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Episode : #861: Onboarding Effectively (and Using Your Team to Do So)

Podcast Description

Tiff and Dana walk through what onboarding is, and how to utilize your team to update and carry out the methods. The consultants touch on how to prioritize the onboarding schedule, what often is missed in the onboarding process, and why it’s so critical to be systems-dependent instead of people-dependent.

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The Dental A Team (00:00.174)

Hello, Dental A Team. We are so excited to be here with you today. I have Dana with me. She is my favorite person for this kind of topic. She’s my favorite person to podcast with. Don’t tell everybody else that, but I love podcasting with you, Dana. So thank you for being here, Dana. I’m going to pick your brain a ton on this subject. So I’m super excited. How are you today?


I’m doing good. Excited to be here. I love the podcast. You know what, Tif? I will be honest to say podcasting was always something that made me super nervous in the beginning. And I’ve grown to love it so much. And part of that is because I get to do it with you. thank you. I appreciate that. I really do enjoy it. I think I love getting my time in with you. And this is the best way that we can do it in our virtual company right now. So I love it. Thank you.


All right, Dana, today we are talking about some onboarding tips, which I think we have talked about this a lot. We just said that. We talked about onboarding a lot this year. There’s a lot of podcasts that have gone out on onboarding or building out your operations manual. But today I kind of wanted to spin it. We won’t take a whole super long time kind of diving into the operations manual side of it. But I really wanted to spin it today and talk.


about some systems that you’ve used Dana for practices. And I say this every time Dana is my operations manual guru. So I lean on you pretty heavily. I want to talk about first, I want to define onboarding. Number one, like what is it? What is it not? And then number two, I really want to talk about how we can utilize the team to effectively update onboarding and really carry it out because I think leadership or doctors like


they get a little stressed out about it. And I sometimes wonder if it’s because we feel the weight of the new hire on us and we think we have to do everything. And it’s just not always the case. So first, Dana, what would you define onboarding a team member into a dental practice as? Yeah, I think onboarding is the complete process of bringing on a new team member and training them from start to finish on all of their tasks, their job responsibilities, their job descriptions.


The Dental A Team (02:16.238)

and culture pieces in the practice. So I always want to include that mission, the vision, the core values and onboarding them culturally too. And it includes all of the HR pieces. So are they attached to their benefits? Have we done their employment eligibility? All of those pieces are included in onboarding. Yeah, totally, totally. And I think you said like the successful part of it, right? And that really truly means


within that onboarding time period, whatever you choose that to be, we typically will say like a 30, 60, 90, so you have a 90 day onboarding protocol. But whatever that length of time is, that person, whoever it is that’s onboarding, whatever position it is, should be able to carry out 80 at the low end, but I would say at least 90 % of that position’s duty and be able to carry the KPIs that go along with that position to success. So successfully onboarding,


Like you, I love that word because it really, it really pulls out the trigger point of the onboarding. Cause I think often, well, number one in dentistry, how do we, how do we typically onboard? We’re like, my gosh, you’re a dental assistant. Fantastic. You have two weeks of experience. It’s totally fine. Don’t worry. Go sit in that room and he’ll tell you what to do. You’re going to be totally fine. Cause I’ve got five patients I need to go work with. So bye. It’s just like, it’s just training by fire and.


Sometimes it works and oftentimes it really doesn’t. And I think you said something in your definition about culture and core values. And I think that right there creates a culture. I think it creates a culture of having to move too fast for one, like this rush, this sense of rush. And I think it creates a culture of not always getting the support.


that you might want or need and it can make someone feel that I’m just like surmising and making assumptions, but I can only assume that it could make someone feel a little less than, like inadequate because they’re like, I’m supposed to know these things, but I don’t. So successful onboarding, I love that. Dana, what do you define for your clients that you do this with? How do you help them, I guess not define, but how do you help them figure out


The Dental A Team (04:38.029)

what goes into those months? Because we do typically do a 30, 60, 90. And I think everyone in the dental industry is like, you have your 90 days. If we don’t like them, we got to get rid of them before 90 days. And I think somewhere along the way, somebody just made this up. But how do you create that with them in that 30, 60, 90, depending on the position that they’re taking on? Yeah. Well, I talk about this a lot right now because I feel like


