“Metrics” is a big topic. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things in your practice that can – or should – be measured. Sometimes it’s hard just to know where to start. In this article, we’ll look at a two easy, concrete methods to use metrics as the foundation for a mentoring program. This can radically improve the performance and the cohesiveness of your office team as well as fostering the critical skills of leadership in your business.
Mentoring in the practice can take a number of forms. As a staff development technique, it’s hard to beat its potential effects. Both parties, mentor and mentee, benefit from successful implementation. Add to that the results that can manifest in the bottom line and you’ve got a win for the practice as well. Good for everybody!
Identify Your Team’s Skills
Your practice has KPIs (key performance indicators) that show you how you’re performing in all kinds of areas; frame and lens sales, optional services, anti-reflective success rate, 2nd pair eyeglass sales are just a few examples. However, each member of your team also has their own KPIs, which accurately reflect their personal success in these skills. When you view them side-by-side, you can get a clear understanding of how your team is working – most particularly, who on your team is most successful in each KPI. You’ll also be able to see who needs additional help or training.
Don’t forget that there are some things in your practice that may not be directly quantified inside your analytics software. You can uncover some of these contributions by asking each member of your team what it is they think they do best. Everybody has something to add to the business, and it’s not always easy to measure. Make sure you highlight (and share) skills like excellent customer service or creating a great patient experience so that the entire team both feels appreciated and is better able to appreciate each other.
Pair Up for Success
One often-overlooked opportunity to improve your team is to pair a top performer in one area as mentor with a less-successful teammate as mentee. Schedule them to work together, and allow the mentee to stand beside and shadow the mentor. Your leader will have the opportunity to verbalize what they do well, expanding their leadership skills, as well as their professional pride. They’ll also be teaching their colleague skills and product knowledge that will help them grow professionally and also add value to the practice.
As your mentee improves and gains confidence, have them switch roles with the mentor. Let them step forward to try performing the tasks on their own, with the observation and – if needed – supervision of their mentor. It’s also effective to ask the mentee to try and “teach back” the skill. In other words, demonstrate the task as if teaching the mentor. That’s an excellent method for uncovering any indicators that their understanding isn’t quite perfect and pinpointing where they might need a little more practice.
Set Up a Team Improvement Effort
Another outstanding method for not only improving practice performance, but also building a stellar team, is to set up a team improvement initiative. Select someone who’s leading the pack in a particular KPI to moderate a team effort to bring up the practice’s performance in that metric. Ask them to take the lead in a brainstorming session with the whole team, working with the group to create a plan of action to improve that KPI.
Some things you must include in this process:
- Include the entire team. You may not think that everyone has a part to play in every practice initiative, but try to relate your initiative back to some function for everyone. For instance, selling AR may be the job of your dispenser, but if your receptionist is bragging about the wonderful computer lenses that the optician made for him with this great AR coating, then your receptionist is definitely contributing to the sale. Everybody needs to be able to play along and participate. This is a team effort.
- Discuss challenges the team encounters in this area. Your team often already has some insights about what they’re struggling with. Give them a chance to discuss these challenges in a “safe” environment. You may be surprised at how insightful they are. Don’t allow yourself or your team to get involved with recriminations. Remember this is an opportunity for improvement. Stay focused on solving problems, not placing blame.
- Brainstorm potential ways to improve the KPI. Let the whole team throw their ideas on the table. Make sure every member of the team has a chance to participate here. They must be included in creating the plan in order to really be part of the solution.
- Create a plan of action that the whole team agrees on. Set concrete steps that are based on the brainstorming session. Make sure those steps include any needed external resources, like product training or education. The key is that everybody agrees that this is a good plan. It may take some work to get a consensus going, but keep at it until your team is fully on board.
- Identify responsibilities. Who’s going to do what? Your plan needs to be specific, and we can’t just say “everybody needs to help.” Assign responsibilities to individuals and then make sure you follow through to ensure that they’re participating. If at all possible, build in accountability for each person’s role.
- Set a Goal- Very Important! Leverage your metrics for this. You’ve used your practice analytics to identify what you want to work on, now choose an improvement goal based on the desired outcome. The goal needs to be achievable, but it should still be a challenge, otherwise your team may not really get excited about it. A challenging goal will help them develop a feeling of accomplishment, which is a major team-builder.
- Set a schedule for implementation and reviewing results. Here’s where the metrics get really magical. As part of your action plan, set a timetable for tracking and reviewing results. Don’t waste all of this effort by failing to follow up. You’ll need these opportunities to adjust your approach and / or celebrate the results with the team.
Pro tip: If you’re using EDGEPro, add the target KPI to your custom dashboard so it’s front and center every time you log in.
A Couple of Cautions
Speak to your potential mentors before volunteering them. You need to be sure they are willing to participate before proceeding. After all, an unwilling mentor could tank your program before it even gets off the ground. If they’re unsure, or feel they may not be qualified to undertake mentoring, seek out some resources to help them acquire or improve those skills. The benefits are potentially significant, and it’s definitely worth the time and effort to implement mentorship correctly.
Resist the urge to use metrics negatively with your team. Learn to think of KPIs as indicators that help you find opportunities to build your business. Be especially careful of being overly critical of team members in group settings. Keep it positive and focus on forward progress. If you need to address a lack of participation in one individual, keep that conversation private.
Mentoring works, and mentoring done well is very valuable. It can be incredibly empowering for your team, both as individuals and as a whole. Using your KPIs properly will help you come to your improvement and growth strategies from a place of knowledge. Equip yourself with the information you need to take a great team-building exercise and turn it into a great practice-building initiative. Your team will be more confident, more productive, and you may uncover some hidden talents as well.