Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!
By Kim Klapp
The most successful people surround
themselves with incredible teams. Yet so many chiropractors have a distorted
attitude about their staffs. Some doctors hold onto ineffective team members
because they shudder at the thought of hiring and training someone new. Others
are virtually held hostage by their staff, as they don’t know anything about how
to run their own office. Still others have the revolving door staff turnover
So, begin by retooling your attitude about your team. Value
and esteem your team members for the right reasons: Not out of fear, but out of
mutual respect about the incredible difference that they make in your practice.
Your team affects everything from the office environment and energy to
retention, referrals and collections. They can be your greatest asset or
subconsciously sabotage your success. In order for them to become the former,
it’s critical that you develop a R.I.C.H. foundation for your relationship.
R.I.C.H. is an acronym for Respect, Integrity, Caring and Honesty. These
fundamental components are an integral start to any long-term
mutually-beneficial relationship. By focusing on a R.I.C.H. foundation, you
prevent any potential power trippers, prima donnas or information hoarders from
getting a foothold in sabotaging your success.
Communicating with Your Team
Once you have built that R.I.C.H. foundation, begin to
cultivate it with communication. Communication is the only way to keep a team
running smoothly. One of the most important tools to implement in every practice
is a communication log. It will help to keep all team members on the same page.
All too often one team member is not privy to an announcement or notice of a
special circumstance. By creating a communication log, no one misses out on
important information. Just get a three-ring binder and some loose leaf paper.
Encourage any team member to make a dated and titled entry. Then, once each
shift, each team member should read all entries and initial them. The
communication log keeps everyone apprised of what’s happening, what’s changed,
what’s being tried, any special exception that’s been made, etc. This tool
prevents miscommunication, dropped balls, chaos and wasted time and
In addition to the communication log, having two types of team
meetings—daily and weekly—helps your office run smoothly. Have daily team
meetings to set the tone for the day. At these daily team meetings, read the
office and CA mission statements to help everyone refocus on their purpose.
Check the schedule for the day in order to prepare and frame time management.
Then, set goals and visualize those goals being met. Communicate the topic of
the day to discuss with patients. Read the daily affirmations of your team. Make
sure to express an attitude of gratitude for your team, and end with an
inspirational quote, prayer or cheer. These daily team meetings take less than
five minutes, but make such a difference on the intention, motivation and
attitude of each member. They allow everyone to reconnect to their purpose and
It’s best to alternate your weekly meetings between entire
team meetings and position-specific meetings, if possible. For example, one week
the whole team meets; the next week, the CA’s meet separately from the DC’s. The
position-specific meetings offer a great format for re-training and honing
skills. They allow team members to role play and work out any new systems. The
complete team meetings should buoy everyone’s attitude, so be sure to keep them
Since whatever you focus on expands, always focus on the
positive trends and experiences. Tackle challenges as necessary, but focus on
finding solutions and being growth-oriented. Take time for each member to share
something positive about a co-worker, a patient, or the practice. If you report
statistics at these meetings, assign each team member an area to track and
comment on. Empowering each member to be in charge will facilitate more
suggestions on improvement. Additionally, revisit practice, professional and
personal goals. Help everyone to realize that focusing on the practice goals
will enable many personal goals to come to fruition as well.
Reward and Review Team Members
To take the office to
the next level, set up rewards for those team members who make it possible.
Figure out how to create more win-win scenarios. Beyond hourly compensation,
design other incentive programs to reinforce the behaviors you want repeated.
Utilize a CA appreciation survey in order to individualize rewards. Have each
new team member complete a survey on their first day of employment. This
strategy sends a powerful message that you truly care about what they like and
that you plan to demonstrate your attitude of gratitude. Not only will it help
you to express appreciation for going that extra mile, but it also encourages
CA’s to continue to find new ways to shine and repeatedly exceed expectations.
It’s also important to keep on schedule for employee reviews. Make sure
to give new team members a copy of your office evaluation form so that they know
in advance the bases of review. Allow each staff member to conduct a
self-evaluation and compare it to that of management. In addition, give all team
members an opportunity to confidentially complete a form to share their opinions
of their teammate’s greatest strengths and challenges when it’s review time.
Maybe your office has been searching for a great CA to communicate with
and reward. First of all, next time avoid a short-handed situation. If you lose
a CA and become short-staffed, not only does the workload increase for the
remaining team members, but it’s exacerbated by attempting to fit training time
in, too. Most doctors have insurance for their offices, their homes, their
health, why not your team? If possible, employ one additional CA—just in case.
