When was the last time you sat down with each of your team members individually, acknowledged them for what they are doing right, communicated the areas of their performance that need improvement, and helped them develop a plan to exceed your expectations and become an “A” Player?
Every time I lead a workshop, I ask the dentists if they’ve conducted a recent performance appraisal with team members. The answer is almost always “No.” When I ask why, they tell me, “I avoid them because I know my staff members are just going to ask for a raise.”
The first thing to remember is that performance appraisals and salary increases are separate events; they do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. The purpose of a performance appraisal is to make sure that team members and doctors are in alignment when it comes to expectations. That’s all.
The End of the Performance Appraisal
Consider the process more of a “growth conference”. If someone has been on your team for any length of time and you've decided to keep them, then the discussion is no longer about performance, it’s about “how do we take you from good to great?”
Create an evaluation form that you have both the employee and their immediate supervisor fill out before the meeting. Include the following questions:
• List 4-essential duties/responsibilities that the team member performs well?
• List 4-essential duties/responsibilities that the team members’ performance needs improvement?
• Employee Growth Plan: What can the team member do to help him/herself? (List what, how, and by when?)
• Employer Growth Plan: What can the employer do to help the team member? (List what, how, and by when?)
Schedule a time to sit down and discuss what’s been written. Focus on any discrepancies in performance and expectations, and build an improvement plan together. You should have growth conferences with all team members at least two times a year.
Hire Slow & Fire Fast
Before adding a new employee to your practice, make sure you have a solid hiring process (including standard interview questions, referral checking process, and a structured working interview), and be very clear on what you expect from your new hire. Once you’ve selected your next superstar, invest time in formal training of your systems and protocols and providing frequent feedback. Meet with your new hire each week during the first month of employment, and then every 2-weeks thereafter through their 90-day orientation period (not “probation” – they are not criminals). The goal is to help them become a great team member in your practice. In 30-days you will know if this person is going to be great or not. If not, cut your losses and go find somebody who is going to become an “A” Player.
A Salary Boost Might Actually Make You Money
Salary adjustments can be a part of the growth conference if your staff member is performing their duties in an extraordinary way.
One of my clients had a fabulous dental hygienist who hurt her leg. He’d just let his front desk person go so he moved his hygienist out front while she recuperated but kept her at her existing rate. She was already an “A” player and she did an amazing job in her new position.
But now he needed a hygienist, so he hired a new one. She too was excellent. She was so excellent, that for a while she was both the doctor’s hygienist and his personal dental assistant. Eventually, he moved her into the assistant spot full time. But he kept her at her hygiene rate.
Once again, he was short a hygienist so he hired another one. Ultimately, he had three people on his team, all doing different jobs, all being paid hygienist’s wages. But, as a team they were incredible; efficient, productive, etc. Production / collections grew quickly.
His CPA went crazy! There was no way he could afford to keep this up. We went back to the actual numbers and were able to demonstrate that the new team was outperforming anything they’d ever done before.
Payroll overhead was still under 22%. Team members received bonuses every month; everybody was happy! We told the CPA we could afford the salaries. What we couldn’t afford was to be less than exceptional.
Top performers are always looking for ways to improve their value to the practice. Do you have a successful strategy to help get your team members to grow personally & professionally? Leave a comment below.
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Wes Jankowski Is the Founder/President of CEODentistAs a Business Strategist and Executive Coach, Wes provides Dentists and their teams with the Leadership, Marketing, Business and Financial Management training needed to take their practice from good to great!
Wes is a speaker / lecturer on the topics of Dental Practice Marketing and demystifying the Business of Dentistry. He writes a successful weekly blog and is the author of numerous articles on Dental Practice Management.
Wes Jankowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ceodentist.com