Staff turn-over is high in the chiropractic profession, primarily because of a lack of training. Doctors have either stopped seeking ways to increase their staff’s potential, or worse, never even think about it. American business studies reveal companies that invest in their employees are more profitable than companies that do not. In other words, building your team builds your business.
The years I’ve spent as a staff/procedural consultant have helped me identify aspects of effective staff training that are often overlooked. Here are some recommendations that will help you build – and keep – an effective support staff.
Creating the ‘Right’ Team
Whether you have one CA or a team of 20, each of your staff members should have the skills, work ethics and personality traits that you need and want to handle your business. Not everyone who applies for a position on your staff will meet these criteria. However, you should continue your search until you find the candidate who is the right fit. If you compromise your employee standards, you could be compromising your practice success.
When interviewing, all potential candidates should be told that you provide educational opportunities for their advancement. Specify all the advantages and requirements of this training, such as seminar attendance, private consultations, book/audio/video training assignments, certification programs, etc. New as well as experienced candidates should express enthusiasm about being included in all the opportunities available.
Nothing can guarantee that all your hiring decisions will be home runs. However, a management consultant can help you make an investment in staff training that is productive for both current and future employees. Specialized training provides a model for office efficiency. The right type of training will also help your employees understand their responsibilities in the patient education process. Sometimes your existing staff members realize this role is not for them.
It is when you, the doctor, are aware of where you want to go and how you are going to get there that the foundation is set. Any new employee coming in simply follows an already established protocol. Lack of this support and training can create “another day, another dollar” type of mentality. You must develop a model, or your office could lag in efficiency and purpose. You must have both efficiency and purpose to generate enthusiasm, a key element in a growth-oriented practice.
Surround yourself with employees who enjoy updating your procedural methods and are excited about the focus of the chiropractic profession. Someone who enjoys and appreciates training is one who readily applies all knowledge learned, producing results from your investment.
Putting Ideas Into Action
Some doctors have told me they send their staff to training programs and “nothing ever changes.” On the other hand, at numerous programs where I have taught basic procedure to support staff, CAs often say they wish the doctors they work for could take the class, too
My feeling is that most CAs are trainable, but they just never get to use their training. An important principle of practice management is that the doctor be aware of what the staff is taught, so the doctor can become the catalyst to turn the ideas into action. Spend time immediately after a seminar or private consultation to review what was learned, or your team members could lose the initiative to make their new knowledge work for you.
Talking during the car or plane ride home or at a staff meeting the first day back are ways to make your management training more productive. If a new procedure was introduced, or an old one refined, determine the role each staff member will play. Set up additional staff meetings to discuss the new information, and reinforce skills by listening to supportive tapes or discussing book assignments. Videos are also a great training resource. If working with a private consultant, ask for suggestions on these materials that will complement your desired outcome.
Inspire follow-through by checking on progress and acknowledging the staff’s efforts. Unless your plan of action is based on something you do not have immediately, such as therapy equipment, new office space, etc., make sure you implement new ideas immediately or set specific target dates. Encourage your team to discuss any obstacles that might hinder the desired training result. Brain-storm and come up with solutions.
Finally, motivate your employees to grow with you. While you want to be more successful, so does your staff. I’ve known many potential career CAs who were willing to work long hours, handle more responsibilities and were dedicated to their doctors. Yet they leave the profession because they feel they can’t afford to stay “where they are.”
When followed correctly, the result of staff coaching will be increased practice success. The team that helps bring you success deserves to receive appropriate increases in salary, benefits and bonuses for their improved skills and knowledge. An appreciated staff is a happy, long-staying and productive staff.