Endo Mastery

MAINTAINING PRACTICE SUCCESS WITH STAFF TURNOVER

DR. ACE GOERIG

OWNER & CO-FOUNDER

A recent Harvard Business Review analysis indicates that pandemic-influenced resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees in the 30 to 45 years old range, and also among healthcare workers. Translation: well-trained, educated and experienced people are more mobile than ever in the job market.

 

While media reports focus on shortage trends (how many teaching, trucking, and nursing positions are vacant, etc.), just one vacant position in your practice can create huge business challenges. Endodontic practices don’t operate with a lot of “fluff” in their staffing. Everyone plays a vital role, and the whole practice is built around everyone being in their place on a daily basis.

 

Obviously, a resignation initiates an immediate recruitment drive to find a new person. Debra Miller, Director of Coaching, shared some tips last year for recruiting. But recently, many doctors have found it is very difficult to find a new person at the same level of proficiency of the person who is leaving.

Impact of the Experience Gap

In most practices, a new team member who lacks experience creates an immediate ripple effect on overall team productivity. Even small things can take longer. Communication can suffer. Mistakes occur more frequently, which can lead to stress and drama. In short, the rhythm of your team is disrupted, and daily flow is disturbed.

 

This can be more pronounced in highly productive teams where the teamwork and systems of the practice have been tuned for higher performance and optimized at a more nuanced level. The finer details of teamwork that make the practice particularly productive often aren’t even perceived by an inexperienced new team member.

 

Even if you can replace a team member with someone equally experienced, it’s important to remember that they will also come with baggage that interferes with productivity. That baggage is the systems and procedures that they are accustomed to in their previous practice. That can be significantly different than the standards in your practice, which creates an alignment issue.

Maintaining Success During Turnover

Often when I look at the historical performance factors of a practice, I notice a sequence of months where there was a sudden drop in productivity … sometimes by as much as 10%. That equates to over $7000 per month in an average practice. Questioning the doctor often reveals those months are when a key team member left the practice.

 

The only way to maintain productivity and flow in the face of staff turnover is through an effective and focused training program. It is even more important when you can’t hire at the same level of experience. Instead, you should hire for attitude and then train, train, train them up to the level you want.

 

Most doctors under-invest in team training in general, which is why many practices linger in the average range and under-achieve their possibilities. Growth in an endodontic practice is largely driven by the team, and a team without training resources can rarely improve on their own.

 

Training is never more important than during staff turnover and yet doctors often make the barest of efforts to provide training. They hope the new person can learn on the go by osmosis, and that other team members will fill in the gaps when needed. This kind of passive approach prolongs the pain of staff turnover.

 

Your team is the human capital that drives your business success. Practices need an active strategy for training, especially for turnover and also for growth in general. It’s always a useful process to ask yourself if your team is at the level that it should be at, if each individual team member is at the level that they should be at, and what is your plan of action to get the team to the right level? … And keep them there!

BEING A COACH FOR YOUR TEAM

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Somewhere in the spectrum between being a leader and a manager is the powerful role of being a coach. Let’s understand what a leader and manager are first, and then we can clarify why being a coach for your team is so important.

 

The role of the leader is to set the vision. The leader is fundamentally curious about possibilities, opportunities, growth and the future of the business. By articulating the vision passionately, leaders inspire the team to create alignment and commitment, which are essential for evolving the practice.

 

By contrast, the role of the manager is to get results. The manager strives to create focused accountability, so teams achieve specific known goals. Managers set standards, define procedures, and ensure tasks are completed on time and correctly. Consistency, effectiveness and efficiency are all within the domain of the manager.

 

There is always going to be tension between your inner leader, who relishes in future possibilities, and your inner manager, who focuses on today’s realities. That’s why the central role of coach is so vital!

What Is a Coach?

The role of the coach is to close the gap between vision and reality. Most importantly, a coach understands that the best way is to prioritize the team, teach them better ways to accomplish their goals, give them the systems and resources they need to grow, and support them with encouragement, structure and feedback.


In short, your inner coach should be focused on developing the abilities of individual team members as well as how the team works together collectively. It’s a growth process where you have to give your team what they need to be successful, but allow them the space to learn, internalize, problem-solve and feel a sense of ownership with each stage of growth and success.


Of course, your inner manager immediately wants to take control and micro-manage every new detail. But that is rarely helpful during learning stages because you’re just teaching the team to follow new directions, rather than developing true competency.


The easiest comparison is your children and their school homework. If you jump in and do your children’s homework for them, you are working against your own goals. They won’t learn and they’ll become more and more dependent on you to give them the answers. Instead, you want to be a coach that encourages and supports them, guides them in the right direction, and helps them to figure it out what to do and how to do it.

How Coaching Helps You

What I have learned over the years as a corporate leader and personal growth educator is that everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs someone who believes in them, and who sees their high value. Great coaches shine the light on a better way and how to get there.


That applies at a personal level (such as life coaching through Legacy Life Consulting), at the business level through Endo Mastery, and also with areas like family, worship, community and pastimes (such as sports). It’s ironic how readily most people would accept coaching for golf, video games, or other hobbies but they resist expert guidance for the more important things in life where much more is at stake.


