PROACTIVE PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
know I should have an employee manual for my office, but I haven’t the
foggiest idea where to start. Should I buy one already written? Is that
enough, or should I modify it for my office? Will it solve all of my
Management in dental offices requires specific elements to be effective
not the least of which is a manual that clearly spells out the general
policies, terms of employment, and compensation & benefits of your
office. Included with the manual are forms, worksheets, and employee
records for proper information safekeeping. It is not just another
“system”, or important legal document.
the manual works for the practice not against it.
this tool and its components, the office policies are ambiguous, and
employees are left to guess how they’re supposed to behave in certain
situations. Even with this
in mind, a manual must not rest alone.
I will attempt to do in this article is explain essential background
information on human resources that must co-exist with a written
guidebook on personnel policies. I’ll finish by providing guidance on
how to construct and effectively integrate an employee manual into the
is, in my experience ALL dental offices need an employee manual but only
a few have a current working guidebook.
where does one start?
suggestion is to obtain an employee manual already prepared for dental
offices. There are several on the market that are worthwhile and can be
purchased at a fair fee. As a service to each of my consulting clients,
I have developed a personnel manual that fits specifically into the
dental environment. The manual I have constructed has the capability to
be fine-tuned, or individualized for each dental office, due to the
unique qualities found in each practice. However, prior to delivering
the manual for editing and final production, the dentist and I spend
considerable time building an environment that supports fair employment
practices. Let’s dive into some of those concepts so that you will
have an idea regarding what manual will be a perfect fit for your
cornerstone in business management is providing employees with the
reason why things are done a certain way. Acquiring principles that will
keep your business running effectively while handling any personnel
issues is in line with this concept. Make sure you’ve spent time
thinking about how your business will be run, and how decisions will be
made. For example, if one declares, “We will always respect other
people’s time in our office”, then one tends to focus on staying on
time during the course of the day. And, appointments that are scheduled
are not moved for the convenience of the office.
terms of personnel management, consider establishing principles that
will help make decisions easier to come by. For instance, “We will
strive to be fair to the employee in all aspects of human resources”
would be a sensible tenet to adopt. In this way, when a situation
arises, fairness would be the prevailing principle ensuring a reasonable
consideration may be to incorporate the “Reasonable Man Theory”; an
ancient English common law which states, “In any circumstance, a
person is expected to know what is real and/or reasonable and do what is
dealing with personnel management issues, one must ask, “From who’s
perspective is it reasonable?” In today’s day and age, the
employee’s perspective of reasonable is used. In that case, examine
each situation through the eyes of the employee. What one risks is the
inherent loss to business through decreased productivity from people who
are not treated reasonably and prudently in the work place.
order to keep morale high, remove hurdles to productivity. Here are some
suggestions that can help promote good management of people.
effective employer shows he/she cares with fair employment policies and
parameters for continued employment. Use the above suggestions to add
value to any personnel guidebook or manual that is used in the office.
important aspect in personnel management, in particular our state of
Arizona, is the clear establishment of employment “at will”.
simple, this is employment that lasts as long as both parties will it to
last. If one party elects to discontinue the arrangement, then the
arrangement is discontinued. Put another way, if the person is employed,
the employment lasts as long as both parties agree equally.
these common errors and maintain employment “at will”. Don’t
promise permanent employment; again, employment lasts as long as both
parties agree equally. Next, make “at-will” employment very clear by
placing it in the personnel manual and on job applications. Also, avoid
any “Termination for Cause” statements in the manual or employment
documentation, as this will negate the “at-will” status of
employment in the office. Finally, don’t neglect to obtain a signed
acknowledgement of receipt of the manual!
Time has tested the theory that a fantastic team is built around reliable personnel management systems. Hiring protocols are followed so that people with the right skills and temperament are screened and hired properly. They are employed because they know they can perform the duties described in the job description, and references have provided positive reinforcement of their good work history. From their first day on the job, they know what to expect because they’ve read a manual describing how things work in the office and what is expected of them in return. During their time of service, they know how well they’re performing because a formal review process evaluates their work productivity against the employer’s expectations. Consequently, employees are accountable for the results of their actions – good or bad.
the final analysis, all involved work in a dental practice should
provide for a profitable and gratifying experience. A personnel
manual that is customized to fit the particular aspects of your practice
is a must, however it should be utilized so that it maximizes employee
performance. I'll state the obvious in that just purchasing a
manual will not solve personnel issues. Incorporating the manual
with good employment policies, intact procedures, sound philosophies,
and following through on what is found within the manual will result in
excellent human resources.