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Do you trust your team?

May 8, 2021
It's hard for many dentists to truly trust their team members. Allowing the team to make important decisions will lead to better relationships.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and Founder, Levin Group

Nearly every dentist would say that they trust their team. But do you really? There are many levels of trust, and the highest level is letting your team make almost all the day-to-day decisions in the practice.

Most decisions can be made easily if they’re properly outlined within the established systems, policies, and protocols. This is how the best businesses operate, and it takes away a great deal of stress and pressure as the answers to patient questions have been established. For example, if a patient asks for a long-term payment plan on a large case, the front desk staff person or financial coordinator know whether it’s possible based on the established financial system. 

But what about the decisions that aren’t covered clearly by systems, policies, and protocols? For example, there is probably a no-show policy for patients. But what happens when a patient is a no-show because they fell and ended up in the emergency room with a broken arm (true story). Do we charge them if that is the office policy? Do we put them off and delay them before they can get another appointment? This is a decision that isn’t covered by any systems, policies, or protocols. 

What’s good for the practice?

Throughout the year there will be many decisions that are not clearly spelled out. Do you trust your team to make those decisions? You should. Because when you do, your practice will run much more efficiently. However, as the dentist, it can be hard to trust others with your practice. The good news is that there is a simple question that will add to your level of trust and help your team make excellent decisions. Teach them that when they’re making a decision that is not clearly covered by practice systems, policies, or protocols, they should ask themselves if the decision they’re about to make will be positive or negative for the office.

If a team member takes the time to simply ask a question about the decision from the standpoint of whether it’s good or bad for the practice, then it is likely that team member will make a good decision. This is more important than team members being so rigidly trained that they’re afraid of violating practice policy. In the case of the patient who broke her arm, the reaction from the front desk person should be positive, compassionate, and helpful. This is the opposite response from how you might handle someone who is a frequent no-show.

There are times when a simple question can make all the difference. All you need to do is train your team to filter their decisions through how those decisions will impact the practice, and they’ll make excellent decisions. Keep in mind there will be times when team members will make decisions that the doctor or office manager don’t agree with. Rather than being negative or punitive, use this as a teaching moment. Take the time to help the team member understand why another decision would have been better and how they can handle things differently in the future.

So, do you trust your team? Trust is one of the most important feelings for a leader to have in others. One way to enhance trust in your team is to encourage them to make decisions by asking themselves if something will be positive or negative for the practice. The more you trust your team, the better they will perform and the more decisions they will make. This will help relieve stress and save time.

ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, Dr. Levin has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].