At Endo Mastery, we are very devoted to being great coaches for dental teams. We can’t be in your practice on daily basis to do everything for your team, but we excel at giving teams the resources, instruction, guidance and motivation to grow quickly with measurable results.


In the same way, what really sets Endo Mastery apart from other consultants is that we are great coaches for doctors. We’re not just coming in to help you “manage” your practice better; we’re energizing you (as the leader of your practice) with new possibilities, inspiration, and strategies to achieve a level of success in your practice and life that you probably never thought possible.

UNTRAINING, RETRAINING AND CROSS-TRAINING

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

Keep the team running smoothly, performing at a high level, and helping the practice to grow requires a steady and focused approach to training. A team trained to the highest professional standards becomes your greatest asset and practice building. Teams that fall short of the mark can limit your success. Here’s some training tips that every practice can use:

Usually when you hire new people, you look for someone with previous dental (or preferably, endo) experience. You count on them coming with a set of skills that lets them integrate quickly and productively with your office.

 

What you don’t count on, and often overlook, is that they also come with the habits, values and mindsets of their previous practice. It can be a big gamble whether those things are aligned to your office. Many times, a new team member is thrown into the mix and it can be a big surprise down the road when you realize they’re in conflict with your goals.

 

Every new team member needs one-on-one training, which is often the responsibility of your office manager (for the administrative team) or your clinical lead (for dental assistants). Part of that training needs to be focused on finding the things that need to be untrained. Your team leader, when training and showing job responsibilities to the new team member, should be asking, “How is this different from the way you did it in your previous practice?”

 

By asking that question and highlighting differences, you create awareness for the new team member of the aspects of their job that they should not be relying on their “default” knowledge nor assuming your practice is the same.

Retraining isn’t about learning again how to do something; it’s about learning how to do something better. In that light, retraining is actually an ongoing process, because dental teams should always be striving to improve.

 

Every time something good happens, it challenges you to ask what can be done to keep the good times rolling. Every time something negative happens, it always challenges you to look for ways to improve so it doesn’t happen again.

 

But adapting to these challenging questions is a challenge in itself because often the answer isn’t definitive. Sometimes you are asking team members to be creative and try new things. That’s when you often experience resistance from your team … maybe not open disagreement, but the harder-to-detect “lack of genuine effort”. Team members get attached to doing things in a certain way, they become good at that, and they are often reluctant to step out on a limb when there is no clear benchmark for success.

 

In retraining, mindset matters more than anything. You have to create a culture that values learning and growth, accepts there are going to be bumps on the road to anything new, and rewards people who fully engage with the process. It’s groupthink, and progressive encouraging leadership that reinforces vision and goals is vital.

Everyone on the practice team plays a vital role. As long as everyone is there, in their lane and performing at a great level, every day can run smoothly. But what happens when something is out of place or goes wrong? A team member is absent, or an emergency (or more) needs to be scheduled into an already full day, or you have an equipment failure that slows everything down.

 

When these situations happen, it’s important that everyone who is on deck is capable of pitching in as much as possible to handle the flow. That’s where cross-training is so important.

 

There are certain tasks normally done by dental assistants that administrators can learn how to do. For example, turning over an operatory between appointments, or instrument sterilization. Be mindful of state regulations that may require licensure and a formal training program in infection control. Likewise, assistants should know how to cover certain tasks of the administrative team. For example, answering the phone, scheduling a patient, or processing a payment.

 

When you have team members who can adapt and be where they are most needed (even if it’s outside their normal role), you create a lot of flexibility. That gives you “court sense” on the fly to direct the team optimally as the schedule flow warrants.

TIPS FOR RECRUITING NEW TEAM MEMBERS

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

Finding the right person for practice openings is always hard, and as we move into a post-pandemic environment there appears to be more competition than ever to hire the best. At a recent Mastery Circle webinar, we discussed some ideas to help practices with recruiting:

  • Expand your outreach. In addition to all the usual places you would post a job, don’t forget Facebook, Craigslist, the doctor’s personal Linked In page and on your practice’s social media.
  • Develop relationships with local dental assisting and dental administration schools. Offer to be a guest speaker and create opportunities to mix with potential candidates to discover who might be a good fit for your practice.
  • Ask your referring doctors if they know anyone who they wish they could hire but don’t have an opening for.
  • Be clear about the qualities you are hiring for. Focus first on the right mindset: good personality for dental, and a hard worker.
  • Advertise what training that you will provide. Are you willing to train the right person completely? What are the minimum qualifications you are looking for?
  • Many practices have a legacy mindset of female team members. Don’t hesitate to consider male candidates.
  • Create a recruitment bonus for your team referrals. For example, a $500 bonus paid half at the time of hiring and half after 90 days.
  • Similarly, offer a sign-on incentive for new team members: $500 to $1000 dollars with half up front and half after a 90-day probation period.
  • Hire a recruiter for professional assistance.

One final tip: Don’t hire from your key referring offices without talking to the referring doctor first. It’s important to know if the candidate has their doctor’s blessing to move on and, if so, for what reason.