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Aligning Objectives of the Dentist, Team & Patient

You have goals. You wouldn’t be where you are without them. But what about your office manager or hygienist, not to mention your patients?

 Everyone in and around your practice has a personal objective. So how do you align those goals in a way that creates an even better outcome for your office’s growth?

Laura Jamison, a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, talked about that very topic with the CEO of Patient Prism, Amol Nirgudkar.

Jamison, who started her career in an exceptional dentistry environment, offers some key strategies to align the objectives of the dentist, team, and patients.

Learn the things you don’t know about your practice.

That may mean hiring a coach.

“Part of it is, somebody else will see things you don’t see,” said Nirgudkar. “If you see something every single day, you stop seeing it because it’s become part of your routine.” 

Ignoring problems, or neglecting to find out what you don’t know, can hamper your growth. That can be a big wake up call for some doctors, said Jamison. 

A coach can bring solutions, but more importantly they can uncover issues you’re unaware of because you’re focused on what you do best — dentistry. And that’s OK. 

Find an objective observer with your interests in mind. 

“An objective party gives them feedback about what’s being heard and see what most dentists don’t see,” Jamison said. “Most dentists will tell me ‘I rarely hear that conversation over the phone.’” 

Many dentists may shy away from hiring a coach, said Nirgudkar, yet the greatest athletes, performers and businessmen employ coaches throughout their careers. 

“If somebody can tell me what I don’t know, then I can make better decisions than going by the purely gut-based decision-making that most people engage in,” he said. “The coach takes that emotion out of it and objectively lays out the pros and cons of making a decision” 

Create an optimal environment to motivate your team. 

If one of your major concerns is the quality of your staff, you’re not alone. The team can be the Achilles’ heel of many a practice, Nirgudkar said. 

Jamison said one client called her in a panic because he had to fire an office manager after 30 years and didn’t know what to do. She headed to his practice and began working with the staff. 

“We preserved the relationship of the newly-hired business assistant, who had threatened to leave because she couldn’t work with the former office manager,” she said. 

Communicating with the patients was also crucial. Patients should come before profits, and dentists need to not only believe it — because it’s the right thing to do — but it’s the better solution, she said. 

“So a good team is going to be essentially motivated by that message. That has to come from the leader,” Jamison said. 

Recruit the right team and retain them. 

“I usually put my clients through a three-step process,” she said. 

  1. Put the word out there: Use inexpensive, online job boards like Indeed and others
  2. Screen, screen, screen. First, on the telephone, then in person, when they can fill out an application.
  3. Interview with the doctor: If the candidate has passed the phone and application screening, follow this up with a proficiency trial of up to 3 hours working in your office. 

“The telephone screening is to assess certain skills,” she said. “The appearance for the application is to assess certain things you don't get over the phone.” 

And the proficiency trial allows you and your team to assess how they do their job and how they interact with people. 

Jamison has a form she gives clients with 60 personal characteristics and traits that allow practices to chart to get a better picture of the candidate. 

A psychological or personality test is also a good idea, and cost-effective testing can be found at DentalPost.net, among other sites. 

Discuss expectations with candidates — then pay them well. 

“When a leader puts people before profit, they can expect a lot,” Jamison said. “Pay them well, give them incentives. But to whom much is given, much is expected. 

“And if you have a culture where that’s the understanding, then I believe any dentist can accomplish a long-term relationship with their team.”

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