QUESTION: I’m a new dental office manager and I’m only in my late 20s. I realize there is a lot to learn. How can I get my team to trust and respect me?
ANSWER FROM JUDY KAY MAUSOLF of Practice Solutions, Inc:
I really believe the No. 1 leadership principle is to “model the waddle” you want to see. In other words, walk the walk! If managers don't lead by example, they are very difficult to follow. How can anyone trust a manager who says one thing but does another?
Everything really does come from the top down. Set standards, don’t allow double standards, and live and maintain those standards. If you want your team’s focus to be in the best interest of the patients and the practice, yours must be as well. Actions always speak louder than words.
If you say one thing and do another they will start to doubt and be suspicious of everything you tell them. They may lose trust that you're doing the right thing, or that you even know what you're doing. The vision you're trying to make happen will falter when your team doesn't trust or respect you anymore, which will result in a plummeting performance.
Instead, lead by example! Show up enthusiastic and on time. Be engaged, positive, upbeat, and available to your team and patients. Do what you said, when you said and how you said you would do it. It takes strength of character, perseverance, and a strong commitment to do the right thing.
Leading by example is the easiest path to getting your team on board to do what you want them to do. If your team knows that you'll also do whatever you expect from them, they'll work hard to help you achieve your vision.
• Be willing to roll up your sleeves and do it together.
• If you ask a coworker to do something, make sure you'd be willing to do it yourself.
• If you implement new rules for the office, follow those rules as closely as you expect everyone else to follow them.
• Look at your own behavior. If you criticize people for something but you constantly do it yourself, you need to fix this.
ANSWER FROM LISA MARIE SPRADLEY, FAADOM, The Front Desk Lady, TCB Dental Consulting:
As a new office manager, the first piece of advice I will share is to always be willing to learn. There are so many changes in our field, and we must constantly keep our eyes and ears open to stay on top all the latest advancements and tools available to make the office efficient and patient friendly. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help from those who have been doing this longer than you. Everyone likes to feel like they’re valued, and this is an excellent way to let your team know how much you respect their advice. If you want your team to take pride in their work and for this to be more than just a job, show them how important their roles are in the office.
Let the team know that you are all here for one mission — to take care of patients. Share your vision for the practice with them, and then show them through your words and actions how to accomplish these goals. One important thing to remember is that as the office manager you’re looked up to as an example. Remember that the care you put into your work will be the standard you set for the rest of the team.
My next piece of advice is to always be grateful to your team. Tell them thank you at the end of every day to let them know how much you appreciate a job well done, and be sure to comment on the positive as well as the areas that need to be improved. Teams are made up very different personalities, but everyone likes to hear that they did a good job!
Congratulations on your new position and continue to ask questions. Asking is the only way to learn!
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