Get Your Team Onboard
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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You’ve got goals, you’ve got objectives, and you’ve got just a few more months to implement them. Yes, the calendar has turned and we are closing in on summer. Time for vacations, hot weather, and long days. It’s also a great opportunity to look at where you are in reaching your practice objectives and take concrete steps to achieve those goals before the second half of the year sweeps past.
Make this the summer that you go after the great opportunities in your practice, starting with your team. Why the team? Because no matter how important, necessary, or critical achieving your goals and objectives may be to you, you’re not going to do it without the help of that group of people you face every day when you walk through the door.
Most likely, you have employees who, individually, are hardworking, knowledgeable, and dedicated. They work together under the same roof for 8-10 hours a day, but you can’t really call them a team. They simply don’t know how to function as effectively as you need them to as a group. Consequently, your practice goals, objectives, and dreams too often take a back seat to conflict, turf wars, and pettiness.
It’s not that this group of individuals can’t become a highly functioning team, it’s more that they need to be led in that direction. They simply don’t know how to establish team goals or how to identify the strategies to achieve those goals. And they are looking to you to show them the possibilities of working as a team and give them the tools to function as one. When you do, you’ll reap the benefits of a high performance dental team. In other words, those goals, dreams, and aspirations that you set forth for your practice at the start of 2007 – and probably ’06, ’05, and ’04 – will begin to take flight … at long last.
Effective teams have a few fundamental needs that have to be addressed. First, in order to follow, they need to know what direction their leader is heading. Share your vision and your goals for the practice.
Second, never forget that each individual on your team craves direction and a fundamental understanding of how their day-to-day work fits into the practice’s overall goals and objectives. Your employees need to understand not only the big picture but just exactly how they fit into the frame. The business team needs to understand why confirmation calls are not just busy work but are critical to the success of the clinical schedule. Each individual needs to recognize that their role affects not just themselves but everyone else, particularly the patients.
Third, team members need conflict. Yes, I know you like to avoid this, but it is in managing disagreements that you and your staff learn to work through problems. Your practice goals are not getting the attention they need when Tami is ticked off at Emily because she shows up 15 minutes late every day.
In effectively managing disagreements, not only are you creating a system for dealing with conflict but you’re also strengthening the team’s ability to communicate with each other. It is only in working through the issues of discontent that individuals resolve concerns, learn to trust each other, and, ultimately, work as a team, which brings me to my fourth point.
A true team must be able to discuss all aspects of the practice effectively and respectfully with one another. This type of environment encourages individuals to risk speaking up, to ask for help, and it gives them a safety net to make mistakes. It also creates a setting that fuels the desire and the enthusiasm necessary to turn team priorities into individual priorities.
And finally, move over doctor. Your good people cannot do great things if you are constantly standing in their way. Team members need to feel included in the goal setting process
. They need to feel valued for their contributions, and they need to feel empowered to make decisions and take action when it is in the best interest of the practice. If they have to run to you for approval at every turn, they’ll spend far more time running in circles than reaching for your goals.
Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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