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1.9.09 Issue #357 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Do You Meet Your Team's Clinical Expectations?

Dr. Joe Griffin – Case Study #146

As a part of practice management consulting, consultants find themselves with “sensitive” information shared to them by the team about their employer and by the employer about the team. These unresolved issues can and often create conflict in the practice. 

For Dr. Griffin there were two situations causing conflict in his practice:

  • The team would “question” his treatment but not discuss their concerns with him. Instead, they talked among themselves at lunch about what they would see or hear…and this gossip was not positive.
  • Dr. Griffin was unhappy with the performance of his assistants and hygienists but they were unaware of his expectations.

None of the team was willing to share their clinical concerns with Dr. Griffin. Dr. Griffin did not want to take the time or be direct about his expectations. His pent up frustrations eventually boiled over in a tirade.

Don’t assume that your clinical team knows what you know. Years of experience in the field does not always equate to the level of knowledge you need. Due to the differing temperament types of employees, many assistants and hygienists are non-confrontational and are hesitant to inquire about questioned treatment rendered.  As a result, they formulate their own opinions about what they see-right or wrong.

 Train your team to see what you see and why you formulate your treatment plans and deliver your treatment as you do. If you are thinking, “Why do I need to explain anything to my team?  It is this mentality that creates the stress in your office and breaks down teamwork. Once a month, during the scheduled team meeting, dedicate 10 minutes to discussing a treatment case with your team.  Explain what was done and why.

In addition, when you implement new technology, new techniques and new materials, educate your team as to what you expect from them in order to perform this new procedure.

Doctor - Express Expectations

As you work with your team, clinical and business, there are times when you witness a behavior that is not acceptable. It is important that you discuss your concern with him/her privately. It is not effective to disclose your observation at the morning meeting to the group because the person that you need to address may not recognize that you are directing it to them.  Afterward, if you feel that it would be helpful to share the information with the team, do so, without mentioning names. Employees do not like to be “singled out”, as they find it embarrassing and hurtful. If you continue to operate with your “head in the sand” the behavior will be repeated until the situation creates an emotional tirade from you, the frustrated dentist.

The Team Should Ask Questions

 In order for your team members to feel comfortable asking questions, you must encourage them to do so. You should see the question as an opportunity to educate not as a personal criticism.

Here is an example of some dialogue:  “Dr. Griffin, I noticed during the procedure with Mrs. Jones that you did_____________.  So I can have a better understanding of why you did that, would you explain it to me?”  Dr. Griffin’s response would be, “Mary that is a great question.  Let me explain.”

If you don’t have a format in which your team members can ask questions without reprimand, you will be the hot topic at the lunch table. “You are not going to believe what I saw Dr. Griffin do this morning with Mrs. Jones.  Can you believe this_____________?”  And the conversation goes downhill from there.

The delivery of dentistry frequently changes. Attending CE courses yearly maintains your level of excellence. How many of these courses are attended by your clinical team?  It is your responsibility to relay what you learn to your assistants and hygienists (and business team when applicable) so you and your team are always “on the same page”.

If you want a strong, supportive, educated team, invite them to learn more and expand their knowledge of dentistry. Your patients will notice a difference. How nice is it to hear from your patient, “Gee Dr Griffin, you and Suzie work so well together. You don’t even have to talk to one other. She just seems to know what you need.”

Knowledge is power.  Share your knowledge and encourage your team to ask questions so they can increase their power.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email

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