Playing the Blame Game in Your Practice?
In the process of business management training, the discussion of what kind of leadership role the dentist CEO takes is critical to the success of the practice. Some dentist CEOs take responsibility for their decisions and actions, and some do not. Some accurately and fairly determine responsibility for problems and mistakes and make the corrections, and some do not. Dodging issues that seem confrontational or controversial is the mode of many dentists when things go wrong. Others take the response of blaming a member of the team or the entire team when there are mistakes. Often the Dental Business Manager will be held responsible for the outcome of this dilemma.
Fostering an environment where team members can step up and take responsibility for their mistakes and repair them without drama and guilt is the healthy way to manage a practice. Mistakes will be made. Identifying whether it is a broken system, an untrained team member or the work of carelessness by someone who knows the difference should be researched before any action is taken. The boss who rarely is the blamer or the boss who uses blame as an integral management style often will determine the outcome of the situation. Usually there is low staff morale in the latter of the two bosses.
As a business manager, your first action is to calmly collect the facts. This action will calm the boss who is wanting to blame and reprimand immediately. Assure the boss that you will meet with him/her with the facts so that you can resolve the problem correctly.
Getting the facts is not always easy and sometimes a decision has to be focused on the events or system, rather than the person. Team members have learned to “blame” as part of a defense mechanism, so approaching them with a question like “How can we prevent this from happening in the future?” Instead of “Why did YOU do this?” is recommended.
A habitual blamer boss will shift the responsibility from him/herself to you or someone else because the “shift” is the focus, not the facts. To prepare for this, offer a willingness to take the responsibility, not the blame. Whether the problem has been determined to be a faulty system or a negligent team member, you the manager are willing to work to resolve the problem.
Here is a sample script to practice communicating with the boss:
Dr. Blame: “I thought we talked about this at the last meeting? I am tired of this same issue over and over. Do you think I am made of money? My overhead is through the roof here.”
Betty Manager: “Dr. Blame, I have the notes from the last meeting and this issue was not discussed. This is the first I have heard. Please give me all of the details so that we can solve this problem immediately.”
Dr. Blame: “What are you talking about, this cannot be the first time you have heard this issue. Where have you been all this time?
Betty Manager: “I have been right here, but I have not had the facts and you have been trying to deal with the issue yourself. What I am saying is after I get the entire story and the facts, I am willing to solve this problem.”
Dr. Blame: “I don’t know if I can trust that this problem will be solved unless I handle it my way.”
Betty Manager: “I completely understand, Dr. Blame, all I can do is my best and I am confident that once I know the facts, I will be able to correct the problem. Let’s go over the details together and work out a solution.”
The next step for the business manager, once all the facts are in, is to make the resolution of the problem top priority for her/his work day. If the situation looks to be one that will require more than a day, make sure to communicate an accurate timeline to the boss or you will be setting yourself up for another “blame game” scenario. Work the solving of the problem into the task list for that day. Don’t say to yourself that you will work on it after other tasks are completed, because you will end up with no time left at the end of the day. Delegate some of your tasks to other team members if you can so that you have real time to solve the problem at hand.
Sharpen your business management skills by signing up for one of McKenzie Management’s Business Training Courses today.
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