Some employees become an integral and valuable part of a dental practice and some just seem to be passing through. Have you noticed that? What do you think are the key factors that transform an employee from someone on the payroll filling a postion, to someone that you can’t imagine your practice without? Someone that adds value to your day, rather than sucks it out of you. Someone on whom you can rely, converse with, depend on and shares your practice philosophy. Someone that makes your work easier, not harder.
From my years of experience hiring and firing and solving staff issues, both as Office Manager and later as a coach working with dentists, I think I have been able to distill down the qualities that act as catalyst in that transformation from employee to indispensable employee, particularly with Certified Dental Assistants.
These qualities are identifiable and repeatable, which makes it easy for CDA’s to adopt them, and for dentists to seek them (and expect them):
1. ATTITUDE: This involves showing up at work as their ‘best self’ – coming to work with a cheerful attitude, personal baggage left at home, always willing to help, no gossiping or whining. It also means taking initiative. It’s what I call “doing what needs to be done, plus one”- doing the tasks at hand without complaint and then doing one more thing. It means being a career CDA rather than one with a job. It also means having a voice, sharing ideas and taking on new challenges. Attitude includes respect; respect for oneself and one’s chosen profession, firstly. Respect for the dentist, co-workers, and the practice’s patients is also a big part of attitude. Having a great attitude causes an employee to rise about the rest and get noticed.
2. COMMUNICATION: This means having exemplary communication skills, not just with patients, but also with co-workers and employer. It means understanding ‘context’ communication (something I teach dentists in Business Bootcamp for Dentists). That is paying attention to the context in which coversation occurs; dentist/CDA, employer/empoyee, patient/CDA) and using the correct level of respectfulness. I teach that this kind of communication is received in the part of our brain that processes emotion (not logic) and is felt (and remembered). Good communication also includes a good understanding of conflict dissolution – disolving it, as opposed to resolving it – nipping potential conflict in the bud before it starts. This is a learned skill involving 5 easy steps, which are outlined in my CD The Indispensable CDA!
3. DELIVERY OF SKILLS – Obviously this involves expertise as a clincian, and superlative technical skills, but it also includes a willingess to be a continuous learner; to always be seeking new information, continuing education, mentorship and a learningful attitude. It means always striving to be better and always striving for a paradigm of excellence. Delivery of skills is also about learning a few skills that a CDA may not have thought of, but that adds tremendous value to a dentist and a practice; gaining knowledge about the business of dentistry. When your clincial staff knows a few key things about the business operations of a dental practice, that makes a dentist’s challenges easier. That gives the dentist a more rounded, realistic and solid foundation upon which to make business decisions. When new equipment needs to be purchased or repairs need to be done, or changes need to be made regarding scheduling, patient flow or sterilization systems – anything that requires a considered business decision weighing risk/reward, a CDA knowledgable about the business of dentistry and its challenges, will help to make a business case for the decision, rather than an “I want” or “we need” without any acknowledgment of all the factors involved in the decision. In “Indispensable”, I teach CDA’s about the reason dentists often feel they just want to do dentistry, and can be reluctant managers and entrepreneurs. I also teach CDA’s to think about business results in terms of more than just profit. I drill the concept in Business Bootcamp for Dentists that business results must be measured in time, money, quality & quantity. I show CDA’s how to look at everything that goes on in a dental office and think about the business results in this way. It gives them a much broader viewpoint, which is not only a huge help to dentists, but it is considering the practice as a whole, and does not go un-noticed. In fact it is a huge factor in making a CDA indispensable!
I recently delivered a teleseminar to over 150 CDA’s in BC through the CDABC on this very topic. One of the comments afterwards says it all for me: “I just finished listening to your CD this evening! I agree with everything you say and if more dentists & staff were on board with what you are teaching, it would make everything so much easier! You stress ‘being your best self’ at work, and I like this advice alot – life is too short to waste not making it the best you can every day…. You made me feel valued as a person/employee – you have reminded me how important and valuable we are to the practice and I intend to pass this on to the new CDA grad in our office. Thank you! (Colleen Efting, Certified Dental Assistant).
The CD “Indispensable CDA” is available on this website in MP3 download format.