By Laura Hatch
Dental schools do not train you to run a business. They give you the tools to be a great dental clinician. The typical office is run by an owner who (more than likely) has not had business and management training. That’s why many dentists and practice managers reach out for advice and guidance. They look for help in leadership, team management, staying aligned with the mission of the practice, and zeroing in on areas of needed growth. There’s a huge value in a “10,000 foot view” from an outside perspective. I know tons of great consultants in our industry who work wonders with dentists and teams across the country, helping them get systems in place and achieve the goals that they are trying to reach. Consulting takes a big picture view of your practice and will
help you get systems in place to reach your practice goals. What happens when the consultant leaves and you have staff turnover, or the schedule is not getting filled?
This is why it’s imperative to have a dental training program to refer too. Training is the action of teaching a person how to do the task so they can accomplish the goal. It is the step-by-step “how to” of what needs to be done, the reason why it is important, and the outcome of what is expected when it is finished. Most importantly, training focuses on making improvements on a job duty level and is task-focused.
Many times dentists or practice managers tell an employee to make something happen, such as, filling tomorrow’s schedule. The problem is when the dentist tells the employee to do that task, the dentist may not necessarily understand how to accomplish this task and therefore cannot show the employee how to do it. The employee might have the best intention while trying to accomplish the task but may not be successful in getting it done correctly. You know what your targets are to hit your goals for the year, but the path to get there is not clear without a map.
In some cases, training is important even when your office is using a consultant. The consultant looks from the high level, big picture view and helps the doctor and team to become the best they can. However, the consultant is not there 24/7. This is where training comes into play. Training helps the employees on an individual level learn how to do day-to-day tasks and job duties so that they can help accomplish the big picture goals.
It’s not just any training, but the right type of training is vital to make sure that the employee and team are working at the highest level possible. Many times, training happens where one employee shows the new employee how to do things, based off their experiences and knowledge, not necessarily based off policy or procedure. It’s like that old adage, “We do it this way because it always has been done this way.”
Employees tend to evolve their processes of how things are done over time, and sometimes that evolution leads to an off-track variation of what was taught to them in the beginning.Another obstacle is, allowing new employees to be trained by existing staff; you’re going to see something get half-done, because it’s impossible for someone to provide thorough training while also performing their job duties effectively. Either the new employee will be half-trained because the existing staff was distracted by present job duties, or the existing staff will be meeting the bare minimum in daily job duties because of placing so much attention on training the new employee. Being great at their job does not make them great trainers, it takes a certain personality to train another person well.
Having a structured training plan avoids these obstacles. When everyone is taught from day one, the same way, there is a consistency of what everyone learns as they join an organization. This allows the new employee to learn the right way from the start and be able to implement their duties correctly from the beginning. There is a value in both consulting and training, but they are very different. As a manager or business owner, you need to clearly distinguish what needs to be accomplished. When you are trying to get employees up to speed and effective in their duties, having a strong consistent training program is the way to go. Good training will help your organization grow and achieve goals by empowering your team to be the best they can be.
As the founder and CEO of Front Office Rocks, the leader in web-based front office training for dental practices, Laura Hatch provides real-world front office expertise and training for dental practice success. In addition to her success with Front Office Rocks, she is a sought after public speaker, and author of over 2000 published articles, and has helped hundreds of doctors grow their practices. Learn more about Laura at FrontOfficeRocks.com.