Why training is critical for your practice in 2020

2020 01 04 00 17 0878 Salisbury Dana 400thumb

We hear of diet and health plans that become renewed this time each year. Gym memberships are highest in January and fall off by June. Before you realize it, another year will pass -- and you may not achieve your goals. It is the same with your practice goals.

With a new year comes a reflection of frustration and focus on goals for the future, but it can be nearly impossible in attaining those goals without a plan of action. When you reflect on the previous year's shortfalls, remember that a company is only as agile and prosperous as its team. Filling the skills gap and creating buy-in for the process is the training and development focus that will get you there.

We hear that your employees are your biggest asset, and those assets walk out the door each day. You want to empower them so that they continue to return each day.

Dana Salisbury.Dana Salisbury.

When revenue is down, dental practices quickly react to eliminate consultant relationships, seminar attendance, and other training opportunities. With one of the highest turnovers in any industry, the dental profession seems to be a training experience by dilution and osmosis from one team member to the next. This setup does nothing for employee retention, and the practice owner becomes stuck on the hamster wheel.

Dental offices typically offer little to no formal on-boarding and rarely provide formal training before expecting employees to control their daily schedule. It's not fair to them or you.

A large portion of that responsibility goes to the reactiveness in the hiring process. Typically, we hire to fill empty roles in the practice instead of forecasting and planning for the unexpected. We know that the lack of training is one of the top reasons employees leave a job today, with each departure costing employers anywhere from 10% to 30% to hire a replacement.

The cost to lose an employee with a salary of $45,000 is approximately $13,000. So, let's agree that we're going to spend this money whether we lose the employee or not. Let's be proactive and offer training and development within a strategic path that aligns with your practice's goals.

The most successful practices don't cut training budgets when revenue is down. When income is down, practices must increase training investments! But what if we changed our viewpoint to match the other industries and viewed training as an investment?

Amazon is one of the top revenue-generating companies in the world, and it is looking to invest $700 million to train 100,000 of their employees. Over half of all companies consider training and development a top priority, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD) 2019 State of the Industry Report. We know that companies that employ more than 10,000 people invest more in training and development than small businesses. Perhaps this is the missing variable that separates the small from the large corporations. It's something to consider.

Across all industries, companies with fewer than 500 employees are spending an average of $2,400 per employee on training and development alone, totaling 59.2 hours annually, according to the ATD report. If you are looking for a more solid metric, you may consider a set percentage of your overhead designated toward training and development. However, you are encouraged to invest evenly in education for all your team members to elevate everyone together. Efforts like this will also much unify your team through shared experiences.

If you feel too busy for training, I urge you to carve the time out to make it happen. You aren't reaching your full potential! Online learning can be a great start at a lower price point. Across all industries, 43% of all training and development is achieved online, according to the ATD report. There should be a mix in all training methods performed, as each employee on your team has a different preference and ability to learn in specific environments. The most effective training initiatives are a melting pot of methods and involve department and team involvement.

What training is right for my team?

The first step in deciding the right training for your practice is to establish or revisit your practice goals collectively with the team. Your goals will bring you to your practice vision for success. If training does not directly align with your goals, it is a wasted effort. Focus on your goals to realize your full potential.

The second consideration is discovering the skills gap within your current team. This could involve a legal requirement or compliance. Alternatively, you may opt to survey your team members on what they feel to be their weakest area. Consider asking for feedback about your leadership style and abilities to consider in training efforts. Look at your metrics to determine the hidden weak points that are stalling your success.

Some of the top statistics to consider are listed below:

  • The number of incoming new callers to the practice over the number of patients scheduled
    Hint: This would translate to a need for telephone skills training.
  • The percentage of treatment plans presented over what is accepted
    Hint: You may find you would like practice on presenting treatment, or you may have a team member who feels uncomfortable asking for help in this area.
  • The percentage of patients due to their hygiene recall
    Hint: This could mean your front desk team may need training on awareness, software know-how, or increased organization for their position.
  • Team attrition higher than 10%
    Hint: You may need assistance in the practice culture realm to unify your entire team.

The list can go on, but be sure that you have clear "proof" or analysis of why you are selecting the training path for your team.

If you close your eyes and think of a particular area or process that brings you stress, there is your focus. You can increase team buy-in by reminding everyone that this particular "thing" can get better once you seek help. Creating that unification will bring the team closer together.

Remember, employees' commitment to their learning path and application of these concepts and processes is immeasurable in impact.

Creating a culture of learning and an empowered team will reduce your stress, increase the longevity of your team, and ultimately increase your patients' experiences in the practice.

Dana Salisbury, MBA, SHRM-CP, is the director of learning systems and practice development with Productive Dentist Academy. She specializes in employee acquisition and development, change management, creating awareness surrounding human resource compliance, and the implementation of strategic business processes. You can contact her at [email protected].

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

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