Recently one of our blogs stirred up much conversation, including a discussion of the necessity to cross-train all team members. While just about everyone agreed that was a good idea, a few people felt it could be detrimental to optimum performance.
Our good friend Bill Stainton is a business performance expert and one of the world’s great authorities on The Beatles. (His blogs, articles and presentations typically use a Beatles tie-in to get their points across. Maybe that is why we like him so much!) Anyway, in a recent blog entitled “Are You Playing To Your Strengths?,” Bill writes…
Why do we spend so much time focusing on the things we don’t do well? Honestly, we beat ourselves up all the time. It seems that no matter how many things we’re good at, we choose to dwell on the weaknesses:
Alan (despondently): I just can’t hang pictures. Look at these. They’re all crooked. I’m going to kill myself.
Kari: Are you crazy? You’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, cured swine flu, and you’re currently starring in the number one movie in the world!
Alan (still despondent): Yeah…but look at the pictures. I’m such a loser.
Maybe he should have quoted The Beatles directly by saying “I’m A Loser,” but in any case Bill continues:
Within the Beatles, George Harrison was the lead guitarist. That’s what he did best. The Beatles didn’t waste a lot of time working with George on his weak drumming skills. Why? Because Ringo was already handling that job brilliantly. Drumming was what he did best. Each of the four Beatles “played to their strengths,” every day.
When you put together a great team, and then let each team member focus on what they do best, great things can happen. Sadly, though, many organizations (possibly run by people like Alan) don’t seem to get this concept. If the Beatles were a modern company, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine this performance review:
Reviewer: Ringo, looking over your work for the past year, I see your drumming skills are quite good. However, under “Areas for Improvement,” your lead guitar work just isn’t where we’d like it to be.
Ringo: Well, that’s because I’m a drummer, not a lead guitarist.
Reviewer: We think that’s a narrow way of looking at things. Here at Beatles, Inc., we feel all our employees should be well-rounded musicians. So for the next 90 days, I’d like you to spend less time drumming and instead really work on those lead guitar skills, okay?
Ringo: I’m not sure that makes sense.
Reviewer: Ringo, you just have to trust us on this. After all, we’re management.
So while The Beatles could have “cross-trained” Ringo on lead guitar, that obviously made no sense. Granted, your dental office is not The Beatles, but the lesson can still be applied. Everyone has their skill set, and playing to the strength of it makes for a better team. Maybe Martha is a bit disorganized but has fantastic people skills. So it may not be a big deal if she can’t track supplies because she is great at making patients feel welcome in the office and charming them on the phone.
And how about Pam? She may be extremely nervous presenting a treatment plan but is such a great periodontal therapist that her patients are referring all of their friends. Same with Julia, Michelle and even Dr. Robert. As long as everyone is a dedicated, enthusiastic, responsible professional, they will serve the team well even though they may not be great at everything. Some of the most successful offices we have seen joke that they “only let Doc take care of the teeth – we do everything else!” And in some offices that may be totally appropriate.
So look at your own team. Spend a few minutes and take a little “strengths inventory.” Is Tom a great “detail person,” while Catherine is an outstanding long-range planner? Does Randy have a creative mind that comes up with one idea after another, while Jennifer is particularly skilled at implementation? No, Randy is an apathetic slacker and you should have fired him months ago. But you get the point. Stop focusing so much on your weaknesses, and the weaknesses of your team. Instead, find ways to let your team members “play to their strengths” every day.
So what now? Should every team member be cross-trained? Bill makes a pretty convincing argument that a better performing team should be based on individual talents like The Beatles. But let’s face it – even though you wouldn’t want to hear Ringo on bass, there were certain fundamentals that they all had to have. Surely they needed to show up for band practice on time and give it their all in the studio and on stage. And even though they all had their musical specialties, every member had to sing in key and keep time well.
Same thing in a dental office. Everyone should do what they do best, but every single team member needs certain fundamental skills or the office just won’t tick. Things like arriving for work at the right time and having a good attitude are a given. And so is a basic understanding of telephone skills. If your office has a telephone superstar – that is fantastic, and she or he are a huge asset. Do everything you can, including the triage of non-essential calls, to make sure that superstar handles just about every single patient call.
But with a new patient’s value hovering around $10,000, it is inexcusable to have even one potential new patient lost due to poor telephone skills. EVERY SINGLE TEAM MEMBER NEEDS TO KNOW THE TELEPHONE BASICS!! If your team needs more training there, we are here to help! As a matter of fact, the entire team can be trained to never lose a new patient again due to lack of phone skills in two hours!! To find out how, please click here.
And if you want to read more about our friend Bill Stainton, check out www.ovationconsulting.com
Remember – never lose another new patient by training the entire team in two hours by clicking here!