When someone takes vacation time or has a family emergency in another state,
your patients don’t suffer. Plus, all those tasks like internal marketing,
reactivation calls and insurance follow-up collection calls always get
The next time you’re
hiring, keep expectation management in mind. Expectation management is key in
any successful relationship. It’s simply letting someone know up front what to
expect, then delivering. Expectation management leads to job satisfaction for
team members. The best results are cultivated from under-promising and
over-delivering. Get clear on the position duties ahead of time. Give
prospective employees a full description of duties to avoid the perception that
you’re adding on jobs later. Formulate a personnel policy so that team members
understand what is expected of them. Policies lay a strong foundation for the
practice provided that they correspond to and support the office mission and
goals. Furthermore, policies need to include both positive and negative
consequences for compliance.
Staff Training Strategies
Once you’ve found the right team member, avoid putting
her/him in either overwhelm or boredom mode by having an effective training
system. Why reinvent the wheel? Unless you’re retiring soon, chances are that
through growth or replacement, you’ll be in this situation again. Create scripts
for everything that your team members do so that each new CA can communicate
with your patients in the best possible way. Don’t stop once the scripts are
written. That’s just the beginning. At that point, it’s time to role play, role
play, role play. It’s better to make the mistakes on each other rather than on
patients. Also, it’s important to continue to role play until the script is
perfect. A performer would not practice until a song was mostly right, only to
wing it on stage. Nor should chiropractic team members stop practicing short of
100 percent satisfaction.
Staff training should be organized in a very
methodical way. A great tool to help keep on track is a training timeline. A
training timeline provides structure for the team member responsible for
conducting the training. It illustrates day by day what should be covered, so
that nothing is inadvertently skipped. It goes beyond making sure that the new
team member fills out all the proper forms and policies and becomes a new
patient on day one. It also ensures that the training keeps on schedule so that
it doesn’t just fall by the wayside when a new CA is only partially trained. The
training schedule lets the new team member know that they need to help set the
Another tool is to utilize an Office Systems Reference Guide which
includes—in excruciating detail—how to do just about everything in the office.
Note that it’s not just a “training” guide. It really should be treated as a
reference guide to encourage veteran team members to consult it whenever
necessary, akin to double checking how to spell a word in the dictionary. When
it’s training time, merely give new team members the appropriate sections of the
Office Systems Reference Guide according to the training timeline.
another component of an effective training system is to utilize a training
checklist. The checklist should track the date that each duty was first
demonstrated, when it could be accomplished with supervision, when it could be
accomplished independently, and when the new team member was deemed proficient.
It’s important to use expectation management here, too. Let new CA’s know
exactly what to expect with training in each area.
One final strategy
with training systems that really decreases stress and saves time in the future
is to video-record training. No need to hire a production crew; just set up a
camera on a tripod and record the training. The next time a new team member is
hired, they can get a great head start on training without taking up any staff
Emphasize the role of a CA as being whole by encouraging
proficiency in all areas, instead of maintaining different types of CA’s with
different specialties. Consider rotating duties twice daily in order to foster
variety, challenge, seamless transitions when a team member is off, dedication
to better communication and a myriad of fresh perspectives. Cross-training is
the best way to achieve a well-rounded team that appreciates the role of each
Finally, incorporate teambuilding strategies whenever possible.
If there have been issues in the past, clear the air. Go out to lunch. Go to a
comedy club. Start fresh. Learn how to problem-solve together by working on
brainteasers or playing games. Consider taking a ropes course challenge
together. Remember that it’s worth the effort. As Michael Jordan put it, “It
takes team work to make a dream work.” A dynamic team can help yours come true.
Rewarding Your Staff
There are so many types of
rewards to enliven your team. Here are just a few examples in addition to pats
on the back, compliments and thank you notes:
Give each new CA a free
cervical support upon becoming proficient in the job duties. This is obviously
a win-win as it helps with product sales when someone can give patients their
Free Lunch Mondays
anytime your team reaches the new patient goal the preceding week. Of course
processing more new patients is extra up-front work for your team. Let them
know how much you appreciate their efforts and impeccable first
with a sign at the front desk, flowers or a gift basket and a gift
certificate. Not only does this reward loyalty and dependability, but it
encourages new team members to stay on board to experience the same
Pass around an office
Atlas Award—for performance at the top! This award helps to highlight specific
behaviors that are extraordinary and worth repeating.
Encourage your team to
seize any opportunity to shine again and again.
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