If you find yourself struggling with low performance in your dental office, it's time to give your staff some feedback and help point them in the right direction. Here's how you can work on giving your staff constructive, valuable, and helpful feedback that may improve your working relationship and your office overall.
The Dangers of Negative Feedback
How you deliver feedback to your employees can have a significant impact on how that feedback is received and what happens next.
Simply put, consistently negative feedback can slowly destroy your practice. Front desk staff, hygienists, dental assistants, and even associate dentists may find it difficult to work in a practice that feels toxic and eventually, they may move on to new jobs, leaving your practice somewhat of a revolving door. Your reputation among members of your community may suffer as a result of negative word of mouth, and at the end of the day, so could your bottom line.
How to Keep Feedback Constructive
There are many ways that you can try to keep feedback positive and constructive:
Skip Performance Reviews
This may sound counterintuitive to providing your staff with feedback, but Tim Twigg, president of Bent Ericksen & Associates, and Rebecca Boartfield, HR Compliance Consultant, tell Dental Economics that the annual performance review is outdated. Instead, they recommend providing both good and bad feedback more regularly and suggest that this helps to retain employees and keep them happier.
Don't Allow Frustration to Go Unaddressed
Avoid letting frustrations fester. If a staff member has made a costly mistake or is engaging in behavior that is potentially harmful to the practice, it's important that you say something sooner rather than later. If you allow your frustration with issues in the workplace to build, you'll eventually find more to be angry about and you'll begin to resent the person or persons you're upset with.
Instead, take some time to write your grievances out clearly and call a meeting between yourself, the staff member, and a third party for both their protection and yours. Let them know what you're frustrated about, but make sure to keep it respectful while sticking to the points you outlined earlier. Be constructive and offer helpful advice, listen to relevant information that you may not have been aware of, and keep an open mind for alternative solutions.
Avoid Making Personal Attacks
Brandon Smith, the Workplace Therapist, suggests that half of all performance reviews that go south do so as a direct result of how the messages were delivered. When feedback sounds more like a personal attack and less like helpful criticism, it's unlikely that anything of value will be heard. Smith recommends you avoid being vague in performance reviews (or any other time you give feedback to your staff). He also suggests you avoid making comments about someone's character and any statements that you're not able to back up with facts.
Use the Sandwich Technique for Giving Constructive Criticism
Psychology Today describes the "sandwich technique" or the "sandwich method" of giving constructive criticism as giving criticism in between two statements of praise. If, for example, you were giving criticism on how your assistant performed during a procedure, you might say "It was helpful to have you on my left side during this part of the procedure. I need more support during the last part of the procedure, and I think with some more work, we can tighten up our flow."
Starting and ending with a positive can make tough criticism easier to hear and give the employee motivation to continue improving their skills.
Provide Coaching and Continuing Education to Your Employees
Your employees want to succeed and to be seen as valuable to your practice. Give them plenty of opportunities to continue their education and expand their knowledge. If they're unfamiliar with something or lack a skill that needs to be developed, provide them coaching– either on your own or within a mentorship in which senior employees guide newer employees.
Constructive Feedback Builds a Positive Work Environment for Your Dental Practice
Feedback is critical to ensure your dental practice is functioning at an optimal level. However, feedback delivered poorly or in a negative way can backfire. Use the above ideas and get creative to help your employees boost their performance and feel valuable within your practice.
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