Does the thought of losing one key team member put you into a spin?

The state of dental staffing has not improved at all and has in fact gotten worse. Every office is so desperate for experienced dental staff that most offices are offering signing bonuses and hourly rates far beyond what could have been imagined even six months ago. If your office is dependent on one or two key team members and the thought of you losing them is putting you into a tailspin, then your office is likely people dependent and not system dependent.

A people dependent office has those one or two people who are the go-to when there is a question, these team members know how to do everything, and the office might “crumble” without them. If you get worried that they may be looking elsewhere you will likely provide them with a pay raise without them even asking. Unfortunately, throwing money at this problem isn’t the answer. The answer is going to the trouble of documenting the procedures at every level in the office, so that if there is a change of team members then next team member can takeover seamlessly. These detailed documents would make your office a system driven office.

Think of the high team turnover at most Starbucks, even though it maybe somebody’s first day serving you, your drink will be the same as the day before even though you have customized it. This occurs because every system and every drink combination have a system attached to it. Having a systems driven workplace creates less stress, is more efficient, increases productivity and will decrease your expenses.

Without systems, every day you are trying to figure everything out and if it is a task that is completed infrequently then it could take double the time needed to complete the task. If you find the perfect new team member, who knows how to do everything and will clean up the “mess” you have in the office from a lack of documented systems then they will likely burn out very quickly and will leave you with larger problems.

If you find you are often frustrated with team members, you may find yourself feeling mad, when really it is the lack of systems that is causing the friction. Documenting systems is time consuming yet having systems will create clarity in your office and clarity will bring the consistency that you crave in your office.

You may think that documenting every system in your office is a waste of time because team members will never read the documentation. The documentation will help you keep your team accountable moving forward, it there is any straying from any protocol in the office then you will be able to refer back to the documentation and not a particular team member who “knows it all.”

Your next question is likely, where do I start? There are two ways that you can approach this. Firstly, you can take one or two dedicated hours every week for a month and have your current team document the systems. You are probably thinking, why would I take away two hours of production time to write up a systems document? If you can decrease the stress, increase the efficiency and consistency in the office then isn’t it worth it? Secondly, you could have a coach come in and help direct you and your team to create and follow the documentation. A coach would also provide you and your team with accountability for this project. Coaches don’t necessarily turn your office upside down; they will help you find clarity in your every day.

Whatever you decide your solution is, do a self-evaluation of your office and determine if you are people dependent or systems dependent. If you decide you are people dependent in the current job market, you should probably make the decision quite quickly to become systems driven.

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