Attention, dentist: This is why your team hates you

Team members in many dental practices have feelings toward their dentist-employers ranging from cordial dislike to outright animosity. If this describes your practice, it’s time to make some changes before it’s too late.

Feb 15th, 2013

Editor’s Note:I have spoken to dental assistants at meetings and roundtables across the country, and many have told me what a chaotic environment they work in on a daily basis. When I read this article in the Winter 2013 edition of “Sidekick” (thanks to Jon Baucom and his team for allowing me to reprint this), I thought of some of the horror stories I’ve heard from dental assistants. Does this article describe your practice? If so, it’s time to make some changes ... before it’s too late.

When my company was small, it was easy. Unfortunately, after the organization grew beyond three employees, my team started to hate me, and I couldn’t understand why. If this resonates with you, I feel your pain.

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I remember looking at inspirational posters normally associated with corporate offices or the movie “Office Space.” One had a picture of a sunset above the word INTEGRITY in bold white letters. I realized that this word had no meaning within my company.

In today’s world, integrity is an obscure concept. That’s why those posters can elicit cynicism and resentment in the workplace. And dental practices are not exempt.

Team members in many dental practices have feelings toward their dentist-employers ranging from cordial dislike to outright animosity. What you may not realize is that your actions may be the cause. Spending all of your energy on patients but neglecting your team will kill their respect for you. Ask yourself if you are providing your team members with their three basic desires — appreciation/acknowledgment, safety/security, and respect. Simply signing their paychecks will not be enough to maximize effectiveness and profitability in your practice.

If you are not meeting the needs and desires of your team, you may have an integrity problem. Let me explain. Integrity means being true to your word. It means that people will follow where you lead because they know they can trust you to keep your commitments.

Team members will only trust their doctor-employer in the future if he’s kept his word in the past. The more a doctor breaks trust, the less power he has as a leader.

In this 21st century, dentistry is shifting to a focus on complete health and wellness, a movement that NextLevel Practice is mobilizing for practices around the world. If you are not focused on total health for yourself and your team, how can you give patients total health?

These are the steps I took to establish integrity in my organization:

  1. Take full responsibility for your team’s morale, motivation, and business performance. Stop blaming others.
  2. Establish that the past is the past and leave it there.
  3. Create a new future, one that is a world-class operation, fun, and respectful. Hire a business coach to implement a model that you and your team can manage, and then hire a personal coach for leadership training so you know how to interact in an empowering way.
  4. Give your team permission to alert you if you say or do something that disempowers them.
  5. Implement clear agreements, purpose, and deadlines and assure the staff of your support.

Today, I have a team that I love and respect. We have grown at least 50% per year since I have taken full responsibility. This has filtered down to our clients, who also use these principles and actions.

For more information, call NextLevel Practice at (212) 388-1712 today.

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