by email at [email protected].

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