Last week's bombings in London reminded me of the unsettling times in which we live. I was stopped in my tracks when I heard the news, stunned again by another senseless tragedy. In the days that followed, I have had to encourage myself to avoid getting swept up in the mentality of what's wrong with the world.
Your office may not be a war zone but I'm sure that many of you feel like you're going to battle each day. You just want to do your dentistry but you're forced to handle employee issues – tension between two hygienists, tardiness by your front office staff on your busiest day, inefficiency by your dental assistant.
There are innumerous ways that employees can annoy and disappoint you. In fact, you can find problems everywhere if you look for them. If you aren't careful, it can all seem insurmountable . And the more you think – and talk - about what a drudge it all is, the more it becomes a reality.
But what if you stopped to consider the possibilities ? How would you like your practice to be? Think back to a time when it was that way, even for just one special day. What might happen if you started talking about that vision?
Appreciate Leadership (A.L.) is an emerging area of organizational development designed to build efficient and productive workforces. It is a social constructionist model. The theory states that employees and their leaders create reality through their interpretations and conversations about the world . By talking about stories of strength and potential, solutions are crafted.
1. Invite your employees to recall a day when they felt that things were going well . It's essential that you ask the right question. As an example, if you want to improve patient service and satisfaction, you could take a traditional approach – ‘What can we do to minimize complaints?' However, the better question is, ‘When have patients been pleased with us, and what can we learn from those moments of success?'
2. Hold a staff meeting and swap stories . Be detailed. Pay attention to the excitement that is generated as you and your employees tell and hear each others' stories. Get everyone involved in a conversation about what they were good at and the outcome of those positive efforts.
3. Note the common themes in the stories. Explore the ingredients that made those ‘high moments'. This is not the same as picking the ‘best' story. The purpose of this step in the A.L. process is to identify the factors that are consistently present in those moments of success. It is important that you involve all your staff in finding those elements.
4. Build on the momentum of the energy created in Step Three. With your staff, articulate the dream. What will it be like when those ‘high points' are present every day? Together, craft a collective vision of the future. This is a good time to write your practice mission statement. Have it printed. Post it throughout the office.
5. Create the future. What are the circumstances that will allow you and your team to repeat those elements of success every day? Encourage creative brainstorming with someone taking notes. Be specific about the action steps that each person will take to achieve the desired result.
What we focus on becomes our reality. If you want a different workplace, stop talking about problems and start visioning possibilities. Make your focus achievement and joy, not problems and distress. The outcome is energy and success. Pay attention to what your employees are doing right. Pay attention to what's working. Pay attention to what's right in your world.
If you would like assistance in creating deeply satisfying practice results, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org