Feedback: What Goes Around Comes Around
When was the last time you asked your employees to honestly tell you how you are doing. Scary thought, isn’t it? But just as staff need routine feedback and necessary course correction, so too do doctors. It can be handled as simply as asking every employee to anonymously write down one thing they would change about the office - no personal attacks allowed. The focus is constructive feedback on a system or procedure that they believe could be improved. It could be daily/monthly meetings, new patient packets, scheduling difficulties, increased training opportunities, clear office procedures, conflict resolution strategies, etc.
If you are particularly brave, ask your team to rate you personally on a set of skills such as your leadership, your ability to delegate, your adherence to following established office procedures, your openness to input from the team, and while you’re at it ask them to identify something specific they believe you could do to improve your role as leader of the practice.
Employees: This is for you. Feedback is only as good as what you do with it. No question, doctors need to provide feedback to employees daily. But this street runs both ways, and employees must be willing to accept the feedback and take action on it. In reality, if employees are open to it, feedback is all around them - particularly from their colleagues in the dental practice. The key is to take the feedback and turn it into positive action.
Some employees, no matter how carefully they are handled, will take every constructive comment as criticism. They only want to hear how well they are doing, not how they can improve. Take a good look at how you respond to suggestions and comments from those around you. Are you defensive? Do you take it as a personal affront? Are your feelings hurt or do you become angry when someone recommends doing something a different way? Do you dismiss feedback because you don’t like the person giving it? The key is to separate yourself from the action and look at feedback as an objective view of a particular task or procedure, and most importantly, as one of the most essential tools you can use to excel.
Too often supervisors and co-workers are so overly concerned about offending a staff member, they shun opportunities to give feedback. So when a co-worker does step forward and actually offer feedback, they are taking a major risk and should be thanked for their willingness to help you become a better employee. Ideally, the culture of the practice should encourage open feedback among the team members to continuously improve systems and patient services.
The best way to become comfortable in receiving and acting on feedback is to ask for it. We are completely incapable of seeing ourselves as others see us, which is why being open to feedback is essential in achieving our greatest potential and recognizing those unprofessional habits and approaches that are interfering with that potential. When receiving feedback, make a conscious decision to listen carefully to what the person is saying and control your desire to respond. In other words, resist the urge to kill the messenger. Ask questions to better understand the specifics of the person’s feedback. If the person giving the feedback is angry, ask them if you can sit down and discuss the problem when you are both calmer and can respond wisely rather than emotionally.
Thank them for trying to help you improve, even if you didn’t particularly care for what they told you. Resist the urge to disregard the comments you consider to be negative. Push yourself to write the comments down and focus on the substance of the message rather than what you might perceive as a negative tone from the messenger. Over the next 48 hours think about the information you have been given and devise three to five steps you can take to change your approach.
Don’t sit back and wait for feedback, actively solicit it and use it! Recognize that feedback is one of the most critical tools you have in achieving your full potential.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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