Dental teams right now are already understaffed. And so then when they get a new team member finding the capacity within the team to train, having this onboarding system really helps because once it is done and built successfully, that team member should have a resource to do some independent training too, and not feel like they just have to be thrown in, that there are support pieces in place for them too. So usually what I do is, okay, let’s take everything that this position does and what is essential.


for that team member to know within the first 30 days, then 60 days, then 90 days. So you’re basically prioritizing the order in which you train things based on necessity of what are the things. So let’s use a front office team member, right? If we have a check -in person, we want them to know how to greet a patient. We want them to know how to confirm an appointment. And we want them to know how to take a phone call and schedule, right? Like those would be the first essential pieces. We would want them to do that way before we would want them to maybe learn how to present a treatment plan.


Right? They’re the greeter. So what is essential for them to learn in the first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days that then really kind of starts mapping out your training plan? Yeah. Yeah, I love that. I love what you said. I love the essential pieces like what is essential for that person. And then those tie back then to basically the goal of that position. So if you’re like, what’s the goal of your check in your greeter? What’s the goal of your billing department? Because if you can see that clearly, if you’re like,


check -in greeter, you want them to create the warmest welcome and create the atmosphere that you guys are portraying as your patient experience and that it’s the first phase of the practice, the first phone call answered. Like now you know, okay, I’ve got to dial in, not necessarily even the system, like the operating software. I’m going to spend some time there, but more importantly, they need to know how to present themselves.


The Dental A Team (06:58.125)

They need to know how to speak to people and how to engage. So I love that the essentials. And so then we’ve got the essentials, maybe I would say, and maybe you can tell me what you would do. I think if I was looking at essentials for the first month, because they’re also learning, they’re always learning our practice. They’re learning our culture. They’re learning our team members and our patients. So maybe like three to five items that would be essential for them to get really good at. So then by that 30 days.


they should be masters at those three to potentially five. I think three probably feels the best, but they should be masters at those three things. So this person that you have described should be fantastic at making eye contact and greeting the patient as soon as they come in. They should be fantastic at answering the phone and helping at least figure out where that phone call needs to go and be able to speak to the patients. And they should be fantastic at calling to confirm appointments that have been unconfirmed on the schedule. Yeah.


Yeah, no. How do you how do you set up? So okay, so we’ve got our essentials. How do you set up from there? So then from there it is just really what’s the next layer? What is the next level of things for them to learn that are their responsibilities? Then that goes in your 60 days. And that is probably a longer list, I’d say more of like, like 10 things, right, but then go on the 60 day portion. But it’s just what is the next layer for them to know and aren’t maybe necessarily the most essential.


but are still pretty important for them to own at that 60 day mark. Yeah, I love that. I love that. Okay, so we’ve defined your onboarding. We’ve kind of talked about how do we get there. I love the idea of taking their duties, their goals and their duties of the job position. So you can pull your job descriptions if you guys have our version of the operations manual you guys know, or maybe you don’t know and you need to know. If you download those in your back office, then


You have a table of content for every single position within the practice that we’ve created. And you can pull that and utilize that in the job flow to pull these, to extract these duties out to create that 3060. There’s also a 306090 in there, but you can make it your own and figure out what you want it to be. Something that I love doing with practices is really attaching a trainer to a duty.


The Dental A Team (09:22.477)

So it doesn’t have to be one person. I remember when I was in office, I was like, gosh, I love the idea of not being short staffed and having someone to help, but I hate the idea of me having to train them start to finish because I don’t have the time for it. So I have a lot of practices and Dana, I think you do this too with your clients that will look at, okay, well, I need you to learn how to greet the patients. Who’s gonna be the best person?


