Leadership in your dental practice is not to be taken lightly. Even though most dentists take the job very seriously, it's still easy to fall into some bad habits without even realizing it. Here are four to try hard to avoid.
This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.
PRACTICE OWNERS FACE A PERPETUAL TIME CRUNCH. There never seems to be enough minutes in the day to get it all done—treat patients, present cases, speak with other doctors, review key performance indicators (KPIs), motivate the team, eat lunch, etc. Clinical care, which is how the practice generates revenue, usually and justifiably trumps others activities.
In such a time-compressed, fast-paced environment, it’s easy to fall into some bad leadership habits. Here are four you should do your best to avoid:
We all procrastinate, whether at home or at the office. “Yes, I’m going to clean out the garage sometime this fall,” we tell ourselves. Yet months go by, and the garage remains messier than ever. The same applies to your practice. You may need to update your practice management software, replace your scheduling system, or talk to an employee about a recurring performance issue, yet the activity always gets postponed. Sometimes, there are good reasons for delay, but if the item remains on your to-do list month after month, or worse, year after year, it won’t get done unless you make it a priority.
Minor issues can easily turn into major crises if they’re ignored long enough. Break the procrastination habit by identifying problems, creating a plan of action, and setting realistic deadlines and sticking to them.
It’s good to be passionate about what we do, but sometimes emotions can get the best of us. While we don’t want to procrastinate on important issues, we also don’t want to race ahead without a plan.
I’ve met a number of dentists who are quick to jump on the latest trend and then just as quick to abandon that initiative for something else. “Today, we’re going to be a cosmetic-only practice; tomorrow, a one-stop shop for every oral health need. Wait, today we’re going to be a group practice with multiple locations.”That kind of emotional decision making wreaks havoc on your team members, who feel like they’re on some out-of-control amusement ride. Take your time for the big decisions, get input from experts and stakeholders, think it through, put together a plan, and then move forward.
Things change. It’s a fact of life. We may not like that dentistry is now more competitive, that patients are less loyal than in the past, or that technology plays a greater role in our lives and practices. Yet, those are the facts, and not liking those facts doesn’t make them go away. For many people, change is hard. But if we don’t respond to what current and future patients want and expect, whether it be advanced technology, more convenient hours, or (fill-in-the-blank), then we just end up hurting our office as patients move on to other dental practices. To be a practice owner today, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone because, as soon as you reach that place, it will be time to change again.
4. Failure to follow through
Nothing is more dispiriting to team members than when the dentist makes a promise and then doesn’t keep it. Don’t be a promiser without also being a deliverer.
If there’s a disconnect between your words and actions, your team will start to doubt nearly everything you say. Don’t let that happen. If you make a promise, keep it. Even if you run into unexpected obstacles, find a way to get it done. Your team will appreciate your efforts and be inspired to do the same for the practice and their fellow employees.
Remember—The perfect leader does not exist. No matter how good of a practice CEO you are, there’s always room for improvement. Elevate your leadership skills by avoiding these four critical mistakes!