Turning a group of orthodontic practice employees into a high-performance team takes a considerable amount of knowledge and skill. If you’re serious about reaching higher levels of operating efficiency and productivity, you’ll continue learning about team building for the rest of your career. There are no shortcuts. There are, however, 10 simple guidelines to show the way:
- Hire for Potential: Contrary to what some orthodontists think, great practice teams are made, not hired. Rather than trying to find perfect, ready-made team members, bring out the potential of those you hire or already have on staff.
- Set Targets: The best leaders focus on what they want their staff to achieve rather than simply do. Targets (number of new patients, rate of case acceptance, overhead percentage, production, etc) drive the team… not to mention you.
- Implement Systems: Design step-by-step protocols that team members will use to achieve the targets. Smart management systems increase efficiency and effectiveness while reducing stress.
- Create System Documentation: Spell out every step so there’s no room for interpretation, no chance to forget. Include a simple, streamlined checklist that team members can use to stay at the top of their game.
- Write Scripts: All interactions with patients should be scripted in ways that will motivate them to take the desired actions. Prepared with scripting, your team member will be highly capable of reaching their targets.
- Delegate Responsibilities: Free yourself for higher production by delegating as much as you can to staff members. Give them their targets and whatever they need to achieve them.
- Provide Ongoing Training: Design a comprehensive staff training program, including on-site and off-site components, cross-training, role playing with scripts, and so on.
- Use Job Descriptions: Based on all of the above, make your expectations clear.
- Conduct Performance Reviews: Once or twice a year, sit down with each employee to note their progress, identify areas for improvement, learn about their aspirations, and acknowledge their contributions.
- Inspire Team Members: Use a combination of financial incentives (including bonuses) and signs of respect and appreciation to keep staff highly motivated.
There’s much to learn in each of these areas. Think of this as your syllabus for lifelong learning about team building.