10.26.07 - Issue # 294 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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The Five (Dys)Functions Every Team Faces

How would you respond if I said, “Tell me about your Team”.

It’s likely that you’ll list the specific job categories in your practice (i.e. number of clinical and administrative staff) and/or the names of your employees.

However, I didn’t ask about the composition of jobs or the identity of individuals in your office. I asked about your “Team”.  You might say,

  • 'A sniveling group of complainers who are overpaid and still don’t do the job right. They constantly have little tiffs with each other. Reminds me of junior high school. If I could, I’d replace them all.'

Or would you give the following description?

  • Everyone on our team makes an important contribution to the practice. By addressing issues openly, honestly and respectfully we gain trust with each other. We work together to accomplish our goals and we dedicate ourselves to the needs of our patients. We make a difference in every smile. And we better ourselves by relaxing, having fun, supporting each other and being accountable for our actions.

These examples certainly are extremes yet they highlight a Gestalt Psychology principle: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A team is not just a group of individuals. A team is what happens between individuals…how they communicate, work together, and support one another toward a common goal.

Successful teams have better results because the combined knowledge and skill set of the group surpasses that of any one individual. Consequently, strong dental teams get more done in less time with less cost. This is a HUGE competitive advantage.

Despite the benefits, good teamwork is hard to achieve. It requires courage and discipline. After all, teamwork is about individuals setting aside their needs for the good of the whole.

The book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, continues to be highlighted on The New York Times, Business Week, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller lists for good reason. In this leadership fable, author Patrick Lencioni illustrates the importance of strong teamwork. Here are the five functions that every team must address if it wants to succeed.

Build Trust
Trust is the foundation of teamwork. On a team, trust is about vulnerability. Building trust takes time, but the process can be accelerated. Like a good relationship, trust must be maintained and fine-tuned over time.

Master Conflict
To resolve differences requires direct and respectful communication. It is only after trust is established that teams are capable of engaging in constructive and sometimes heated dialogue. In dental offices where team members do not address important issues directly with one another, valuable energy and time are wasted with bickering and griping. Patient care suffers and so does your bottom line.

Achieve Commitment
Commitment requires buy-in and clarity. It is only when teams learn to handle conflict constructively that they can come to agreement on the most important practice goals and objectives. Commitment also means honestly supporting one another and the decisions of the team. Clear direction combined with unified effort yields accountability.

Embrace Accountability
When a team establishes trust, successfully resolves conflict, and honestly commits to a clear plan of action, the group will become responsible for itself. Team members willingly remind one another when they are not living up to the standards of the group. Accountability on strong teams occurs directly among co-workers. Of course the dental leader must model a willingness to confront difficult issues.

Focus on Results
When everyone is focused on collective goals, the business thrives. Egos, personal career development, money and departmental desires become secondary to the primary mission of the team.

The first step toward solidifying the individuals in your office is to determine which of the five areas you need to develop. Start with the most basic and build on that. The rewards are plentiful. Functional teams don’t get bogged down by personalizing or blaming. The team avoids wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again. Functional teams make higher quality decisions and accomplish more in less time and with less distraction and frustration. Finally, satisfied employees rarely leave offices where they are part of a larger goal and a cohesive team.

Does your team need to function better? Email Dr. Haller @ coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here

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