Louise Bone looks at how to develop a training programme that will support your team and business to succeed post-COVID-19…
If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that we have the ability to adapt, change and come through the other side, which we’re now heading towards – a second wave notwithstanding.
I have always said that dentists are some of the most resourceful people I know, and the reaction and resilience of the profession to these extraordinary times has only served to further cement that reputation.
Re-evaluating the future
COVID-19 has forced every practice to re-evaluate the way that they work and the way they want their practices to move forwards in the future. I have a mixed portfolio of practices within Scotland and I can say confidently that those with a dental plan base felt more secure about their futures and those without plans are now considering introducing one.
One of the biggest ways all of us have had to adapt to life since COVID-19 is that online platforms such as GoToMeeting, Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Facebook messenger have become a big part of the way we have been working recently.
Many practices have found virtual consultations and WhatsApp groups with patients a great way to stay in touch with patients during the lockdown, and intend to keep doing them even as they can move back to seeing more patients face-to-face.
As you begin recovering from COVID-19, keeping up with your team’s training needs will be crucial. And I’m not just talking about the practical aspects of running the practice, such as the new patient journey and PPE, but also in terms of supporting and motivating the team during a time when they may be feeling a little more fragile and vulnerable than usual.
Having a team that feels well trained will not only make them feel supported, but also confident in facing the challenges that have been thrown up, and will continue to be, by this new way of working.
Below are some tips for how you can begin putting training plans in place:
- Be open and honest with your team. Share your goals and ask them for ideas on how you will travel on this journey together. Consider if you feel confident to facilitate that type of session or do you need some help from an external partner?
- What’s the best way to train your team? Is it in person, e-learning, one-to-one or in a group, externally, as a one-off or a longer-term mentorship? Everyone learns in a different way so you need to be mindful of this and try not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Think about when works best for your team, your practice and you – lunchtime, evening or time out of the surgery during the working day?
- During these changing times the priorities for what you need to focus on may shift. You may need to be flexible in your approach as you think about what are the most important topics to cover first. Is it plan promotion? Updates to legislation/policies? Improving communication skills? Improving your patient journey?
- There will be a lot happening as you move through the recovery stage of your business. However, you still need to record your training logs and keep them up to date. You may want to consider how you will manage this, e.g. including them in your KPIs, development folders, etc. Remember to update your policies and procedures on the back of your sessions.
Team training golden nuggets
Training teams is one of my passions, and I truly believe it will be a core part of all businesses recovering successfully from COVID-19. Below are some of my ‘golden nuggets’ when it comes to delivering training that will have an impact on both your team and your business:
- Invest the time in your team – take time out of your working day to spend training them. If you can, avoid always doing it at lunchtimes, as everyone needs some down time.
- Encourage members of your team to step up and train other members of staff.
- Identify and prioritise training needs before you begin developing your plan.
- Don’t just make it about the dentistry – mix it up, do some personal skills building and team building exercises to get everyone working together in a different way.
- Enlist the help of your product reps, plan providers and those partners who can help support you going forwards.
- It’s not always about the CPD or the lunch – both are lovely, but what does your business and your team get out of it?
Louise Bone has been a Regional Support Manager for Practice Plan Group, a leading provider of practice-branded dental plans, for over six years and has 17 plus years’ experience in dentistry including five in practice. Our team of experienced professionals has supported over 1,500 dental practices to transform the profitability of their business through the combination of a well-populated plan and personalised support. For more information, call 01691 684165 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk