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MECA Consulting Blog

Invest in Your Staff

Monday, December 14, 2015

How efficient and effective our practice is at serving our consumers and being profitable is largely a reflection of our staff.  Think about this: the average consumer visit spends over 60% of their time with the staff, not the doctor.  Who we are has a direct relationship to who they are.  In order to have a great staff, get more efficient, increase profitability, reduce turnover, and generally have a better quality of “business life” we need to hire great staff and train them.  This philosophy that our staff is our greatest asset can be difficult for some and easy to adopt for others.  The big question I always hear from the stage is less about the why and more about the how do I train them, what do I train them on, and when.  Let me help!!

Let’s start with the when.  If we truly believe are staff is an asset, than we should train, teach, and guide them every time we have an opportunity.  After all, the more they know, the more they can help us serve our consumers and build our business.   I believe that staff training is in some way a daily exercise in our management plan.  It takes less than 5 minutes a day, done consistently, to train a great staff.  Sure, having a bigger staff “meeting” once a week or once a month to discuss big concepts is essential too, but I am talking about the little things that we can teach on a daily basis.  Everyone learns in small chunks with lots of repetition.  Yes, it does take time and it is an investment, one of the most important investments that you can make in your office!

What do we train about?   There is an endless list of topics to train our staff on.  Maybe it is to identify, document, and enhance the workflow processes of everything in our office.  It could and should be to identify, refine, and practice the scripts that each and every person says in the office.   Making sure that everyone is on the same page is essential to efficiency and great customer service.  We can role play scenarios, learn about listening and communication skills.  We can work on customer service topics.  But one of the keys is to not always do it ourselves.  Have our staff develop the agenda for a staff meeting.  Pick one of the hundreds of disease states or vision care products and have an in-service or a discussion about how they are used.  We could have our team refine our mission statements or review our practice goals.  I have listed 52 of my favorite ideas but we could list hundreds of ideas.  The key is to schedule time and start somewhere. 

Undoubtedly, the challenging part is the how.  How do we actually “do” staff training?  Well, the good and the bad answer is that there are just about as many ways to train as there are things to train on.  Mix it up.  Have your team present at least once weekly.  Bring in guest speakers.  Talk about an article we or a staff member read in a journal or in the MECA blog.  The key is to keep the meeting short and on point with the major topic we want to discuss.  Take notes.  If it is worth talking about it is worth writing down and tracking.  I personally am a big fan of the five minute meeting.   Yes, we have a formal training meeting that last 30-45 minutes once a week but I have always found that the informal “5 minute meeting” has been the most instrumental in training my staff.   When there is a break (someone no-shows or is running late or even right before clinic starts) circle everyone up and talk about something.  I always keep a running list of things that we could talk about on an index card so I have back up ideas.  Since most practices that I helped struggled with similar challenges I decide to turn all of these ideas into something that everyone could use so I developed the “5 Minute Meeting” video podcast series.  With over 70 topics produced in 5 or 10 part series and more being developed weekly, I want to help train you and your staff for the next few years.  Each of these podcast series were developed to give you great ideas and start the conversation and the transformation of your team and you practice.  All you need to do is set aside 5 minutes a day or 25 minutes a week, push PLAY and sit back and learn.  Now, it is up to you.   What are you waiting for?

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