Having to do everything themselves to ensure things are done consistently well is one of the biggest struggles dentists face when growing their practices.
Identifying the right people with the right skills is only half the challenge, however. You still need to make sure they have everything they need to perform how you want and need them to perform from the start.
Effectively training your dental office employees is your key to consistent performance.
That means training them to do things how you want them done and documenting everything you need them to do so they can reference written instructions whenever they have questions. This will get your team trained as quickly as possible and make sure they know exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.
The secret to training dental office employees is to ensure they know exactly what's expected of them and clear instructions at their fingertips if they have questions when nobody's around.
The best way to do that is by creating position-specific employee manuals that walk each team member through your practice and what’s expected of them. Once you’ve created these manuals, go through them with relevant candidates during the hiring process to make sure potential team members know what’s expected of them. Read through it with them and have their supervisor walk them through the tasks described there, so they have done all major tasks described in their manual under supervision before they need to do them on their own.
By creating position-specific manuals and utilizing them as part of the recruitment process, you can more confidently delegate things to team members from the start.
Here’s what to include in a dental employee training manual.
Effective position-focused manuals are comprehensive. Here are examples of information included in my practice’s Dental Assistant Training Manual that you can use for yours:
- Your practice’s vision, mission statement, and core values. These help new hires understand what your practice is all about, what makes it unique, and the type of team they’re joining. By including these in your employee manuals and reviewing it with potential new hires during the recruitment process, you’re emphasizing that these are important parts of your practice.
- A detailed job description. An effective job description lets them know the purpose of their position; their daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities; and important competencies they need to develop.
- Relevant scripts. If the employee is expected to communicate on behalf of your practice, include scripts they can use for common email or phone conversations. This can be as simple as how you want them to answer the phone or as specific as how to respond to an email inquiry asking about prices for services.
- A sample evaluation form. Include a sample performance evaluation review form so they know how they will be evaluated.
- Hours expectations. Include the days and times they’re expected to work.
- Onboarding activities. Let them know what happens in training and during orientation, as well as what information and documents you will need form them to get them into your payroll system.
- Training schedules. Include a detailed training schedule for their position, so they can prepare and understand what they will need to do during training.
- Computer or Internet access information. Help them find any computer or Internet sites they will need. For example, in my practice, we expect employees to be familiar with certain video and webinar training. Some of them are on a YouTube channel with videos we want them to watch. Others are located within our subscription to Dentrix dental software. We include links to all videos or webinars we expect them to watch.
- Images of things you want done a certain way. If you expect your team member to do something a certain way, include images to let them know what an acceptable work product looks like. For example, with our dental assistants, we include images of packs we want them to set up so they get a visual depiction and can see what we want done, not just read a list of what we want in the packs. We also include pictures and checklists for each procedure they will assist us with.
- Checklists. If a team member is expected to go through a list of steps on a regular basis, include a checklist. For example, with our dental assistant manuals, we include a new patient checklist, so they can know exactly what to do every time a new patient joins us.
- General office practices. Finally, include instructions for general office practices that anyone might do. For example, this might include answering phones, making copies, or sending faxes.
With detailed information regarding what your practice is about, how their position fits in, what’s expected of them, and how they will be evaluated, your team members will be positioned to consistently perform right from the start of their employment. This is the key to setting your employees up to succeed and getting every team member working together to achieve your practice’s vision.
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