Okay, you’ve found our office to be a “nice” place to work. The facility is clean and safe. Your co‑workers are friendly. The pay and benefits are okay. But what’s this “team” thing? It kind of sounds like some hoky idea left over from high school sports. We hope you’ll find it to be a whole lot more valuable than you could possibly imagine. In fact, it should become the most important single factor in making your time with us exciting, fun, and provide you with a real sense of fulfillment.
In 1994, Xerox offered their employees $1040.00 to join an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) for a family of 4 OR the employee could PAY $948.00 of their own money to continue traditional fee for service insurance. 74.4% of the employees chose the HMO and saved $2000.00. Why did Xerox (and most other companies) pay such huge sums of money to change how health care is delivered? They wanted to stay in business and make a profit. American companies no longer compete only against other American companies. We now have a global economy where American companies compete against companies in Sri Lanka, Mexico, and China where workers were paid from 2.00 to 7.00 PER DAY in 1994.
American companies must find ways to reduce this huge advantage that foreign countries have. Healthcare has become a major employee coast. Therefore, reducing this cost will make American companies more competitive and, ultimately, save jobs in our country. Dentistry is a NON‑essential, discretionary health service. People die without medical care. No one dies if his or her teeth aren’t cleaned every six months. Most dentists make a mistake in becoming price controlled by insurance companies. Isn’t a silver filing a silver filling? Can there really be any difference between a tooth cleaning on one office and that cleaning in another office? Unfortunately dentists have accepted the insurance companies’ established fees as their standard for payment since the early 1970’s. Today, most American believe that insurance companies know better than dentists what a “fair fee” should be.
Today 90% of dentists participate in managed care. Managed care means the dentists will be paid a fee dictated by the Managed Care (insurance company) and the patient won’t pay anything above this. These fees paid by managed care range from 50‑80% of our standard fees. When we eliminate our 65‑70% overhead, that means our 30‑35% profit is reduced to 0‑15%. You and I don’t have to be too smart to see that dentists who participate in these plans are going to have to cut their overhead and, you’ve guessed it! Staff salaries are the single largest expense (most practices pay over 33% of every dollar collected in staff salaries and benefits) we have.
If managed care means cut-rate dentistry ‑ reduced service to clients, reduced profit for dentists, and reduced salaries for staff, then how do we avoid it? WE must work together as a team! Being a fully functional team can be our competitive secret weapon. At General Mills, the self‑managed teams produced 40% more than the traditional work force. Now, being a team doesn’t just mean everyone likes working together, although that’s important. Being an effective team means setting and achieving meaningful goals and if you want to avoid managed care, these goals must all able to increase the value to our clients. If we all work together we can make this a place that will provide all of us:
The only way to achieve these goals will be to cooperatively work together as a team. Until 1994 this idea of “team” meant very little. Organizations have talked about “teams,” and being a “team player” for years, but I have seldom seen a really good team. The individuals who make up a team will need a whole new set of skills. These skills will involve
Wow! The times are changing! What happened to the jobs where workers would come in, do a good job on their assigned tasks, stay out of trouble, and go home to enjoy their family and friends. These employees are going to be working in a managed care practices ‑ at substantially reduced incomes. The average career life expectancy for the average staff member in dentistry is 2‑3 years. People float in, work for awhile, and leave, usually blaming and making excuses on the way out. We are going to ask a lot of you. A lot more than just learning some tasks as defined in a traditional dental office. However, we are also going to give you the opportunity to take control of your own career. It’s a sad fact, but job security is a thing of the past. No business can guarantee an employee a job anymore. However, we can guarantee you our best effort to help you build your knowledge base. To be successful in the work force of the 21st century you must continually improve your skill base. This makes you more valuable here and more marketable if you move or change careers in the future.
Each time you pass through a training level, you will add to your understanding of what a team is and how you can become a valuable member of our team. What’s the difference between a group of people working together and a team? Here are some statements made by individuals working on their own with no effort at fitting into a team:
“Why do I have to do your work for you?”
“It’s quitting time. I’m outta’ here!”
“That’s not my job!”
“I can’t help. I don’t know where the amalgam is stored.”
“I don’t get paid to pick up trash.”
“You made the mess. You clean it up.”
“I do everything around here and I’m sick of it.”
“It’s too much work to learn new tasks. I know enough already.”
Compare those statements with those of a true team member
“You look overworked. How can I help?”
“It doesn’t matter who’s supposed to do it. I’ll help.”
“If we work together we’ll finish quick.”
“How can we do this even better than before?”
“Good morning. What a great day!”
“I couldn’t have done it without your help.”
“I’m sorry I made that mistake. How could I avoid it the next time?”
A team will:
To be a successful team member, you need to
So what’s in it for me? Try this list:
Why use a team?
As you begin to fit into your team, ask yourself the following seven questions. The clearer your answers, the better you will fit into your team
1. What are we here to do?
2. How have we organized ourselves?
3. Who is in charge?
4. Who cares about our success?
5. How do we work through our problems?
6. How do we fit in with the other teams here at HealthPark?
7. What benefits do team members need from the team?
You don’t have to write down your answers (although it might help if you do!). The questions will always stay the same; it’s your answers that will change. Your answers lie in your other team members. The better you know them ‑ what they do at HealthPark, how you can help each other, what everyone’s goals are ‑ the more accurate your answers will be. Here is a list of characteristics of effective and non‑effective teams. Read them and see how you would rate HealthPark.
Characteristics of Effective and Ineffective Teams
Information Flows freely up, down; Flows mainly down, weak sideways horizontally Full sharing Hoarded, withheld Open and honest Used to build power Incomplete, mixed messages
People relationships Trusting Suspicious and partisan Respectful Pragmatic, based on need or Collaborative liking Supportive Competitive, Withholding
Conflict Regarded as natural, even Frowned on and avoided helpful Destructive On issues, not persons Involves personal traits and motives
Atmosphere Open Compartmentalized Nonthreatening Intimidating Noncompetitive Guarded Participative Fragmented, closed groups
Decisions By consensus By majority vote or forcing Efficient use of resources Emphasis on power Full commitment Confusion and dissonance Based on data Based on guess work
Creativity More options Controlled by power subgroups Solution‑oriented Emphasis on activity and inputs Focus on methods, processes Focus on results
Power Base Shared by all Hoarded On competence On politicking, alliances Contribution to team Pragmatic sharing Leaders help staff do their Contribution to power source best Leaders tell people what to do
Motivation Commitment to goals set by Going along with imposed goals team Coercion and pressure Belonging needs satisfied Individual achievement valued More chance for achievement without concern for the group through group
Rewards Based on contribution to Basis for rewards unclear group Based on subjective, often Peer recognition arbitrary appraisals
Watch out for these myths:
Find a quiet place and answer these questions after you’ve been here 6 weeks.
1. What I like best about being on a team is…
2. I am most frustrated in the group when…
3. I feel left out when…
4. One strength I bring to the team is…
5. A major problem I see is …
6. I work best with people who…
7. I’d be a better team member if…
8. Our team works best when…
9. Our team gets blocked when…
10. I would be happier on this team if…
11. The thing I am most proud of this team for is…
12. The 3 staff members who help me the most are…