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12.5.08 Issue #352 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Team Leadership
Hygiene Consultant
Dentist Coach

Unlock Your Teamís Leadership Potential
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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In business it is often said that what got you to where you are today won't keep you there. As you well know, being an excellent clinician requires ongoing training and education; it doesn’t stop with your DDS, DMD or specialty degree. Moreover, not only are you responsible for providing quality care, you must also manage an entire team and monitor multiple systems.

Your staff looks to you for leadership and guidance, but too often dentists set themselves up not only as leaders but as the only people with answers. Do all eyes turn to you every time there is a question or problem? If so, you’ve placed a virtually impenetrable ceiling on practice potential. If individuals on the team are not encouraged to solve problems and demonstrate some measure of leadership themselves, personal and professional growth is stymied for everyone (including the doctor). But leadership doesn’t just happen—you have to cultivate it in your team.

To do that likely requires that you let go of some of the very beliefs and behaviors that enabled you to achieve success in the first place. Where you’ve been insisting on control you may now need to relinquish it to provide an opportunity for employees to step in. Everyone needs to be open to adopting new mindsets and skill sets. It requires changing and adapting in order to realize the vision that you have for your practice and it requires encouraging others to take risks and grow as professionals. That begins with taking an honest look at each person’s strengths and weaknesses.

Encourage everyone on your team to identify two or three of their greatest strengths and weaknesses. Ask them to work with each other as they do this and to gather feedback from others on the team who will be honest and constructive.

Next, ask each member of the team to identify the three or four critical activities that are essential for personal success. If Joelle the assistant’s critical responsibilities are communicating with patients, turning over rooms and anticipating the doctor’s requests during procedures but she is routinely interrupted with questions from the newly hired business employees, she cannot excel in her critical activities. Consequently, she cannot grow as a leader in this area of the practice. Identify the tasks, procedures, weakened systems and lack of training that hamper the team members’ individual leadership abilities.

Insist that employees lead each other by example. Individuals seldom realize how their actions affect the behaviors of their teammates. Employees both consciously and subconsciously look to each other for positive or negative behavior examples. If one person continually blames others when things go wrong, so too will others on staff. If one employee routinely comes in late, others will be more likely to do the same. Negative behaviors unravel leadership potential. Don’t ignore them; address them.

Cultivate a leadership mindset. Ask your team to consider what they would do if they were the ultimate decision maker. Urge them to make recommendations that will benefit the practice’s overall performance, even when it means changing the way they do things. Insist that they speak up even when expressing unpopular views. Hold your own thoughts until others have voiced their opinions. The boss’s words can instantly blanket the room in stifling silence. Never put down a team member’s opinion. Even if you disagree with someone’s suggestion or recommendation, try to build on it rather than knock it down. Embarrassment will shut down the flow of ideas immediately. Dissenting opinions and different ways of looking at problems to identify solutions are critical. Playing it safe could cost the practice patients, profits and, eventually, staff.

Support your team in their efforts to use their creative problem-solving skills to develop best practices for serving patients and moving the overall goals and objectives forward. Use experience to teach and use failure to coach. Teams must be given the chance to learn from their mistakes or they will never have the courage to lead in their areas. Don’t let the ghosts of former failures haunt you or your team. An idea that was ahead of its time two years ago but which failed may be exactly what you’re looking for today.

Finally, get out of the way and let your team members take ownership and leadership of their areas.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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Team Building Event of the Year!


Angie Stone RDH, BS
Consultant
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Hygienists, Are You Stagnant or Stellar?

Which one of these words best describes you as a dental hygienist? “Stagnant” is defined as follows: characterized by lack of development, advancement or progressive movement; inactive, sluggish or dull. In contrast, “stellar” refers to a preeminent performer. Although the hope is that the chosen word is stellar, the truth may be that the word you chose is stagnant. How then can a hygienist go from stagnant to stellar?

There are many reasons a hygienist may be stagnant. One of the biggest reasons is complacency in the role as an important health care provider, which can manifest in reluctantly accepting the role of the “cleaning person.” Why the complacency? Maybe a loss of interest in the profession. Maybe a hygienist hasn’t gotten the needed nourishment or support from the employer. Maybe he hasn’t taken responsibility for the development of his professional life. Whatever the reason, the cycle needs to be broken if there is going to be success in the hygiene department. And in order to break the cycle, the dentist and hygienist need to work together.

The “cleaning person” mentality needs to be debunked and there needs to be a renewed commitment to patients and profession. The profession of dental hygiene is about more than providing prophys. Dental hygienists have the opportunity to change the lives of patients by detecting periodontal disease. Detection of this disease can improve patients’ oral and systemic health, as well as their quality of life. In addition, by doing periodic blood pressure screenings, hygienists can detect high blood pressure (which can also potentially save a life). Hygienists can assist patients in stopping the use of tobacco through the “Ask, Advise, Refer” Program. This too can be life changing. However, if the hygienist is focused only on scaling and polishing, the opportunity to detect these other issues is lost. Hygienists must be proactive in helping patients improve both oral and systemic health.

