7 Keys to Building a Perfect Team
By Noel Lloyd, DC
Wow, a perfect team? That's a lot of pressure. But let's jump in, break it down and see what we can do.
First, who's the perfect team member? In my view, the perfect team member shows up early with a great attitude, anticipates the needs of their doctors and patients, and consistently does great work. What more could you ask for?
Second, what's a perfect team? Doesn't it stand to reason that it's a group of perfect team members functioning in harmony? Sure it does, but what would that look like? For me, it's simple: My clinics are producing high-volume weeks consistently without a hitch; and happy patients are getting great chiropractic care, and are served by DCs and CAs who are grateful to be a part of the perfect team. Oh, and don't forget, there's a large profit margin.
But with all that said, can we, in this life, ever get a perfect team? I say yes, but it might be different than you think.
I have to start with a confession: I'm not perfect; in fact, far from it. Please don't tell my wife. Additionally, I've never met a person or team member who did their job perfectly.
However, working together with my perfect teams, I built 10 high-volume practices, had a ton of fun and made gobs of money in the process. In fact, my perfect teams (made up of imperfect people) were such a delight, I loved coming to work. Granted, some days were more work than others, but I can remember more days when I was hard pressed to think of anything I'd rather be doing or any place I'd rather be.
But it wasn't always that way for me. I struggled like everyone else and wondered some days if it were worth it. Then a career ending injury and pure necessity put me on a path to discover a process and system that helped me build many perfect teams and high-profit offices that delivered great care. Here's how you can do it, too.
1. Template, Train and Crosstrain Every Position
DCs and all types of CAs perform better when they know their purpose, the tasks of their positions and what other team members' jobs are. This requires work and consistency, but some management consultant has already put the job descriptions and checklists in a manual you can copy and modify to suit your needs. The trick is to actually do it.
Hot Tip: Role-playing increases certainty and puts your practice on procedure rails. Templated patient procedures make the day-to-day work easier and hold the team to the perfect standard.
2. Give Feedback
Start with appreciation for good work and a positive attitude. Express gratitude for consistency and give correction when needed. If all you give is praise, that's manipulation and reveals a weakness and fear of confrontation.
Hot Tip: Teach the team to give and receive praise from each other at the morning huddle and office meeting.
3. Pay Well
You can't bribe the poor performer to do better work, but you can (and should) reward the hard-working, talented people with more money. An extra $2 an hour is only $350 a month. The cost of constantly replacing and retraining is many times that – each month.
Hot Tip: I give a small raise at 90 days if someone masters their job, and I make the second raise at 12 months bigger than they were likely expecting.
4. Get Rid of the Troublemakers
Want to keep good team members? Then fire people who are moody, pouty, grumpy, grouchy and just plain no fun to work with. A bad apple will spoil the whole box, and the team will respect and thank you for letting a troublemaker go. The mood will instantly improve and you'll never miss them. By the way, no one's ever fired anyone too early.
Hot Tip: Teams that train regularly find it easy to integrate new hires.
5. Hold Regular Office Meetings Where You Listen
The more you talk in your own office meeting, the worse it is. The more the perfect team shares, reports, asks questions and commends the other team members, the better the meeting.
Hot Tip: At your next office meeting, instruct each position to share a practice win, report on their work and compliment another team member. Everyone shares, but you're only allowed to answer questions at the end.
6. Play by Your Own Rules, But Don't Play Favorites
Perfect teams thrive when the doctor plays fair, holding accountable to the same rules they expect others to follow.
Hot Tip: Report to your front-desk CA as if they're your boss. I did that and it works like magic to build a better team.
7. Give Scorecards
Teach team members to keep their own position statistics. Most staff can't play the game because they don't know what their score is. Of course, the score is different for a front-desk CA versus an associate DC, but everyone needs to know the score in order to win.
Hot Tip: Collect stats at least every week. Praise the wins and help the struggling. You'll trade a vague suspicious feeling that hurts a team for a real understanding of your team's strengths and weaknesses. If a team member isn't interested in helping with their stats, see suggestion #4 regarding troublemakers.
When the team is functioning at its best, work is not only enjoyable – it's perfect. Don't get me wrong, it's work; but it's fun. You work your tail off on the ski slopes, basketball court or in the yard, but it's fun, right? This is the same thing. Follow these seven keys and the perfect team will appear, right before your eyes.
Snapshot of Your Perfect Practice
The office is filled with patients, the phone's ringing, the CAs are busy and smiling, the tables are full, but the flow is steady. The associates are taking great care of their patients and yours, exactly the way you've trained them to.
You can hear a new patient being booked by the CA exactly to your scripts and see an associate bringing a patient to the front desk to book their ROF.
You look at the clock and you've finished your day right on schedule – your front-desk CA sees to that. You'll be out on vacation for the next two weeks and you know your perfect team will handle everything, just the way you've trained them to do. And then it hits you. This really is perfect.
Your perfect team tells you to relax and have a great holiday; they'll handle everything. "Just don't get sunburned." As you drive away, you know they'll hardly miss you and you feel a twinge of emotion. I'm going to miss this and will love coming back refreshed. Perfect.
Dr. Noel Lloyd graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1971 and became the youngest practicing chiropractor in Washington. He is the founder and head coach of Five Star Management, a professional training, coaching and consulting service based in Seattle, Wash.