The Hidden & Expensive Perils of Untrained Staff

“Why can’t I get my team to work together and do as I ask?”  

By Amy Smith

More than any other issue I encounter on a consistent basis as a dental practice management consultant, this question, or something very similar to it, is typically my client’s #1 concern. Below is a list of other, similar, questions I often get asked. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • Why won’t my team do what I ask them to do?
  • How can I create a winning team?
  • Why doesn’t my team take advantage of CE courses when I offer to pay?
  • Mary has been with me for years, but she won’t participate, change, or do anything differently. What can I do about that?
  • Julie has young kids and she’s getting a divorce. I can’t expect her to change, take on more, or show up on time, right?
  • Ted is often late. I’ve talked to him but it keeps happening. Why?  
  • I send them for training but they don’t implement what they learn when they get back. Why not?
  • I go to meetings and see team members from other practices that are awesome. Why can’t mine be like that?

And then there are the ‘wishes’:

  1. I wish I had a good team.
  2. I wish I didn’t feel like a babysitter all the time.
  3. I wish our meetings were more productive.  

Regardless of how long you’ve been in practice, whether 5, 10, 15 or 20+ years, if you are getting the same lackluster results year after year, ask yourself, what needs to change to make this your best year ever?

We’ll get to that below, but first, let’s face some uncomfortable facts. See if any of the following apply to you:

  • Dentists often accept bad behavior or a poor work ethic at the expense of their business.
  • They want change, but are unwilling to do the work required to implement the change.
  • They are unwilling to hold themselves and their team members accountable because they dread the ‘push-back’.

Read that again! The #1 reason you choose to put up with team members who do not comply, listen or learn is that you don’t like the push-back. It’s uncomfortable. It causes friction and stress. It means you might have to fire someone and go through the hiring process all over again. Aughh! You don’t want all that push-back, so you don’t act.  So how do we correct the problem?

In reality, what you have to do to make this year your best year ever involves a pretty simple formula:

  • Raise your expectations. Stop accepting bad behavior or low performance.
  • Train appropriately in order to give your team the skills they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability and help your practice become more profitable, ie invest in your team. Understand this is not a one-off occurrence. Training is a living, breathing thing. (See below: Why Invest in Training for your Dental Team?)
  • Once trained, hold your team accountable to implement what they have learned.
    Employ the “do it anyway” rule. If you have a low performer who doesn’t want to do as you ask, start by telling them to do it anyway. (Would you let your 4-year-old child say no to sitting in a car seat?)
  • Raise the bar. Reward those who deserve it, and replace those who do not. Someone wants the job, and the best will always seek the best.

Some will continue to complain and object. These are the team members who will always seek to avoid accountability. They are your lowest performers, and they are still working for you because you have ignored their transgressions, or maybe even made excuses for them, leaving others to try and work around them.

This increases stress and demotivates others, many times to the point that everything grinds to a halt. (You don’t see these employees at top-performing companies like Starbucks, IBM, Google or Apple. Low-performers and excuse-makers are long gone and everyone is happier and more productive for it.)

Remember, when a team member objects, they are telling you they are done learning.  Good employees will always seek good training, and they will always seek a productive, fair and enjoyable workplace. If you don’t offer that to them, you will lose them, and have no one to blame but yourself.

Why invest in training for your dental team?

“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.” —Zig Ziglar, American Author, Salesman and Motivational Speaker

Countless studies and business bottom lines show that companies reap many benefits from investing in training for employees. For instance:

Training saves money. A better-skilled workforce means fewer problems overall, for instance, lower maintenance costs, lower staff turnover, lower recruitment costs, fewer insurance write-offs,  fewer front desk calls, less need for supervision.

Training enhances profits. According to the American Society for Training and Development, investment in employee training enhances a company's financial performance. For instance, firms that invest in comprehensive training:
-- Have 218% higher income per employee than those with less comprehensive training.
-- Enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.

Training improves employee performance. In quality, quantity, speed, safety, problem-solving, attitude, ethics, motivation, leadership, and communication.
Training saves labor. By reducing duplication of effort, time spent on problem-solving and time spent on correcting mistakes.

Training saves supervisory and administrative resources. The less time and money a doctor/office manager has to spend on monitoring and overseeing employees, the more time is freed up for more profitable activities.

Training improves customer satisfaction. Better-quality work means better-quality services and customer satisfaction, resulting in happier and more loyal patients.

Training improves employee satisfaction and retention. Many doctors assume that once employees are trained, they are more likely to leave the practice for better jobs, but in reality the opposite is true -- trained team members are happier and more likely to stay put. Their self-esteem improves, which in turn improves morale in the workplace and their loyalty to you.

How to make this your best year ever

I’ve been coaching doctors and their teams for over 20 years, as a facilitator and coach, helping them implement effective, productive business solutions and systems. Now that you have raised your expectations, trained your team, established accountability and eliminated non-performers, the practice you’ve always dreamed of – happy team, happy patients, financial success – is at your fingertips.
Please contact me if you need help, or have questions. I welcome the opportunity to discuss how I can help your practice and your team have its best year ever.