08.11.06 - Issue # 231 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Good Boss or Bad Boss? Find Out
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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So you’re the Boss. It’s not exactly an enviable position. After all, you have to be chief production officer, human resources expert, interpersonal relations guru, and while you’re at it, you also have to lead, inspire, motivate, reward, and discipline. Oh the joys of being in charge.

With all of the responsibility associated with being the Big Kahuna how do you know if you’re a good or bad boss and why should you care? Staff turnover is probably one of the clearest indicators. If yours is a revolving door team, chances are that you’re not exactly an easy person to work for. And putting an end to constant turnover in the practice is reason enough to care about your skills as a boss.

Improving your leadership abilities enables you to build a much more cohesive and successful team. Not that you have to be Dr. Pushover, in fact, most effective bosses are solid “tough love” supervisors. They provide clear guidelines, necessary training, plenty of praise, and corrective measures when necessary.

Answer a few questions and determine if you can be counted among the “good bosses.” 

Do you create an environment and a culture for success? If so, you set clear, challenging goals and specific expectations for your team. You explain the “why” behind the “what.” In other words, you don’t just tell employees what to do but you clarify why their responsibilities are important to the overall success of the practice. You monitor the team’s progress in achieving goals through regular staff meetings, system checks, and performance reviews. You celebrate and reward success.

Do you set your employees up to succeed? If so, you work with individuals and the team as a whole to define realistic goals that encourage the team to work at peak performance. You also invest in training for employees to maximize their potential.

Do you establish clear standards? If so, there is a code of conduct in the office, specific office policies, and business standards that everyone must follow.  

Do you communicate clearly and specifically? If so, you don’t make general comments about an issue and assume that someone will just pick up the ball and run with it. You recognize that if you don’t communicate your desires clearly no one can be held responsible except you when those desires aren’t met.

Are you decisive? If so, you make the decisions that have to be made, even when they are difficult. Too many dentists will hold off on critical decisions, such as firing an employee who is bringing down both the team and the practice. They want more time to study, to evaluate, to consider. Certainly, a major decision such as terminating a staff member requires careful evaluation, but too often the doctor simply continues to look the other way burdening the team and compromising the practice. As the owner of the practice the team depends on you to make the tough decisions.

Is listening a part of your management strategy? If so, you seek input from the team. The good boss realizes he/she doesn’t have all the answers just because her/his name is on the front door. Your practice culture should welcome and encourage open communication – bad news as well as good news. Listen and learn from your employees, encourage their input and use the collective intelligence of the group to address system problems and concerns.

Are you honest with your team and do you provide ongoing constructive feedback? Feedback is the pixie dust of your practice creating high performance magic. Be generous with your positive feedback, ensure that it is sincere and, if possible, given in front of others. Be constructive with your negative feedback. Provide it in private and use it as a precise instructional tool in which you are carefully carving out your perfect employee, not as a hammer in which you’re going to smash both the problem and the employee’s self esteem to smithereens. Don’t mix positive and negative feedback. The employee will only focus on the negative and the positive will mean nothing.

Like dentistry, supervision is hard work. Becoming a good boss requires that you are conscious of your behaviors, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you relate to each member of your team. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to evaluate yourself as a boss. Answer the question, would you have wanted to work for you today? 

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns?  Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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