Take Timeout: Another Lesson from Team Oracle
Yes, I'm still enamored with the America's Cup Race. In my last article I wrote about the resiliency of Jimmy Spithall and Team Oracle. The post regatta analyses have been equally remarkable and so very, very relevant to you and your dental team. As you will recall, the Oracle team was down 8-1, with Team New Zealand only one win away from taking it all. In the final race, even with a three-second deficit at the start - which previously predicted another loss - Oracle won by 44 seconds. Just what did they do to pull that off? They took time out to learn.
During the first week of America's Cup racing, the Oracle team called a timeout to reassess its racing strategy. In particular, the racing team had to rethink its upwind race leg where Oracle was being conservative and the New Zealand team was taking risks. Each night they made much-needed adjustments to the strategy and tactics. The victory wasn’t due to one thing but to a series of small improvements adding up to big increases on the upwind leg.
How often do you call a "time out" to assess what’s going on, to train your team? Or do you get caught up in challenging situations and just keep forging ahead blindly, continuing to do what isn’t working? Like the Oracle team, you have a lot of technology at your disposal. The question is, are you making the time for your team to learn, to improve?
Your employees are an investment. From small businesses to large corporations, people are the most valuable resource of any organization. In Fortune 500 companies, employees are now referred to as ‘human capital’ and they are typically the greatest untapped resource of any business! Stop worrying about how much it costs to train employees and start realizing how much untrained employees could cost you!
A culture of continuous improvement is one in which individuals are growing, learning and contributing to the overall goal. Schedule a special staff meeting to talk about the ‘big picture’ - what you want for your practice. Set the standard for continual learning by sharing your own strengths as well as your needs for improvement. It’s likely that your staff already know what you’re good at and what you need to do better. By verbalizing it you model courage and inspire growth.
Explain to everyone why they matter. Employees need to know that their contributions make a difference. Their ideas, questions and thoughts are all important contributions that can potentially generate new and more productive ways of doing things.
Provide encouragement. Praise staff members when they show progress in the mastery of a specific skill. This is especially important when they have worked hard to learn and improve.
Allow room for experimentation and mistakes. People learn through a process of trial and error. Let your team know that excellence is the ultimate goal and that achieving it may involve experimentation and imperfection. Case in point, the performance of Team Oracle - it took many races and defeats before they identified how to win.
Continuous development requires advancement in knowledge and skills. Schedule ongoing training sessions. Identify the individual skills required for continuous improvement and provide opportunities for employees to strengthen those skills. Training sessions may take place daily, weekly or periodically, depending on the particular skill. Be prepared to answer questions. As people learn new information, make yourself available for guidance and feedback.
‘Winning’ is about inspiring your team to give their best effort. It’s tough work unifying individuals into a cohesive group. It takes time, coordination, and consistency. It takes planning and preparation. Add to the equation personalities and conflicting goals or ideals, and it becomes even more problematic to find a team of people that work well together - let alone on the fly at a moment’s notice. Oracle chose to be the master of their circumstances and not a victim. Ask them if it’s worth it. Ask them if it’s rewarding. You know the answer.
Dr. Nancy Haller is available to coach you and your staff to higher levels of performance. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.orgInterested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here
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