“Raising” Expectations of your Team

The cost of living from December 2010 to December 2011 was 3% as defined by Table 1 of the Consumers Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U): US city average, by expenditure category and commodity and service group.  I suggest that when you look at raising your team member’s pay, you do so with more of a focus towards “merit” raises.  Rewarding your employees that have performed well or exceeded your expectations makes good business sense, but make sure you communicate this to your employees as well.  The best way to do this is in person, but I would suggest that you also send them a note – here is an example:

Dear Valerie:

This notice serves to advise you of an increase in your wage that is equal to 5% of your current hourly rate.  The effective date of this increase is March 1, 2012 and the increase in pay will appear in the payroll check you receive on March 9, 2012.

We are pleased to award this increase based upon your performance over the last review period and believe it will serve as an incentive for you to continue to strive to meet our business goals and objectives in the future.

As the leader of your business, be sure to continually communicate the mission and objectives of your practice to your employees so they know what is expected of them.  Dealing with poor performance can be time consuming, but don’t let it go unchecked or it will send a clear message to the rest of your team that you don’t care, which can be an infectious attitude.  Poor performance usually only gets worse over a period of time and rarely corrects itself without some form of intervention.  So, as soon as it is noted, take the necessary time to address the matter, note it in your personnel files, and then reinforce this during the review with your employee.  At the time you give raises, you should address the change in compensation with those for whom you are giving a lower or no raise as well.  In additional to speaking with them in person, you should also include a notice – here is an example:

Dear Gertrude:

This notice serves to advise you of an increase in your wage that is equal to 2% of your current hourly rate.  The effective date of this increase is March 1, 2012 and the increase in pay will appear in the payroll check you receive on March 9, 2012.

This increase is reflective of your performance over the last review period.  We will review this and the goals set for you again in six months.

Among a medical or dental practice’s most valuable assets are its employees.  Most desire to meet or exceed your expectations.  So, as their employer, be sure to communicate, train, develop and treat your employees in a manner that wins confidence and raises expectations and your practice will run smoothly.

Number One Customer – Your Employee

Physicians and Dentists who manage their own office face a variety of compliance issues these days that place time demands on them and their office managers.  And, with all the work and oversight that comes with billing matters, e-prescribing, electronic medical records, applying for and attesting to “Meaningful Use”, and managing the daily activities of the office, doctors and managers may fall prey to putting-off various aspects of Human Resource Management.

Remember, your employees are a key component to running an efficient and compliant professional business.  They really are your first and most important customer.  When HR troubles arise, doctors find themselves facing staff turnover, misuse of overtime, employee absences, “rotten apple” attitudes, un-met productivity goals, and host of other people problems that can have a major impact on the profitability of the Practice.

Might it be time for a review or analysis of one or more of the following?

  • Do all your employees have a job description? Have you reviewed it with them lately?
  • When was the last time you looked over your Personnel Policy Manual?  It may be time to have this reviewed with an HR professional.
  • Are your employee’s wages and benefits up to par with what is being offered locally?
  • Have you done your performance evaluations with your employees within the last twelve months?
  • Should your employee benefit plans be analyzed for cost savings?
  • Do you maintain a Procedure Manual that will help answer questions for the new employee, or even the seasoned veteran, on how you  would like to see a task or situation handled?

If you find yourself admitting to a lack of follow-up in these areas, or wondering if you are up-to-date on the latest policies, then be sure to give us a call to set-up a HR Check-up.

Both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Department of Labor (DOL) also require that you maintain specific records regarding your staff.  Having an employee file with the following items would be crucial should either agency require you provide this information:

  1. Employee’s demographic information including full name, social security number, address, date of birth, sex and occupation.
  2. Copies of employee’s W-4, I-9, and State New Hire Forms
  3. Amounts and dates of all wage payments.  This would also include the fair market value of “in-kind” wages paid.
  4. Start and end dates of employment.
  5. The time and day of the week that an employee’s workweek begins.
  6. Hours worked each day and the total hours worked each workweek and pay period.
  7. The basis on which your employee’s wages are paid and their regular hourly pay rate.
  8. Your records should indicate employee’s regular straight-time earnings, total overtime earnings for a workweek, total earnings for a pay period, and any additions or deductions from from their earnings.
  9. The date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.
  10. Periods for which employees received pay for days absent due to sickness or injury and the amount and weekly rate of payments you or third-party payers made to them.

Additionally, your business should have available the following corporate information:

  • Your employer identification number
  • Copies of payroll tax returns filed
  • Dates and amounts of tax deposits and benefit payments made (such as 401(k) deferral payments)
  • Records of fringe benefits provided to your employees, including substantiation.

Hopefully, this information has just been a good reminder of things you are already doing.  If not, don’t neglect your number one customer any longer.

Start your day with a Practice Huddle


Whether a football player is on offense or defense, they go to the huddle at the start of each play to encourage each other and call a play that will move the team towards their goal.  Doctors can use a similar approach to reaching practice goals by utilizing a “team huddle”, a morning meeting, to start the day.  Here are some key practice management aspects to consider with your staff.

  • Review Goals – summarize your actual production, adjusted production, collections, number of patients seen, number of new patients, number of procedures performed, and expenses for the prior day, week or current month and compare these figures against your goals to alert your team of any variances.  Don’t focus on only the negatives if you find yourself behind on your goals.  Remember, this is a time for positive team encouragement and to work the office “playbook”, which should move your team towards the practice goals.  Save the longer strategy discussions and modifying the playbook for a regular staff meeting.
  • Review Yesterday – analyze the prior day’s activities so that you follow-up on items that may have been missed or for a chance to market your services in the future.  How was the new patient referred to your practice and why did they make an appointment with you?  Was a treatment plan established and was it entered into your practice management system?  Did you receive an updated e-mail address and cell phone number?   Use this summary to follow-up with your new patients the next day with a quick note or phone call thanking them for visiting your office.  Providing them with a patient opinion survey will also help your practice listen to and meet their needs; moving your practice towards becoming more than just a friend on Face book.
  • Review Today – look at today’s appointments scheduled.  Is the day full? If not, use your staff time efficiently by looking to today’s listing of patients that are inactive or overdue for care.  Work towards filling the day or a future schedule.  If someone should call today with an emergency, where should the staff put the patient? Look at today’s treatment plans and coordinate care with all providers of care to do what is best for the patient and efficiently utilize insurance benefits. Do any of today’s patients have an outstanding balance with you?  If so, be sure everyone on the team knows their role and assignments for following up.

Dental clients using our Morning Meeting Report can save an average of 12 minutes per day in gathering information for the meeting – that’s approximately a week’s worth of work over a year’s time.  Using a standardized report or a display board will keep your meetings efficient and make a positive impact on your work day. Give me a call to find out how you can begin implementing our standardized reporting process, or start one of your own.  Either way, get into the practice of holding a daily huddle with your staff and move closer to your goals. One, Two, Three – Let’s Go!