Would Your Team Hire You or Fire You?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Just when the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, had all but disappeared into obscurity and Dabney Coleman’s sexist, egotistical character, Mr. Hart, from the classic flick Nine to Five had been retired to the cinema vaults, in walks Miranda Priestly. She’s the boss you love to hate in the recently released movie The Devil Wears Prada. Low and behold, boss-bashing is back in style.
Contests are running in newspapers looking for the juiciest bad boss tale. Even the AFL-CIO challenged abused employees everywhere to share their best bad boss story for prize money. An entire website is devoted to helping employees cope with bad bosses. Unfortunately, there is plenty of coping to be done, as there is no shortage of bosses characterized by their employees as just plain bad.
A 2004 survey conducted by badbossology.com revealed that many people with difficult bosses would fire them versus taking less drastic action. In fact, 48% said they would fire their boss if they could, 29% would have their boss assessed by a workplace psychologist, and 23% would send their boss for management training. Some management experts assert that at least 55% of managers in America are incompetent. And in dentistry where practitioners are trained to be excellent clinicians and typically must learn their leadership and management skills from the school of hard knocks, it’s easy to understand why many struggle when it comes to the role of “boss.”
What type of boss are you? Good? Bad? Depends on the day? Not sure?
Step back and honestly consider this question: Would you want to work for you? While most bosses bring a host of both positive and negative qualities, when it comes to “bad bosses,” the negatives far outweigh the positives.
The “hands-on” boss, more aptly described as controlling, cannot restrain him/herself from becoming involved in even the most insignificant details of the practice. Members of his/her team can make very few decisions without his/her input. If the hygienist is ordering a supply of flavored topical fluorides, Dr. Total Control has to see the order form to make sure Screamin’ Strawberry is on the list.
Delegating is virtually impossible for him/her. This boss can’t even allow the assistant to explain post operative procedures. Rather than guiding his/her team and helping them to problem solve independently he/she simply takes over. However, as much as he/she must have control, decision-making is not his/her strength. In fact, most of civilization evolved in less time than it takes him/her to choose between option A and option B. He/She’s so afraid of making the wrong decision that he/she becomes trapped in a state of paralysis of analysis.
Then there’s the perfectionist boss. No one can meet Dr. Perfectionist’s standards. Highly obsessive, Dr. Perfectionist is convinced that he/she is the only competent person in the practice. Chances are very good that he/she is also highly controlling, but unlike Dr. Total Control, this doctor knows exactly what he/she wants, when he/she wants it, and how he/she wants it.
Dr. Perfectionist will not seek staff input in resolving problems. No, no, no. He/She feels that all practice decisions really must be made by him/her. He/She will tell staff exactly how any given issue should be addressed, and if Dr. Perfectionist is wrong, don’t expect any acknowledgement of that mistake. As you might expect, this doctor isn’t particularly good at giving positive or constructive feedback to employees either.
There’s also the “I want them to like me” boss, better known as Dr. Spineless. He/She means well, really. When a problem arises, he/she waits for it to disappear on its own for fear that addressing it could result in hurt feelings. If one member of the team is routinely coming in late, he/she’s making excuses for him/her even though it’s affecting the entire practice. If another member is not providing necessary reports for monthly meetings, he/she’s quick to say, “No problem, we’ll just cover it next time.” Next time never comes.
And you can forget constructive feedback, if performance reviews are even conducted they are so smothered in sugar no one really takes them seriously. No spine in the doctor, no accountability in the team.
There’s also the blamer, the screamer, the backstabber, and the politician, to name a few more. And then there is the boss that all leaders should strive to become: the team builder. Next week maximize your strengths to become a true team builder boss.
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