I spent some time with a great practice this past week, and the doctor asked me a great question that I thought you might be interested in hearing my answer.
This doctor is very productive, he works 5 clinical hours a day, and he wanted to hire a manager to take care of the daily operations of the practice so that he could spend all of his time being clinically productive. Which is a great plan, by the way, because being clinically productive is the highest value of your time – that only another doctor in your practice could replicate.
The problem was, he was expecting to find someone who would have his high level of knowledge in dentistry, he wanted (but didn’t realize he wanted) someone who had the same philosophy as he did, made the same decisions as he did. The reality is, that person doesn’t exist.
It’s going to take time to develop that person from the team you have today or by going outside of your current team. Therefore, I am always a proponent of developing talent throughout the practice. It is why I teach doctors to start delegating early to build your team's experience. Teach the skills of managing early so that when you are ready to spend 100% of your time in the clinical chair you already have a support system. It is amazing when your teaming is running the day to day operations for you.
Let’s take a look at HOW you go about developing a team or a team member.
First you have to teach them the mechanics of what you do, which is relatively easy. The harder part is to develop the judgement on when to do what – that’s a little bit harder. And finally, you want to mentor them through the learning.
Let’s look at what you can do to teach the mechanics of what you do. First you want to figure out what they need to learn and then figure out the best way to teach it to them.
Last month, at our quarterly Diamond Coaching Members Retreat, I shared one of the ways that I used to train my team members to understand my thought process on diagnosis and treatment planning. It’s interesting, because in dentistry, we don’t have black and white diagnostic criteria. Meaning that when 2 different dentists look at the case, they will have varying treatment plans (this is a big part of what is so confusing for patients who see one doctor who doesn’t want to place a restoration and another who does.) Imagine if that is happening inside of your own practice? Or if your hygienists think one thing and you think another.
What I Would Do...
What I would do, is take every Thursday’s morning huddle and we would go through a case. I would put up the x-rays, the intra-oral photographs, we would review the case history and I would go around the room asking everyone (regardless of their position in the practice) what they saw and what they thought I would want to do. And then I would walk them through my thought process. I'd start with what I saw in the mouth and why I would recommend what I was recommending. This did two things. It taught everyone in the practice how to be on the same page, how to use the same language, and it taught those who needed to learn how to think like me to think like me. Our case acceptance started to rise when we all spoke the same language and when my team could look at a patient and say “Well, I am not the doctor, but I am guessing that Dr. Meis is going to recommend x, y, and z.” This made the patients feel comfortable and well taken care of and therefore our case acceptance went up.
Your job is to teach them the mechanics, mentor them while doing it and most importantly and the hardest for all of us, you have to give them the opportunity to do it. There is no better way to learn than to do it.
To train someone you need time, more time than it takes you to do the task. It’s important that you schedule out that time, to give your team member the best chance at success. This can’t be something you do when you have time, because you will never get around to it.
The biggest pitfall I see, is at the first time that your team member doesn’t do something the way you would do it – we jump in and we take over. You undelegated what you just worked to delegate. While that might get the job done – it doesn’t get you very far.