to teach you what that looks like because they’re really good at it. And I’ll have practices go through and it might be a dental assistant that’s teaching a front office hire on how to present themselves in front of patients because she might be my best at that specific thing. So sometimes it’s like completely feeling outside the box, but it’s satisfying and fulfilling the training. And then also when you tag that in the 30, 60, 90 breakdown that you give them, they know


who they can go to for that thing. And then that person knows what they’re responsible for. So when you do your check -ins, when you do your 30 day check -in or if you’re doing weekly check -ins, I have a lot of practices doing that for the first 30 days, you have that trainer there to say, yes, they’re passed off. Yes, they did it. And you have the trainee there to say that person helps me. So I love doing it that way. Now that’s one way I think to get the team more invested and involved in the onboarding.


so that it’s not all on one person, but refining the onboarding. Dana, I know you, again, you do this constantly with teams. You work with a lot of teams in general. How do you get the teams involved in the refinement process and the creation of that onboarding for those new positions?


Yeah, and I think that this is probably not the best part of this topic, but the part that gets missed often that I think like this podcast is unique on is that usually offices is like, yeah, well, we created our training plan. Here it is. And they never touch it again. Yeah. And now they’re trying to onboard someone five years later and they no longer have this patient communication system. They no longer have this.


The Dental A Team (11:32.205)

software system, they no longer put their x -rays in this system, right? And so then it’s like, well, you spent all this time and yeah, that’s great. But now we decided we’re gonna pull it back out to use it. And it’s not really that usable because we haven’t updated it. So I think for the team getting buy -in in that when these things are updated and they are easily usable, it makes it so much more streamlined when we do bring on a new team member.


So just like when I do a lot of operations menu and we say, hey, update your operations menu every year, don’t forget your onboarding pieces because a lot of things can change in a practice in a year’s time. And so making sure that when you bring on a new team member going down through the 30, 60, 90 and like, do we still do that? Do we still do an automated read care system? Do we still send out reactivation letters? Do we still send out postcards?


Like those things that constantly change, we want to make sure that that’s not still on our onboarding card because we don’t want to spend time training or hunting or having a new team member hunt for resources on something that we don’t do anymore. Yeah, that’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. And I love the idea you said.


As we’re updating our operations manual yearly, having those people within that position go through the 30, 60, 90, which kind of feels weird, right? As a team member, like I’m updating what would onboard for my position. So like it feels weird and it feels like am I setting myself up for somebody to take my job? which is a scary space. I know we all live there within our, within our positions of wherever you’re at. So caveat there, don’t stress out. It’s just to make sure that everything’s, everything’s always duplicatable.


And one, you should never be content with where you are. You should always be looking for growth. Like a human nature is to grow. Human nature is to learn. Human nature is to become something different than you are today. When we get content or complacent in life, we tend to not be as happy, joyful, or like moving forward. So always be looking for that next step. Now,


The Dental A Team (13:40.781)

If that’s the case and you’re checking or insurance verification or whatever in your practice, could you learn TC? What would that look like? What is that onboarding, right? And then guess what? Maybe you level up and you start learning to treatment coordinate in your practice. Somebody’s gotta fill your shoes, right? And also,


Maybe the practice grows, you guys. I see this constantly where the practice is in growth mode, major growth mode, and we’ve got to add another person that does maybe another treatment coordinator. We’ve got one rock star treatment coordinator. She’s not going anywhere, but I need someone who can do what she does. And if we haven’t updated her 30, 60, 90, she’s training that person, period, I’m done. I’m not touching it. If she hasn’t updated it, for lack of us knowing we needed to or for


fear of being replaced, she’s got to train this person on her own now because nobody else knows those pieces. She’s the only one that holds it. So I think Dana, kind of what you’re speaking to, and maybe, maybe you can pull out better words, but I think what we’re speaking to here and what you’re saying is don’t be people dependent, be systems dependent. And so to the doctors, don’t be people dependent, be systems dependent, because you just never know.


Right, Dana? You’ve seen that, right? We’ve seen a lot of turnover this year. We’ve seen a lot of turnover. We’ve seen a lot of need for cross -training because of turnover. And let’s face it, we want our team members to be able to maybe take a vacation and emergencies happen and things come up and people somehow sometimes have to be replaced or shifted in those times, especially now more than ever. Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree with that. I totally agree with that. And I’ve got a practice we talked to.


