Congratulations! You’ve selected your new hire and today is day one of what you hope will be a long, mutually rewarding relationship.What’s your onboarding plan?
First impressions are powerful and lasting. The prospects for achieving success with a new hire will depend to a great extent on what you have planned for this new hire’s first day at the office. Putting your best foot forward matters, considering these statistics:
Healthcare is tied with banking and finance in having the second highest turnover rate of 15% in 2016, behind hospitality (20%), according to Compensation Force, a workforce blog produced by Altura Consulting Group in Wayzata, Minnesota
40% of employees who have quit a job voluntarily did so within six months of starting the position, according to ClearCompany, the inventor of a software/service talent management system. The cost of replacing an entry-level employee is 30-50% of their annual salary, according to ClearCompany.
Do the math, it’s eye-opening.
What is your onboarding plan?
This the question is often met by a surprised, deer-in-the-headlights look.
“What do you mean, onboarding strategy? We hired an experienced dental assistant, she knows what to do, right?”
The reality is this dental assistant does know what to do in her previous practice. She doesn’t have any experience in how to best support your philosophy of care and protocols. She doesn’t know your perspective on the practice culture or the nuances of everyday life in your practice. Without this knowledge, there is a steep, stressful learning curve ahead of all of you.
“Hmm, I guess I don’t have an onboarding strategy.” This doctor does have a strategy; unfortunately, it’s not a good one. There’s a long-standing tradition in dentistry of introducing new hires through a process known as the “sink or swim.” For the uninitiated, this consists of basically throwing the new hire into the deep end of the pool and hoping they learn how to save themselves. Some will thrive, some will struggle; others will simply choose to get out of the pool and go home. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I like to step outside of dentistry into the corporate world for my mastermind meetings and continuing education. During my recent travels, I met up with a Fortune 500 business consultant and we had a brilliant conversation about the concept that success isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. We both agreed that situational success can sometimes get in the way of long-term, predictable success. Let me explain…
THE GROUNDHOG DAY SUCCESS STRATEGY
We talked about the challenges of developing cross-functional teams, those who perform different functional roles within an organization but must all come together to achieve a common goal. The corporate version of this brings marketing, human resources, and accounting together, for example, while dental teams bring the administrative, clinical assisting and hygienists together to achieve successful outcomes for patients and the practice. Independent expertise is just as critical as the skill of successfully passing the baton to the next department.
While the goal is to ultimately establish a seamless flow from one department to the next, the process can be downright messy at times. I spent a dozen years in the dental practice prior to starting my company, so I know, just as you do, that some days it seems like Murphy’s Law is having a field day at our expense. Then, out of nowhere the puzzle pieces start to fall into place and before you know it, the case works out, the openings in the schedule fill up and the team comes together to rock a successful day. Bravo Team! Everyone goes home happy and we come back the next day to start all over again, business as usual.
STOP RIGHT THERE
This is precisely where your success can get in your way. You and your team struck gold yesterday and it’s critical that you take the time to create the treasure map that will lead you to strike gold again. Rather than feeling like you got lucky, take the time to figure out exactly how you set yourself up for success, exactly how the seeds you planted sprouted, how the proactive tracking process you put in place paid off and/or how the relationships you nurture all contributed to your team’s ability to re-create a successful day on the fly. The insights you discover will enable you to re-create this awesome turnaround success the next time. Success leaves clues … mine the nuggets, capture the gold and reap the rewards of turning Murphy’s Law on its head. Your situational success will morph into creating a more predictable process.
Even the best and the brightest teams will fall short of their goals if they are not all on the same page. I’ve seen talented teams that are actually more of a group of people working alongside each other, but with competing priorities, plateau, unable to advance to the next level of success. The best way out of this rut, so you create new growth starts with coming together to shift the energy in the practice, to shift the practice culture. If you want to create a new culture, you have to change the energy feeding the old culture.
I hear from team members all the time that they are “working so hard.” One of my favorite shifts that occur in team development is when the team begins to realize that working hard is not an essential ingredient to success… achieving results is the essential part.
When there are openings in hygiene and someone is focused on how hard he or she is working and how many calls they are making, they are churning negative energy. When you’re on the phone, 92% of your success in communicating will be based on your voice quality and tone – that’s another way of saying it’s based on the energy in your voice. Remember the old adage, it’s not what you say, but how you say it? We’ve all experienced this, right? There’s a big difference between a monotone “Thanks for calling. How can I help you?” and an engaged “Thanks for calling. How can I help you?!” or better yet “Thanks for calling, I can help you!”
