Leadership 101: You Are the Boss
If you’re going to be the LEADER of your SHIP, you’ve got to see yourself as the one who’s accountable for the state of your practice. You are the boss. Be honest with yourself. What’s working, and what’s driving you crazy? Be careful to avoid the islands of ‘woulda’, ‘coulda’, and ‘shoulda’ because you’ll get marooned there. While you may not see solutions at this very moment, the first step is to recognize where you are.
Dr. Phoenix did just that. She called me to work on her leadership. Although she is not a computer expert, she is a visionary business woman. She decided to take her practice to the next level with technology and she is now in the digital world with x-rays, computers in treatment rooms and a paperless system. Compassionate and caring, she was mystified when her staff didn’t jump on board with the changes. They told her, “We’re doing fine as we are.”
This is when Dr. Phoenix needed to assert her leadership, but she thought that in time employees would see the benefits of a modernized office. They didn’t. In fact, except for one employee, they all resigned. She hired three new people but continues to have problems. She called me.
I learned that Dr. Phoenix was a self-described “push over.” There are holes in her schedule. Her new hygienist is averaging two appointments per day. The Front Office employee who has been on board for three months says she is “too busy” to scan charts and make follow-up calls. Her Assistant is taking a leave of absence and does not treat the practice or her job as a priority. Dr. Phoenix is enrolled in Leadership 101. Our first ‘lesson’ was to get the team to the 8am morning huddle. After our first call she sent me the following email:
Good morning Dr. Haller,
I just wanted to let you know that morning huddle did not go well this morning. Suzy was late. So, I once again told my employees, “We start morning huddle at 8am sharp. Our office hours are 8 to 4.” I got, “I am sorry” again, and also “I was here at 7:45 and I expect to be paid for the time I work.” It was not good. I explained I am taking coaching to get the office operating the way I need to. Jane then had to leave; she had an issue and said she would return in 45 minutes. So that is where I am at right now. Any recommendations? I am dealing with a lot of attitude!!!
Here was my reply to Dr. Phoenix:
It is common that people will resist change…and that is what you are doing - changing into a more effective leader and team manager. Employees are going to give you ‘attitude’ because that has always worked in the past - you backed down. They are only doing what you taught them. Remember that your goal is to create a happier work environment for yourself and them, and for your patients. You are moving forward in order to have a highly successful business! And it is YOUR BUSINESS so you have every right to get cooperation. Visualize having that kind of office and practice because it will help you to handle this time of change and discomfort.
I strongly recommend that you stay strong and follow-through with the individual employee meetings. Hold those in private. Keep them brief - about 20 minutes. During that time you should address these key issues:1. You are aware that you have not been clear enough with your expectations nor have you followed through on matters that are very important for the smooth operation of a successful dental practice.
2. Apologize for any confusion, misunderstanding and/or hurt feelings that occurred as a result of your being inconsistent.
3. Remind each employee that you have started leadership coaching because you want to be a better boss…that you want to provide better direction and alignment for the team.
4. Emphasize that you are very interested in making the office/practice a wonderful place to work for them.
5. Kindly state that while you will do whatever you can to make it a great job for them, there will be changes and you ask for their cooperation.
6. Review job descriptions and agree on responsibilities.
7. Schedule another meeting to discuss their progress with agreed upon duties - I suggest 2 weeks.
My experience is that many doctors struggle with employee management. 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. Let me know if I can help. And I’ll keep you posted on Dr. Phoenix’s progress in future articles.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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