This is not easy to achieve. It takes time, effort and constant thought to be a stellar hygienist. It is much easier to be stagnant. In order for the hygienist to be in the stellar category, there needs to be ongoing continuing education in order to keep up with the rapidly changing world of dental hygiene. Effort needs to be put into incorporating new hygiene concepts into the dental practice and introduce them to the dentist and the team. There are many other measures that can be taken, but beginning with these two items can help start the process of going from stagnant to stellar.

The dentist can contribute to this transformation as well. Even though dentists may have concerns about the performance of their hygienists, there are typically no job descriptions in place for them. The assumption is that the hygienist will clean teeth. When this is the only thing a hygienist does, the dentist may become disenchanted with her performance. Having a job description that details what exactly is expected of the hygienist, including how much continuing education she should take annually, what her production is expected to be and what she is expected to bring to the hygiene department/team, will derail the complacency of the “cleaning person” mentality. In order to ensure employment, she will be required to comply with the job description, thereby keeping up to date with current hygiene strategies. If the hygienist is not performing to the job description, this can then be discussed and hopefully turned around. Without a job description, no one has any idea what (other than cleaning teeth) is actually expected of the hygienist.

A dentist can also improve the performance of a hygienist by supporting and directing his efforts. If the hygienist brings something new to the table, the dentist can encourage this behavior by listening to ideas and considering what is said. (This does not mean that all ideas need to be accepted.) It is important that the dentist provide an environment conducive to development and advancement of the hygienist’s career. This is probably the most important thing the dentist can do to ensure getting the performance of a stellar hygienist instead of a stagnant one.

Need help with implementing new systems in your hygiene department to ensure stellar performance? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Angie speak to your study group or at your next seminar? Click here.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Build A Stronger Team Through Conflict

With so much negative media, it’s no wonder that we fear conflict. However, the real problem isn’t conflict. It’s when we ignore conflict and let it build that disagreements between people escalate into battles.

Considering the cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and even psychological diversity in the world (and in your office), it’s no surprise that people see things differently. Diversity is strength, if those differences are managed constructively. Conflict becomes destructive when it takes attention away from important activities, undermines morale, polarizes people and groups, and leads to irresponsible or harmful behaviors.

Early indicators of conflict are recognizable, and there are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work. In other words, although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved. A good way to begin chipping away at the conflict in your team is for you and your employees to identify your styles of dealing with conflict. Encourage employees to answer these 15 questions on their own, and then discuss the results in a staff meeting.

For each statement below, mark the number that is most accurate, from 1 (rarely) to 5 (always).

1. I argue my case with my team members to show the merits of my position.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

2. I negotiate with my team members so that a compromise can be reached.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

3. I try to satisfy the expectations of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

4. I try to investigate an issue with my team members to find a solution acceptable to all of us.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

5. I am firm in pursuing my side of the issue.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

6. I attempt to avoid being put on the spot and try to keep my conflict with team members to myself.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

7. I hold onto my solution to a problem.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

8. I use "give and take" so that a compromise can be reached.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

9. I exchange accurate information with my team members so we can solve a problem together.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

10. I avoid open discussion of my differences with my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

11. I accommodate the wishes of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

12. I try to bring all our concerns out in the open so that the issues can be resolved in the best possible way.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

13. I propose a middle ground for breaking deadlocks.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

14. I go along with the suggestions of my team members.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

15. I try to keep my disagreements with my team members to myself to avoid hard feelings.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

Write your scores next to the number for that statement. Then total up the columns. Your primary conflict style is the category with the highest total. Your secondary style is the category with the next highest total.

 

Style A

Style B

Style C

Style D

Style E

 

 6.__

1.__

 3.__

 2.__

 4.__

 

10.__

5.__

11.__

 8.__

 9.__

 

15.__

7.__

14.__

13.__

12.__

Totals

____

____

____

____

____

Here’s what the scores suggest:
If you are Style A, you use Avoiding. It is likely that you tell yourself that it’s not worth the effort to argue, but conflicts worsen over time. Stop being a turtle or an ostrich. Get out of your shell and take your head out of the sand: Learn to be assertive.

If you are Style B, you are Accommodating. You tend to give in to others, sometimes to the extent that you compromise yourself. Conflict worsens over time, which causes conflict within you because there is an element of self-sacrifice in this approach.

If you are Style C, you are relying on Competing as a conflict strategy. You try to get your way, rather than to clarify and address issues. Competitors love accommodators. Although conflicts seem minimal on the surface, turnover and negativity are likely in the team.

If you are Style D, you are Compromising. You use a mutual give-and-take process to resolve conflict. This is most effective if two people both want exactly the same thing and it can be divided up or shared. Otherwise it’s better to work a little longer to find a mutually pleasing solution.

If you are Style E, you are a Collaborator. Congratulations! You try to get everyone working together, meeting as many current needs as possible. In all likelihood, you cultivate ownership and loyalty.

Strive to develop a collaborating culture in your office. Encourage everyone on your team to acknowledge, deal with and appreciate their differences and disagreements. Address conflict up front. It will lead to more open communication, higher productivity and increased professional and financial success for everyone.

If you would like to improve your ability—or your team’s ability—to manage conflict constructively, contact Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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