If you’re focused on how hard you’re working or how many phone calls you’re making, your voice quality and tone will reflect your struggle. If you’re focusing on the wonderful service you’re providing your patients by helping them stay on track and health, your energy level will shift & so will your results. Energy is either an asset or a liability – it’s a choice we make with every action.
You may think you can kid yourself about your focus, but your energy will not be fooled… neither will your coworkers or your patients.
Group Exercise for Your Practice
Here’s a quick exercise to get everyone focused on identifying your core values that give life (energy) to your practice.
First, everyone take a quick 10 seconds here and think about your role in the practice, what you do at work. Put your ideas up on a whiteboard or easel pad if it’s handy.
I’ve asked thousands of team members to do this and I find the focus is much too narrow and the responses are all position drive: I’m the doctor, I’m a hygienist, I’m an assistant. My favorites are the ones that identify as a piece of furniture when they say, “I’m the front desk.” Wow, we really need to elevate some team members’ images of themselves! I’m guessing most of your answers are probably much the same as I’ve seen, very task oriented.
At your next team meeting, I challenge you to go one step further and write down what you do without using any words that could be found in your job description. Work with a partner so you can rate each other’s answers and nix the ones that might be a task on a job description.
Bring everyone together to understand why you do what you do… and we all know it’s so much more than fixing teeth … it’s about who you are being when you do what you do… it’s about changing lives, restoring confidence and lifting people up.
Create a new list of all the roles you identify in this exercise. I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of teams and every time it has the same effect – it raises the stakes and makes each person’s contribution more meaningful than ever because the focus is on the WHAT & WHY instead of HOW they do their job.
Once you’ve got everyone on the same page with the WHAT & WHYthe power and the passion… the HOW becomes much easier to agree on and the proof is in the results!
Use the video below for your next huddle or team meeting to help facilitate the energy discussion in your practice.
We’ve all been there – out of nowhere you realize you are dealing with an upset person. This person could be on the other end of the telephone, or right there with you, it could be a patient or a coworker.
For a team that is committed to exceptional care and service, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s easy to be at your best when everything is going as planned, not so easy when the unexpected happens. You don’t ever need to be flustered as long as you are prepared with the right mindset and great responses that will let the other person know you are listening, understanding and want to help.
Here’s a great approach to working with an upset caller:
#1 Stay Calm & Remember:
The caller is angry about a situation & is emotional– it’s NOT personal– it’s just directed at you
Recognize you need to take control of the situation to best help the caller
Shift emotionally and physically into Rescue Mode – it’s your opportunity to turn things around
Listen for Understanding – be certain to write down the caller’s name and use it
Thank the caller: “Mary, thank you for taking the time to call and let us know something is not right”
#2 Remain Calm & Connect:
Talk and let your caller know you are there to help … “I’m listening… please tell me what has happened so I can help…”
Practice active listening and take concise notes: bullet points are sometimes easier than sentences
#3 Remain Calm & Steady:
Empathize with your caller. “I’d be upset if this happened to me too” or “Mary, I can certainly understand how you feel”
Confirm your understanding of the details of the situation “May I please ask a few questions to be certain I have all the information I need to best help you?”
#4 Remain Calm & Reassure your Caller:
Thank the caller again. “Thank you for helping me to better understand”
Take responsibility. Be sure your caller knows you are invested in helping them – not just taking a message. “I will personally see that we resolve this for you.” Or “I will personally see that I get you in contact with the person who can resolve this for you.” Or if possible, “Let me fix this for you right now”
#5 Remain Calm & Move Things Forward:
Find a win-win solution. “My goal is to resolve this situation for you. I will go ahead and …”
Or, “I have great news … I think I can fix this for you right now. Let’s go ahead and …”
Confirm your next step. “Will this be okay with you?”
#6 Follow Up As Promised:
Bring things to a positive close “I want to make sure we resolved this issue for you. Is there anything else I can do to assist you?”
Thank the caller again for taking the time to give you the opportunity to make things right. Let them know you really appreciate them and thank them for the opportunity to help.
One more quick tip:
Be authentic, respectful and empathetic – not accusatory or defensive. The three best words for gaining clarity are never “Why did you?” because the normal response is a defensive one. Instead, use these 3 magic words “Help me understand.”
Your tone and body language changes when you say these words and you will invite conversation that will be much more likely to lead to resolving the issue at hand. Successful communication is about consciously choosing your approach, leading with your best intentions and listening for opportunities to let your patient or coworker know you’re ultimately both on the same side wanting to create the best possible outcomes.
