In our last article we talked about the emotional toll embezzlement can create in your practice. The good news is that you can get past this. It doesn’t seem like it at times, but you will move on.
How are you going to do that you ask? Well, how do you eat an elephant?...That’s right-one conversation at a time. That is the key! You have to talk about it. Get it out in the open. The more we whisper about it and not have the conversation, the bigger that elephant becomes. You need to break it down piece by piece.
If you do not have team meetings…now is the time to start. Even if you start your meetings for the lunch hour and bring lunch in…that’s OK. You need to start. Topics for the meetings should include each of the following:
Let it all out—this is not comfortable to a lot of people but there should be a discussion of how each person feels about what happened and how it has affected them. Everyone should be open and honest in addition to feeling safe enough to do so. Tensions are running high and everyone needs to be able to express their feelings with the “family” or “team” with which they are in the trenches. This is not an easy thing to do, but is necessary for recovery.
What do we say?—another topic of discussion needs to be what the “company line” is going to be to patients. You have to be very careful what you say about an employee that has left because they were stealing, especially if they have not been convicted yet. Also because you do not want your patients to lose confidence in you. The other piece to talk about is explaining to patients if there balance is incorrect or they say they made a payment that is not reflected on their account. Everyone needs to be on the same page with what is said and how these questions are answered.
Team Building—it is time to start rebuilding trust and get everyone rowing in the same direction again. You will either want to find some team building activities to do with the team, or have a consultant or trainer come in with some activities. Focus on rebuilding trust and increasing the communication within the practice.
Always remember, it is alright to ask for help. Your practice has just been through a very difficult event. Seek advice and help from others. There are many people out there that have been in your shoes and are happy to help you.
The other thing to remember is: you have discovered this wrong that has been bestowed on you…it has stopped. Your money is “yours” again. Let’s rejoice in that. You can now put processes and safeguards in place to minimize your chances of this ever happening again. It is a time to rebuild.
Janice Janssen, RDH, CFE, Consultant
At age 14, Janice Janssen got an after-school job working for her dentist. Twenty-something years later, she is the co-founder of Global Team Solutions and an expert in practice consulting.
Besides hands-on experience, Janice has gained professional recognition for her hard work and commitment to excellence. She is co-author of OMG! Office Management Guide, the “bible” used in GTS training workshops. She is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC), and is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), which positions her as an expert in educating dentists to deter fraud and embezzlement in their practice.
Janice can be reached at: email@example.com