Nicole, one of our, one of our prized possessions here on our team, we had a call yesterday with a client and his goal, he is a young, like driven doctor. And I love my calls with him because he is just passionate about what he’s doing. And he’s like, I want to make 10 million in 10 years. That’s what he wants his.


The Dental A Team (15:52.301)

practices to collect. So he’s, he’s got a couple of practices now he’s buying more, he’s vetting associates and then figuring out where they want to be and buying a practice where they want to be. I thought that was brilliant. side note, but he’s looking to grow. And I’m like, if we don’t have these positions, so if the practices you have don’t have these manuals dialed in the 30, 60, 90 dialed in, it’s going to be really difficult.


to transplant, pick up and transplant into that next practice or to grow. We’ve got one practice that they’re like, we’re adding more operatories to it. Well, guess what? You add more operatories, you add more assistance, you add more hygiene, you need to add more front office too. So some positions are going to be potentially duplicated.


within your practice. And I think too, you know, there’s practices that I know Dana, you work with some too, that have extended hours. So they’ve got like two shifts of team members. So there’s literally two people doing the same job sometimes in the same day and they just kind of like pass it off. So I think that’s brilliant to make sure that it’s done. So getting the team invested in refining is like you said, having them go through their jobs.


and making sure that everything’s updated, making sure that 30, 60, 90 is also updated. And then Dana, do you ever have, when they’re refining these, because I know we do it in the beginning when you first built your operations manual, but do you, when they’re refining them, have them trade their operations manual portion with a different employee or team member in the practice? Do you do that? Yeah, I do that all the time. And that really just says, oftentimes team members don’t understand how much we have to break things down, right? Because


their experience now they’ve been in the practice they know the system inside and out. So then when they go to document it, it is a more simplified version of that if I walked in with no experience, and can I do the task? So I have them trade so that can somebody who doesn’t know your position do that tray setup or


The Dental A Team (17:47.757)

present that treatment plan or schedule that type of appointment in a different department to truly say, do I have this broken down enough that if I had to independently hand this to an assistant while I hopped into due chair side with doctor, they can do the task independently. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And then I bet when that happens, there’s holes to be found. Yeah, because I know if I went, you know, into any practice right now, I’m a trained dental assistant, and I might think I know how to do it. But I might


totally bought to trace that up and have all kinds of questions even based on a picture that I saw like can’t find this instrument and I have no idea what this is. I remember when I was first learning to dental assist and my doctor was like give me the plastic. I’m like these are all metal, what are you talking about? But it’s the like flat end composite one for anteriors and he just kept giving me the plastic. I’m like why are you calling it that? It is not plastic.


And so there’s just like so many misunderstood words that to someone and I do that a lot where I’m like, I can’t wrap my mind around how you’re not understanding what I’m saying because I don’t know any other way to say it. So sometimes just allowing the other another person, another point of view to look at something and say, this is how I’m interpreting this. And if you’re wanting something different, maybe we should word it this way helps me a ton, a ton. And I know as we’re onboarding, even in our company,


there’s been a lot of times where it’s like, Hey, if it looks like this, it might help this. I’m like, great, great. I love that. So, okay. So Dana, I want to talk about just some like pros and cons real quick. So what are some things that you’ve seen fall apart for practices that didn’t have onboarding tools ready when they hired? What would that look like? So if our dentists today were like,


I’m not, you guys are crazy. I’m not doing this. I’m not putting the work in. What could they, what could they expect? So usually what I see is just a much lengthier onboarding process. So we’ve got team members that are onboarding and it’s at six months and they’re like, they still don’t know how to do this, this, this, and this. Well, were they ever trained on this, this, this, and this? Because sometimes in, in dentistry, right? We might do one thing and then we don’t do that thing again for months.


The Dental A Team (20:13.293)

right, or we don’t touch it for weeks. And so for a new person to watch something one time and then remember how to do it and do it independently six weeks later when we’re asking them to do that, it will feel as if they aren’t making any progress or they only know half of their job. My hunch is they were probably only trained consistently on half their job because we don’t have a list of things that we’re keeping track of that we know.