Last week we left on the question, “Do you think your best work days are behind you or ahead of you?” Let’s follow that up with this question from my YBY [Your Best You] Appraisal System. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being you’re not effective at all & 5 being you totally rock, exceeding expectations on all levels, how would you score yourself at work?
I like this method of scoring because it encourages continual growth and challenge, as opposed to the traditional 1-5 where 1 is an F for failing grade and 5 is an A for excellent work. The traditional approach measures each person’s performance while the YBY method scores each person against potential. Your potential gap will always be bigger than your performance gap. YBY scoring sets people up to see #5 as a moving target. The traditional scoring puts people on a fixed path that can lead to mediocrity and boredom. Studies repeatedly show that employees want to know they are making forward progress. It then stands to reason that we must provide challenges that create this opportunity if we are to support the development of our team members as they become the best versions of themselves.
Dentistry is changing at the speed of light offering many new treatment options for patients. For your practice to continue to perform at a pace that gives you the freedom to practice the way you choose, it’s critical that your team is with you, committed to a path of excellence and continual improvement.
My first goal is to help the team see their role and level of contribution must go beyond job performance of their essential duties. The leaders’ role is to establish an environment that supports continued growth as well as a mentoring system to support team members through a four-part system for continual growth and development including:
This assessment protocol is a game changer. When you move the needle so that consistent above average performance earns you a 3 out of 5, you can expect an immediate reaction from your employees. Set your team members up for success by preparing them for this new strategy that raises the bar on the old status quo. Challenge your team to step up and embrace the concept that “good enough, just isn’t” in your practice. To take a team from Good to Great, you must have team buy-in. That comes when your team is prepared to see challenge as opportunity.
Here’s a good place to start
Make a list of your current team members and write down the number from 1-5 that you think represents their performance level. Your criteria are as follows: 1 =Marginal Performance 2 = Usual, Average Performance 3 = Above Average Performance 4 = One Step Ahead Performance 5 = On the cutting edge, consistently challenging self Not sure how to choose a score? Look at each name: Does this person continually take action and strive to do better? [score 4] Are they generally coasting based on their good past performance? [score 3] Are they stuck at status quo, going through the motions? [score 2]
What can you do to create the right environment to inspire your team members to see themselves on a journey to excellence? How can you guide them to set their ego aside and own a score of 3, while enthusiastically committed to improving that sore to a solid 4?
This approach isn’t for everyone – you may be perfectly content with team members who score 2 or 3 in the grid above. If that’s the case, carry on, you’re in a good place right now. On the other hand, if you just know in your gut that you want more and you’re capable of more, listen to that voice and don’t settle for less. Be the boss that your team will remember as the one who challenged me to be the very best version of myself.
Gratitude shows up in many ways. About ten years ago I was invited to speak to a group of referring dentists celebrating the retirement of an orthodontist who had practiced for over 50 years.
I asked this doctor, “How many families would you guess you have you supported during your career?” He answered that he wasn’t sure how many patient families he had treated.
“Not patients” I responded, “I am wondering how many team members you have helped support their families.”
I was surprised when his eyes got teary and he told me he had never even considered that question. He then thanked me for the gift of the question that made his heart so happy. This was a moment I’ll never forget.
It’s often said, that in business your people are your best competitive advantage. Some even describe employees as your human capital. While true, I think the value your team brings to you, your patients and your practice far exceeds those descriptions. Dentistry is a team sport, you can’t do it all by yourself. Your team members are essential to your success and they should be the beautiful representation of the face, the voice and the essence of your practice. Don’t settle for any less.
...his eyes got teary and he told me he had never even considered that question. He then thanked me for the gift of the question that made his heart so happy.
In my experience, if you wish to provide world-class care and service to your patients, you must first:
Provide world-class care to your employees; they are basically your first clients
Treat them well – Care about them and their families
Establish clear boundaries and guidelines via a policy & procedures manual, and protocols
Support team member growth and development within their roles in the practice
By recognizing and rewarding the behaviors and deliverables that you wantto be repeated, you will be proactively nurturing the seeds of success while creating a culture of gratitude.
Your team may change through the years; your systems, protocols, and boundaries should grow with the practice and support a win-win environment. It’s near impossible to be in a state of appreciation and annoyance at the same time. Lead with appreciation and gratitude.
Doctors often tell me they are grateful for the team, but they don’t know what to thank people for since they spend their days focused on patient care. I have a favorite activity to share with you that increases awareness and the opportunity to lead with gratitude.