7.13.12 Issue #540 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Effective Leader + Effective Team = Successful Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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I never cease to be amazed at the number of practice owners who have no comprehension of what it means to be a leader. They know they are the boss, which they believe means when employees screw up, they tell them. Or when things go wrong they scream and yell and make a scene that no one forgets. Or they just shun the whole idea of “boss,” hiding in the operatories or in their offices to just let employees “take care of things.” It’s a scenario that is not uncommon in small business, and the business of dentistry is no exception.

After all, dentists are not trained to be leaders. And if they tend to be fearful, mistrusting or insecure individuals, effective leadership will be all the more difficult to achieve. Few practice owners truly comprehend how to maximize the value of the people who are central to their success. Many will happily assert that they pay their employees a “fair” salary. They provide a few perks, and they deliver good dentistry, so what more “leadership” does the office really need? Sadly, these practices likely will peak at merely average. But for the many, many doctors seeking to improve their leadership skills and their practices, I encourage you to consider what I regard as a few key characteristics of both effective leaders and effective teams.

Effective Leaders:

  1. Establish clear expectations of their employees both individually and as a team.
  2. Provide training and necessary resources to achieve those expectations.
  3. Establish clear guidelines for office procedures and office conduct.
  4. Regularly provide feedback to employees, praising often and publicly, correcting privately and constructively.
  5. Are secure enough to know that they don't have all the answers and appreciate input and opinions from the team to encourage open communication and a steady flow of ideas.
  6. Trust their teams. They are not swooping in to take over and micromanage.
  7. Treat their employees with respect and encouragement.

But it doesn't stop with the doctor/practice owner. Central to the success of the practice is effectively leading a team. Successful teams have a few key characteristics as well.

Effective Teams:

  1. Each employee understands how his/her day-to-day work fits into the practice's overall goals and objectives.
  2. Clear and open communication among the team and the doctor is the norm, not the exception.
  3. Positive feedback and constructive problem solving among the group are commonplace.
  4. Trust and mutual respect are evident. Employees trust and respect the leader and each other.  
  5. Conflict is managed through a clearly defined system.
  6. Problems and concerns are addressed, not ignored.
  7. Strengths are appreciated and maximized; weaknesses are recognized and minimized.

Effective teams are made up of employees who feel included in the process. They feel valued for their contributions, and they feel empowered to make decisions and take action when it’s in the best interest of the practice. A true team environment encourages individuals to risk speaking up, to ask for help, and share opinions. If staff are sitting in meetings and letting you do all the talking, or discussions are quickly answered with, “Okay, doctor, whatever you want,” you’ve effectively stifled open communication and created an environment in which staff may play along, but they’ve long-since learned that your opinion is the only one that really matters.  

Effective team members turn broader practice priorities into individual priorities. They understand that their role affects not just themselves but everyone else. Moreover, they create an environment where they can candidly but respectfully address shortcomings in systems without pointing fingers at each other. Effective teams respect each other and recognize one another's differences. Teams are microcosms of the world in which we live. Everyone brings strengths, weaknesses, and yes, occasionally baggage to the table. Use management tools to understand each other's personalities as well as strengths and weaknesses.

Effective teams have leaders who celebrate success, deliver praise without reservation, and create an environment in which the staff and the doctor sincerely enjoy each other and working together toward the common goals.

Are you ready to improve the leadership of your practice? Call me at 877-777-6151

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having Sally McKenzie Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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