This person has been taught this. They were trained on it by this person on this date and they said they could do it independently. Yeah. So we’re missing that accountability piece. Yeah. I think you’re right. It made me think too of how many times I’ve had doctors say she just sucks. She sucks. She can’t do it. I’m like, well, what isn’t she doing? Like, what’s just nothing. She just, she’s not doing anything. I’m like, well, what, what are you expecting her to do? Well, show up. Okay. What does that mean? So it’s like almost like


without the onboarding processes, without thinking about the onboarding processes and really defining what that looks like, it’s almost impossible to say if that person is truly working or not. If their personality is not working and they’re just a lump on a log and it’s just, you know it’s not gonna work, I think that’s very different. But if you’re trying to say that somebody’s not fulfilling the roles of that position, but you’re not even super clear on it, it makes it really hard to be able to say. And I think, Dana, when you said it makes it a lot longer,


Right. That’s where doctors come to us and they’re like, how long, how long should I keep someone before I know that it’s time to get rid of them? And I think that helps clarify it as well. So doctors, I would say based on what Dana said, what I’m getting out of that is if you’re in that situation, look at your onboarding. If you’ve ever had that situation and you have onboarding, look at your onboarding. If you don’t have onboarding, go do your onboarding. because I think the flip side of that Dana, and maybe you agree is.


like ease of accountability. It’s easier on the team. And I think splitting it up, splitting the training up between the team members makes it easier on the team. And I think that it, I think it truly helps the culture fit of that individual for your practice. So they become a better team member than maybe they would have before. They may have worked out either way, but I think they become a better team member all the way around.


The Dental A Team (22:28.845)

I agree, I think you can think of like any position that you’ve had where the onboarding process isn’t that smooth. It’s like, I don’t know how I can win, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, and it’s super stressful. Even for the new team member. So yes, it is stressful for the team and finding time to train and finding time to follow an onboarding system, but it is just as stressful for a new team member to come into a practice and try to learn all of their systems within that first 90 days.


So it sets clear expectations for both sides and it also reduces stress for both sides too. Yeah, I love that. Good. Okay, Dana, this was huge. Thank you for all of that information. I knew you’d have the tips that I needed. So Dana, add if you think of any too, but I’m thinking, I did write down, break down what’s essential. So I think first and foremost, you said to…


pull out your operations manuals, look at what it is that that position does, so what’s the goal of their position, what are the duties that they do, and then pull out like three, five tops, but probably about three things that need to be done essentially first. So what are those first essentials, that’s your 30 days, and then layer on from there. So if you don’t have an onboarding process already, I would have your team members start pulling their operations manuals for their positions.


and going through that, what’s essential for this position to learn and then how do we layer on top of that? That’s how you get your team involved. If you have these onboarding processes already, get your team involved and maybe like Rochambeau and just what you have now, give your position to someone who doesn’t typically do your position and then flip -flop and see where those gaps are because that’s where you’re gonna be like, they’ll say, well, well.


What’s weave? You’re like, my God, we haven’t used weave in years. We have Modento. Or what’s this? What’s that? And you’re like, my gosh, OK, got that, got that. So you can highlight those areas. So I think pull those operations manuals, pull those 30, 60, 90s, and have the team start helping to refine them so that you know your systems and processes are correct. So Dana, you’re incredible. Thank you for being my onboarding and operations manual guru. Our team really honestly relies on you a lot for that. So thank you. I appreciate you.


The Dental A Team (24:36.621)

Yeah. All right, everyone, go do your things. Go do all the things. Let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you. If you need help, if you need an operations manual, you don’t have one, you don’t know how to get a hold of one, Hello @ TheDentalATeam .com. We can send you the resources and links on how to find our operations manual and what it looks like to have that. So if you need help with it, reach out, Hello @ TheDentalATeam .com. And we have…


consultants that are ready to help you get the best operations manual of your life. We appreciate you, we value you, we value your feedback, so leave us a five -star review below so we can hear how implementable this was for you and we’ll catch you next time.

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