Fall In Love All Over Again…with Dentistry
Wedding season will soon be in full swing. While love may be in the air for couples, for many dentists, the strain of running a practice has them taking vows of a very different kind. Certainly, we all have bad days, bad weeks, and even bad years. The stress can pile up to the point where you feel trapped in the daily grind, living for the weekend, and just waiting for the moment you can afford to retire.
Maybe it’s time to start loving what you do today, rather than wishing for tomorrow. Consider the fundamentals: Does your practice give you the financial resources and the time to enjoy your work, your life, and your family? Second, and perhaps the most important question: If you could do it all again, would you choose this career path? If you answered “no” to either or both of the questions above, it’s time for change.
Evaluate what you want. If it’s a more successful practice that will provide you with the resources to achieve greater enjoyment from both your work and your personal life, I can assure you that you have the power to make that happen. If you are questioning your career choice, I am willing to bet that it’s because you pursued dentistry to be the dentist in your practice, not the VP of Human Resources, not the collections police, not the office counselor, not the chief rule maker, etc.
Consistently, we find that dentists who are the least satisfied professionally and personally have the weakest practice systems. They resign themselves to unhappiness and dissatisfaction because they either don’t realize that they have choices, or in some cases, are afraid to make different choices. And in those practices, I can assure you that nobody is feelin’ the love.
Let’s look at the areas that are most likely to have you considering a “professional divorce.”
Those three affect multiple systems, and are commonly the source of a whole lot of heartache. Let’s look at #1 on most practitioners’ “No Love Lost Here” list: Employees. Consider this – it’s not necessarily the people, it may well be the place. Let me explain. The happiest teams and most satisfied doctors have the healthiest practice cultures. Coming to the office isn’t dreaded, and the team members genuinely respect each other. Sound like the stuff fairytales are made of? You won’t get this by wishing on a star; you have to create it. Disagreements arise in every practice, but when they are dealt with according to a clear set of conflict management strategies, the team knows that they can respectfully disagree.
Managing conflict begins with establishing specific standards for professional office behavior. Destructive personal attacks among team members simply cannot be tolerated. Moreover, every office must have clearly established office policies and follow them. Below are a few do’s and don’ts to build a stronger, more effective team in your practice.
Don’t ignore problems. Set aside time to address matters that cause conflict. Remember, conflict often begins with a minor disagreement, annoyance, or misunderstanding. Jane isn’t providing the production reports as promised. Anna is walking in late routinely. Chris is scheduling 60 minute patients in 40 minute slots.
Don’t react emotionally and judge, criticize, or attack. Emotional reactions tend to occur when there is no system for addressing conflict and the situation deteriorates into a destructive exchange that can lead to irreparable damage.
Don’t make excuses for ignoring conflict. She’s too nice. He’s too argumentative. They’ve been doing it that way forever.
Do identify those issues that commonly trigger conflict. Do talk to people not about them. Do focus on addressing the issue rather than proving who is right or wrong. Do admit when you are wrong. Do choose to be a problem solver. Do make the effort to address the issue calmly and long before it grows out of control.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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