How to Manage a “Lone Ranger” Employee
Dental practices thrive on a team approach to get through the work day. The hiring process revolves around putting together a team of people who will work well together towards a goal of great patient care. Matching the best personality types to job descriptions has proven to be an effective way to create a great team. Demonstrating good sportsmanship is valued when a team member needs help; another team member will gladly jump in to complete the job. In a team environment, members are willing to give credit where credit is due and take direction toward a common goal. Team players love the strong sense of being part of a team when they know they are all on the same page.
What happens when you have a star employee who doesn’t appear to be part of the team and who thrives on autonomy – a motivated self-starter who gets the job done without the help of anyone else? This person is referred to as a Lone Ranger. They do not like to be micro-managed because they have usually completed a task before being asked to do it. Some Lone Rangers are so committed to the business they can solve problems and reach goals that their employer has been trying to do for years. To the rest of the team, a Lone Ranger can appear aloof and a bit fanatic about seeing that things are done correctly.
When an employer says, “I want someone who can do it all, does not have to be motivated and will think outside the box” the response is, “You are looking for a Lone Ranger.” Lone Rangers prefer working solo and feel they accomplish more that way, but will work with a team when they see a balance in participation and doing their best work. Lone rangers are not a bad thing to a business, but their roles within the business need to be a good fit. Giving a Lone Ranger an entire project with a deadline for completion is often a way to use this talent. In practices where growth is the result of the hard work of a Lone Ranger Office Manager, this person may be reluctant to search for a new hire to share the job duties for fear of upsetting the work accomplished.
Recently a client mentioned his ongoing frustration with a member of his dental team. “How can I turn a Lone Ranger into a team player?” First, look to the written job description that the Lone Ranger agreed to in the hiring process. If it says “must be a team player” then define what kind of team participation is required. For instance, is the team supposed to participate in the morning meetings and the monthly staff meeting and then work independently? Is this person supposed to delegate and monitor work assignments of others or help and motivate team members? The Lone Ranger may be the one seeing that tasks are completed on time by other team members.
Define the type of team participation the practice needs. Does it need cross functional teams that work smoothly and seamlessly, or separate work by individuals? Many dental practices operate as separate job descriptions without crossover, such as a dental assistant and a business coordinator. Both work separate from each other but the business coordinator must consider how the dental assistant will be needed when scheduling patient appointments, allowing time to take down and set up a room, sterilization, charting and patient education. In many practices, if the dental assistant needs help, the business coordinator will step in to assist. The Lone Ranger may see this as an organizational issue and time management problem to be solved.
Don’t assume that your Lone Ranger realizes he or she is behaving in a certain way, or realizes the impact of that behavior on the group or team. Probe during the interview to find out how much team experience this person has had within a group work setting or even playing sports. Arrange an informal private meeting to review job expectations and requirements. Take a collaborative problem-solving approach as a first step. Get the Lone Ranger’s perspective. Agree on a follow-up date to review the situation. Don’t wait until the annual performance review to bring these issues up.
Learn how to manage your team effectively to bring about positive results. Call McKenzie Management today, 877-777-6151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and inquire about our Dentist CEO or Office Manager training program.Forward this article to a friend
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