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The DUMB Files: Your team hates your new idea

Oct. 5, 2018
Just what is the laser-beam-eyes-hate-stare? That's your team members when you suggest your latest idea for change. What can you do?
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Well, here’s a mistake that we’ve all probably made. Let’s say you attend an inspiring lecture or read a motivational article. You’ve been struggling with a practice problem, and now here is a beautifully packaged solution offered at the lecture or in the article that makes perfect sense. I love that feeling, don’t you?

You call a team meeting and can’t wait to spread the joy. “Hey, gang, guess what? We’re going to start asking patients for Google reviews because I heard that’s important. Everyone got it?” If you’re paying attention, you can actually see your office manager roll her eyes into the back of her head, and feel the heat of your chairside assistant’s laser-beam-eyes-hate-stare. After the huddle is over, your team reminds each other that you’ll forget about your latest scheme in a few days and they can just get back to business as usual.

Does this sound familiar?

I don’t blame our teams. This idea, while based on the best of intentions, has two major problems: (1) the logistics haven’t been thought out, and (2) there is no team buy-in.

I’ve learned that a better approach to instituting new ideas is to be more inclusive. Here’s how it has worked for me. First, call a meeting with the appropriate team members and identify the problem (e.g., not enough new patients, high cancellation rates, poor lab communication, etc.). Ask them what they know about the problem and listen to feedback about their frustrations. I guarantee you that your practice will be better served when you listen to the people who are in the trenches. You will have a far better understanding of the problem than if you try to just solve it on your own.

Once you’ve collected some concerns and stress points, next ask your team how they would solve the problem. Again, I assure you they know more about why a system isn’t working than you do. If you hear a solution that you and your team both like, tweak the logistics as needed and then, implement it! This is the time to bring in the expertise that you gained from those inspiring lectures and motivational meetings. And here’s the magical part . . . your team will have automatic buy-in. They helped solve the problem, so they want to see the solutions succeed.

You’re still the dentist/CEO/president/grand poobah. You will lead your team through the trenches. But please don’t make the mistake I’ve made for years where I’ve attempted to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Let’s all ask and listen before we give directives.



I am DUMB, and here’s why . . .
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