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12.02.05 Issue #195  
Doing the Right Thing and Getting Results!

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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Dear Coach,

I’m trying to ‘do the right thing’ from a management perspective – to counsel and develop employee relationships - but I keep losing substantially, income and emotion.  I keep thinking about my old retail supervisor – he was tough, told people he was tough up front, they could get on board or transfer to another department. He was one of the most successful people with the most loyal employees. I really wish that strategy worked today. Do straight shooters ever get ahead now-a-days?  

Yes, straight shooters certainly do win. Direct communication is an essential skill for dental leadership. A successful practice means dealing with problem employees firmly and in a timely manner. Successful dental leaders also need to make negative decisions when all other options fail. Dealing effectively with troubled staff is a leadership job requirement.

Keep in mind that it’s not only ‘what’ you say but ‘how’ you say it that impacts outcome. The smaller the gap between ‘intention’ and ‘impact’ the more constructive your message will be.

Intention is the purpose or goal of your communication. It is the essence of what you want to tell someone else. The impact of that message is based on ‘how’ you express the information. And it is the impact more than the intention that gets results.

It sounds to me that you have been living under a cloud of frustration and fear. That is likely to widen the gap between intention and impact. The biggest challenge in communication comes when you are under stress, when you have unmet expectations. If you try to talk in the heat of the moment, you are likely to say things that you later regret. The message gets lost in emotion.

To increase the likelihood that your intention matches your impact:

1. Clean your ‘filter.

Just like routine maintenance on your car, take time for self-reflection  Leaders first and foremost need to examine themselves…how they think, behave, impact others. Your message passes through a filter, just like the oil in your car’s engine. If the filter is clogged with debris, the communication outcome is dirty too.

2. Be a straight shooter but don’t shoot from the hip.

Think through the main idea you want to express. Prepare and plan how you want the exchange to go. Organize supporting thoughts or facts so that they lead to your main point. By being concise and clear you increase the likelihood that you have a positive impact and your message will be heard.

3. Keep the balance between positive and negative feedback 3-to-1.

Feedback is designed to tell people when they are ‘on course’. Being tough is as vital as being appreciative. Catch employees doing things right. Let them know you noticed. Give value to that behavior by linking it to the overall mission of your practice. Even when you need to voice negative feedback, start the conversation by identifying three behaviors you appreciate about the person. Then define the one area where there is room for improvement. Be calm and objective.

4. Ask employees to give you feedback.

Create a culture of feedback. Negotiate.  Ask your staff to rate you on what you are doing well, what you could do more frequently, and what you should stop doing. By requesting their input, you build a “win-win” atmosphere.  As you listen to their feedback, remain non-judgmental.  Show concern and avoid interrupting.  Paraphrase what they have said if you need clarification, or simply to confirm understanding.

By integrating intention and impact, you will harmonize your interactions and create a more positive environment in which to work. People won’t remember whatyou said as much as how you made them feel.

Dr. Haller can be reached at  Dr. Haller provides Executive Coaching for McKenzie Management and conducts one-on-one leadership training.

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