2.26.10 Issue #416 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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BOSS Is Not A Four-Letter Word

Running a dental practice is becoming more high pressure and the workforce is becoming more high maintenance. This calls for strong people-management skills. As CEO of your company, you need to step up and be the boss. That's the job, no ifs, ands or buts. The sooner you recognize it the better. Being the boss entails certain responsibilities which cannot, under any circumstances, be delegated.

Remember, you have the ultimate authority in your office. You may be tempted to rationalize the responsibility away, deferring to your Office Manager as the one who “handles employee matters.” Before you do, consider the word rationalize - the ability to “ration lies.” You can come up with all kinds excuses of why you can’t be the boss – not enough time, you need to do dentistry not manage people, you’re planning to get around to it this year, etc. etc. In truth you may be feeding yourself small doses of lies every day to the point that you convince yourself not to act because you don’t like the thought of being the boss. Not feeling up to the task? You're not alone. For many, the greatest hesitation about becoming the boss is the fear of being seen as incompetent. Frequently people feel unprepared for the responsibility.

The boss’ job is to make sure everything goes right. Behavior is what drives performance and you have 100% control over the actions you take. By learning and practicing some simple techniques you can become the kind of boss your employees need you to be.

Observe More, Never Assume
You can learn a great deal about how an employee reacts or responds by observing as others try to communicate with him/her. It’s so easy to assume that if you like a short and direct approach, your employees will respond well to that same style. Some people, however, might shut down very quickly if they feel they are being pressed too hard. Similarly, if you have a strong extraverted style, quiet employees may feel overwhelmed with your exuberance. Each person is different, therefore to be an effective boss you must determine how best to communicate with each team member.

Ask For Direction
A great way to get some initial ideas on how employees prefer to communicate is to observe. However, nothing takes the place of simply asking the employee his or her preference. Use open-ended questions such as, “Help me understand…”, or “Can you please explain to me...”, or “Am I correct in thinking...” etc.

Put Your Ego Aside
When you’re the boss, it's not about you looking good. In fact, 60 percent of employees said the most respectable quality in a boss was their ability to help them succeed. In essence, the job of a boss is to help your employees grow. Effective leaders relinquish the spotlight and put others there instead. No doubt it is a stressful transition going from being judged on your own accomplishments to those of your team, but being a boss means helping employees shine by making their success as important as your own. 

Be Supportive Yet Firm
Being a good boss is really like being a good parent. Your job is to teach, to encourage, to hold them accountable. It is not your job to be their friend. Open and respectful communication is key to ensuring that you are able to make steady progress. There will no doubt be times when you need to counsel an employee because he or she is not meeting your expectations. If an employee does something you’re not happy with, say it as soon as possible and in private. Don’t keep things on your chest while saying to yourself “they should’ve known better.” When communicating to employees, it’s crucial that you always maintain a healthy balance in your message. While you need to be firm, you also need to convey support. Your comments should be specific and focused on performance or behaviors that you’ve identified. Always keep it strictly professional, never personal.

Filter Issues For Them
While some degree of feeling pressure on the job is healthy, especially in a quick-paced, ever-changing, competitive working environment, bosses should never lose sight of the fact that people can become overwhelmed. Filter issues for them on an as-needed basis. Teach them about “so what” and “how does this relate to the bottom line.” Teach them about things that matter to you so they will know how to meet your expectations. Continually assess whether or not the team has their priorities in place and are spending resources wisely at all times.

Boss is not a title, nor is it a dirty word. It’s something you develop. With practice you can expand your skills and become the kind of boss that employees appreciate… and your practice deserves.

The potential to become a better boss is well within your capability! Contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

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

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