10.10.14 Issue #657 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Power Words for Effective Communication
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Dear Belle,
I have a problem. I am the Office Manager of a small practice and my duties include making hiring decisions and speaking with other employees about being late, taking time off, etc. I feel like no one takes me seriously and they go over my head to the doctor. How do I get the respect that I need?

Respect is earned, but it isn’t something you need in this situation. It is the position of authority that the other employees are questioning. You were put in a leadership position and you haven’t taken the role yet. It would be wise to take leadership and dental management courses, but first let’s look at what you say and how you say it. 

Weak language is apparent in your question above. By using “I feel” you are drawing the attention away from the real issue and making it about you. Your goals are to gain cooperation, to lead, to nurture and to persuade. Your language shows lack of confidence, hedging and dread in face-to-face encounters. People will not see you as an authority, or in this case an Office Manager, unless you improve your communication skills. As an Office Manager, it is important to remove the emotion of “I have a problem” from your communication and learn how to distance yourself to have improved stature and credibility.

Take, for example, communicating with an employee who is late: 
About you: “I noticed you were late again Becky.”
About the team: “The team has too much work to do and we need you to be on time.”
About the doctor: “Doctor is concerned that you are late again, Becky.”
About the issue: “The practice cannot operate without all team members here on time.”

As Office Manager, you will also be put in the situation of intervening when one employee is bossing or criticizing another. Here is an example of that communication:
About you: “I want you to stop criticizing the dental assistant.”
About the employee: “You are criticizing the dental assistant and it has to stop.”
About the team: “Everyone has noticed and has said you are criticizing the dental assistant”
About the issue: “Criticizing disturbs the entire team and must end.”

By distancing the emotion from the issue (removing the “I” and “you” from the statement), you are gaining credibility and objectivity. This distancing of emotion creates authority for the position.

Current written job descriptions for all employees and an updated office policy manual will help when communicating with non-compliant employees, as these establish rules and decorum that all must abide by. When conducting performance reviews of employees, it is important to stick to the facts and have date, time, parties involved and incident details in writing. Keep emotions in check by identifying the issue or problem and resolving it with tact.

When giving instructions to employees, examine the strength of your words and whether you are getting the results that you want. For instance, do you say to the Scheduling Coordinator, “I need the unscheduled treatment report on my desk by noon” or do you say, “Do you think you will get a chance to complete that unscheduled treatment report by noon?” The first statement is a direct request and the second is indirect and gives an out. The first statement is about “I need” instead of about the report. The best statement would be, “Please have the unscheduled treatment report on my desk by noon today, thank you.”

Not knowing what to say when the situation arises can quickly strip your confidence and diminish your authority. Writing scripts for anticipated scenarios takes the fluster and the “I forgot to mention that” out of the communication. Scripts give you confidence because they are planned and structured to get the response that you want.

McKenzie Management has the power tools to give you the confidence and authority of a great Office Manager. Our customized approach will enable you to achieve better communication through the power of words and systems that you and your practice need for success. Call today and get started with our Office Manager Business Training Program.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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