Sally McKenzies e-Management newsletter
Consulting Products Past Issues Library Seminars Training
12.7.07 Issue #300 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
Printer Friendly Version

Case of the Tail Wagging the Dog

That’s how Dr. Peterson (not his real name) described his office environment. He said, “It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog”. Here’s what else he told me.

His employees aren't working to their full capabilities. He asks them to do things but they don’t. They argue with him when he brings things up at the monthly meetings. The hygienist said she was taking off two days next week. Mind you, she didn’t ask him, she told him. And she did it in front of other employees so he would be intimidated and pressured to say "okay", which he did. One of the assistants comes in at least 10 minutes late every day and the two front office employees are demanding that they get help.

Dr. Peterson dreads going into the office. No kidding! Who would enjoy going to work being intimidated every day by employees, convinced that if you don't meet their demands they will start looking for another job?

It’s plain to see that Dr. Peterson’s practice is akin to a ship without a captain. He’s disengaged from his staff and he’s trapped in a reward system that is fiscally impractical. Furthermore, his employees have more influence over Dr. Peterson than he has of them. It’s time for him to step up and show some leadership accountability.

To be a successful dental leader you need to accept responsibility for the climate in which you ask people to work. It means creating a practice atmosphere that is professional yet enjoyable. It begins with modeling more explicitly the kind of environment you want.

How responsible are you? Does it depend on the situation or are you always ready to accept accountability for your decisions and behaviors?

On a scale of 1-5, with 1 representing "Never" and 5 representing "Always," rank yourself on each of these characteristics of responsibility.

  1. I communicate frequently and accurately with my staff.
  2. If I don't understand something, I seek out information.
  3. I own my own problems and circumstances.
  4. When I make a mistake, I admit it.
  5. I am proactive, often taking the initiative.
  6. I ask for the things I need.
  7. I analyze my actions and ask, "How is this contributing to my practice goals?" and “What more can I do?”
  8. I welcome feedback.
  9. I model responsibility for my employees.
  10. 10. I readily address conflicts in the office.

The higher your score the better. More important than the overall total, take a second look at the items you ranked lowest. What will you do to become more accountable in those areas?

Responsibility is an old fashioned idea that says you are answerable for your actions - and inactions. Being a leader means the responsibility of service to others – the people who follow you.

Leadership is about influencing others and shaping their behaviors toward constructive outcomes. Leaders must advance change, take risks and accept responsibility for making things happen.

Everybody on your team is an ambassador. Be sure to make them a positive representative. Schedule individual conversations with each of your employees. Find out what’s important to them. What do they enjoy about their work? What frustrates them?

Avoid a ‘fix-it’ mentality, especially in the first meeting. The purpose of your dialogue is exploration and discovery. You don’t have to be a problem-solver as much as a patient listener. You can help them to find solutions in subsequent conversations.

By creating an ‘influence plan’ with them and showing interest in their development, you maximize retention and performance. Investing in your staff yields bottom-line dividends. Learn to diagnose the sources of influence that are responsible for your employees’ behavior…and get the dog wagging the tail.

Would you like to elevate your practice? Invest in yourself and become a more effective leader.  Inquire about Dr. Haller’s Leadership Training Course  1.877.777.6151 Ext. 21.

Forward this article to a friend

McKenzie Newsletter Information:
To unsubscribe:
To discontinue receiving the Sally McKenzie eManagment newsletter,
click on the link at the very bottom of this page for instant removal,
To report technical problems with this newsletter or to request technical help,
please send a descriptive email to:
To request services, products or general inquires about The McKenzie Company activities
please send a descriptive email to:
If you would like to have any of your dental practice concerns answered personally by Sally McKenzie,
please send a descriptive email to her at:
Copyrights 1980-Present The McKenzie Company - All Rights Reserved.