Why Should a Dentist Hire a Coach?
You’ve heard the term ‘coach’ before. If you grew up playing sports, you had a coach. He or she was there with the team. That person didn’t play in the game but helped you and your teammates improve the way you played. The coach challenged you to do things differently, to be better.
Similarly, leadership coaching is designed to help individuals and teams get out of their comfort zone…to make changes and reach new levels of achievement.
Not so long ago, there was a stigma attached to working with a coach. In corporate circles, coaching was seen as a last ditch effort to fix a problem manager or executive. That perception has changed. In the business arena, having a coach now means that you are ‘high potential’ and the company is willing to invest significant dollars in developing your skill set. It is likely you will be promoted.
Unfortunately that new perspective on coaching has not spread into the dental world. While curious, dentists for the most part are skeptical of working with a coach. The presumption is that the “patient” has something wrong with him/her and the coach’s job is to “fix” them. But that is not the purpose or goal of coaching.
From the viewpoint of corporate leaders and shareholders, the real reason that organizations use coaching is to improve business results. Whether it is increasing customer loyalty, retaining valuable employees, or managing the change that is inherent in business today, coaching enables leaders to impact bottom-line benefits - growth in revenues and profits.
So too, in the dental world, running a practice is complex. Competition, declining labor pools, diverse employees, and demanding patient populations require a much more extensive interpersonal skill set if you are going to succeed.
One of the primary benefits in coaching is the ability to step back and get a new PERSPECTIVE. This only occurs when you have OBJECTIVITY. This comes from not being too emotionally involved in what is happening. Once you gain access to those processes, you will find solutions to issues that never seemed obvious before.
Here are a few examples of the coaching clients with whom I have worked.
Dr. A. was being held ‘hostage’ by his seven year employee, Jessica. She had good relationships with patients and strong collection skills, but she was repeatedly disrespectful and defensive toward the doctor. There were no indications of her willingness to change, even with written performance appraisals. Through coaching Dr. A became more assertive. He searched for another front office staff then asked for Jessica’s resignation. The morale of the team improved and Dr. A enjoys going to work again.
Dr. B was a cosmetic dentist with an abundance of patient inquiries but a low conversion rate. She recognized the importance of establishing rapport with patients but noted that a deterrent was her drive to be efficient in office – i.e. not listening enough and being too task-oriented. Coaching helped to broaden her communication skills in order identify emotional motivators. By improving her ability to build relationships with patients from the get-go, she is more successful in selling her services.
Despite many years in practice, Dr. C still struggled with a fear of going broke. There was insidious erosion in his confidence level. The coaching goal was to be more resilient in his thinking. We worked on modifying ‘what if I can’t pay the bills’ to ‘how will I build a million dollar practice’. Last we talked, Dr. C. was well on his way.
Drs. D and E have a successful practice, mutual admiration for one another, and matching values. However differences in age, gender, background, and styles have lead to significant disruptions in the office and with staff. Both were committed to improving the way they interact and lead the practice. Coaching helped them to establish a structure for conversations and rules for how to engage with one another.
Coaching is really about doing things differently, about honing your abilities to the utmost.
Dr. Haller can be reached at email@example.com. Contact her to find out how you can develop your leadership skills and grow your practice.
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