Many people make resolutions for a New Year when they are reflecting on the previous year for changes they want to see in their lives. It takes a lot of effort and focus to achieve goals. It is a constant and consistent effort to change, and many people feel that they are defeated when they make resolutions. A resolution without a plan attached to it is just a dream. A well-defined resolution with a plan and the necessary steps decided on in advance will get you to your goals. Very often dental offices feel that their atmosphere is too stressful, or team members are not getting along or worst of all, the team agrees that it’s an awful place to work due to constant changeover of team members. The resolution then becomes “I want work to be better.” This is always translated into smoother, more efficient, happier, less stressful etc. In summary, the office culture is out of whack.
Today I want to offer some concrete ways that you can change your office culture. It will take work and effort; it should be a plan that you check in on regularly to know your progress.
- Your own optimistic attitude will spread through the office if you share it. Very often owners will show their frustrations by sitting and stewing in their office between patients. Team will see you warm and outgoing with patients, but you aren’t connecting with team. You need to positively connect with the team from the first good morning to the last goodbye of the day, connect with your team with positive interactions. If there is an issue with a team member correct it quickly and privately, don’t let your frustration rule your day.
- Gandhi famously said “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet” Don’t allow any team members become toxic in your practice, you may not enjoy difficult situations but the situations don’t just evaporate, either you or your Operations Manager need to tackle the issue to get ahead of it before it impacts the office. Have zero tolerance for gossip in your office.
- If you take great care of your patients and the team the numbers will come. Great care for the patients comes from clinical care, great care for your team comes from competitive wages, known expectations for their performance and great systems that are easy and repeatable in all areas of the practice. Creating a healthy workplace for your team will avoid team turnover.
- Remember your “Why”. Why did you become a dentist, why did you open a practice and what is your goal? You can easily get burned out when you forget what led you to this place, bring your “Why” back into place and you will begin to see the light.
- It is always fun and interesting to implement a “No Complaining Rule” in an office. If you are complaining, you likely aren’t leading your team. Let the team know that complaining of any kind isn’t acceptable in the office, even if it is about the weather. It will force the team to re-frame their thoughts with solutions. For example: “Susan is in today and she is a patient I can’t stand, she always complains about every single step of the procedure.” Re-framing that could sound like “Susan is in today, she always challenges us, let’s see if we can make her smile at least five times today.”
- Trying new ideas doesn’t always work, you need to try new ideas without worrying that they won’t work. The idea might need some refining but never changing anything because you are worried about failing will never move you ahead. Listening to team members who approach change with “we tried that before and it didn’t work” shouldn’t stop you from re-trying an idea, maybe it didn’t work the first time, figure out the reason it didn’t work, refine the idea, and try again.
I am sure by now you have realized that as the leader of your practice you need to lead change, acknowledging our own part in change is significant, the leader needs to be part of the solution.