Offering feedback helps your team and practice grow

2016 05 24 14 35 52 802 Mc Kenzie Sally 2016 400

Your team members crave feedback. They want to know what they're doing right and where they can improve. Without feedback from you, the practice CEO, they don't have the direction they need to excel in their roles and ultimately help move the practice toward true success and profitability.

Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

If you're like most dentists, you probably don't spend much time giving team members the feedback they need. That's not why you became a dentist, after all. You'd rather focus on dentistry, and trust your team members are doing their part to contribute. The problem is, if you're not offering your team members direction, they're likely not meeting their full potential -- and that means your practice isn't either.

A strong team doesn't just develop on its own. It starts with hiring the right people for the right roles, and then providing them with the tools, training, and feedback they need to succeed. Continual feedback from you is an important part of helping your team members grow and motivating them to improve their performance.

And giving feedback once or twice a year during performance reviews simply isn't enough. Most dentists sit down with employees for a few minutes, tell them they're doing a great job, and then give them a little extra money in their paycheck.

While you might think a small bump in pay will motivate team members to improve their performance, it won't. Why should it? In their minds, if you've given them a raise, they must be doing something right.

“A strong team doesn't just develop on its own.”

When dentists don't give continual feedback, not only does the practice suffer, team morale does as well. Team members want to feel like they can grow in their roles and truly contribute to practice success. If you never let them know when you're happy with their performance or give them advice on how they can improve, they'll likely feel a little lost -- which could send them looking for another job and leave you with the headaches that come with staff turnover.

Rather than providing no feedback at all, some dentists drop subtle hints. Maybe they make passing comments during a staff meeting or post sticky notes with vague messages. This does nothing to address the issue and likely only leaves team members feeling confused.

Scheduling example

Let's say your schedule is a mess. Some days you find yourself running from patient to patient just trying to keep up, and other days there are gaping holes caused by last-minute cancellations and no-shows. Instead of talking with the scheduling coordinator about the importance of scheduling to keep you productive and developing a plan to reduce broken appointments, you mention in a team meeting that your schedule has been a little chaotic lately.

While you might think this is enough to get the message across, it does nothing to tell the scheduling coordinator it's time to make the necessary changes to get your schedule back on track.

The truth is, you need to provide constructive feedback every day. This will go a long way in helping your team members improve performance and in growing your bottom line. Team members will no longer have to guess how they're doing or how they can improve. They'll know, which will help them become more efficient members of your team.

OK, so now you're probably wondering when you should actually give this feedback. You can offer feedback at any time, but it's most effective when the team member is engaging in the behavior you want to praise or correct.

See one of your team members providing excellent customer service to a nervous patient? Let the team member know you noticed and appreciate the extra effort. Hear one of your team members be short with patients on the phone? Take that team member aside and discuss proper telephone techniques, and offer scripts and extra training if necessary.

Creating an environment that encourages both positive feedback and constructive criticism is important. When employees receive feedback every day, they'll understand how important their contributions are to the practice. Feedback will help them grow and develop, making them more efficient and confident in their roles. This will lead to a happier work environment and a more robust bottom line.

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, which offers educational and management products available at Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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