The 5Ms of a Successful Team
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Dr. Sharon Stanley- Case Study #305
Dr. Stanley was more than willing to share with a consultant her struggles with the team as well as the team’s struggles with her…yes, she was willing to admit that she caused some of the stress in the office! Dr. Stanley was concerned about “communication” in her practice. She felt that everyone was running around like “chickens with their heads cut off” and “the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing”.
Physical statistics of interest:
Practice statistics of concern:
The team members shared: “The doctor hangs around the front desk all the time asking me “dumb” questions about the schedule, why patients cancel and what am I doing. It drives me crazy!” These type of comments can not only mean there may be a lack of respect for the doctor but frustration by the team that does not understand why the doctor does not trust them. While these may be the by-product of the comment, as a consultant, you have to look deeper into the cause of the concerns. These comments stemmed from lack of communication, training and not having a clear understanding of the expectation of the systems. It could easily be corrected by the mere fact that if the team keeps the doctor busy doing dentistry, she won’t have time to be asking them questions.
After two days of observing Dr. Stanley’s daily routine with patients, it was easy to see some of the communication issues that she was concerned about:
The list goes on and on. What is sad is that all the employees are scurrying around the office trying to find someone to help them with their “challenge” and no one is actually attending to the patients and their needs.
Have you been to an Old Navy store recently? They are one of many businesses now using, wireless headsets to very effectively communicate the employees’ needs to fellow employees in order to elicit assistance via 2-way radios. Features such as vibrating call alert and hands-free push-to-talk microphone earpiece helps to improve communication and workflow. After the initial two-week complaining from the staff regarding change, listen to some of the comments from the doctors and team members…
All these comments may seem trivial, but the office is q-u-I-e-t-e-r now. Team members aren’t yelling instructions down the hall; the doctor is conducting her hygiene exams in a timely manner; patients aren’t waiting in the reception room because someone forgot to “turn the light on”, etc. Now, EVERYONE knows what is going on in the office and this is vital in order for the practice to run smoothly and efficiently.
This is just one of many ways in which you can improve the communication level in your practice and your team can “hear you now”!
Dr. Nancy Haller
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You need strong communication skills to succeed in dentistry. Although this may seem obvious, most of us assume that those with whom we communicate will react the same way – what works for one person will be equally good for another. WRONG!
If you think back to information exchanges you’ve had in the office, you will recognize that there are just some patients (and employees) who are easier for you to communicate with than others. Why is that?
There are numerous factors that influence the way we exchange information with people. One of the most subtle but important aspects is ‘type’. Based on the work of Carl Jung, psychological type is a well-respected way of classifying or categorizing different personality preferences.
Like four suits in a hand of cards, we each have a long suit and a short suit in what interests us and what we do well. The first “type” dimension is concerned with the two different ways people orient themselves to life, either as Extraverts or Introverts. Contrary to what most people may think when they hear the words “Extravert” and “Introvert,” this type dimension is really most concerned about people's energy - where they get it and where they direct it.
When I refer to a type or a preference, I’m not talking about a conscious choice, but rather an inborn tendency. Research suggests that a genetic factor contributes to our socializing preferences. Linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, it controls excitement levels and is vital for physical activity and motivation. Depending upon how much “buzz” you like in your life may be related to the level of dopamine you need to feel stimulated.
What energizes you the most:
Where do you like to focus your energy:
Extraverts are externally oriented. They get energy from and focus their energy toward people and things outside of themselves. Introverts are more inwardly focused and directed. Because Extraverts are energized by being around people, they naturally seek out others more often than Introverts do.
As with all of the type preferences, people with one preference often find it hard to understand and appreciate people of another. Most Extraverts have such a strong need to be around others, they have a hard time believing Introverts really do like spending that much time alone. Conversely, Introverts cannot understand why Extraverts need to use so much ‘air time’.
If you are an introvert, it is likely that you come into the office each morning and head straight to your desk. Perhaps you even close the door. You want the quiet time to get organized and think through the day’s activities. But what message is that behavior communicating to your employees? I’ve heard from dental staff that they feel the doctor doesn’t care about them.
If you’re an extravert, you probably do a lot of talking when you enter the office. Perhaps you describe an interesting movie you saw over the weekend or even an odd experience that happened to you that morning. You may ask your staff lots of questions, eager to engage in conversation. Friendly as those behaviors are, for quiet staff this verbosity can be over stimulating…and annoying.
The same goes for patients. Some need time to think and process the things you say. Others long for you to say more. There is no “right” way. That’s why it benefits you to learn to identify your natural preferences and observe those of others so you will know how to communicate.
The requirements of leadership sometimes pose a bigger challenge for the introvert. The primary shortcomings for shy, reserved people are generally around communication and accessibility. A thoughtful, introspective approach can be mistaken for aloofness and might discourage people from asking questions. That's not trivial; if you can't effectively communicate your mission and objectives, your practice will run adrift. Introverted leaders need to get comfortable talking even if it seems like it’s already been said once.
For extraverted leaders the challenge is to listen more than talk. Learn to ask questions and pause. Extraverts need to get comfortable with silence.
It isn't necessary to undergo a personality transformation to be effective. You do need to find ways to manage your natural style – your ‘type’ - so that it works for you rather than against you. For communication to be successful, the person on the ‘“receiving” side (patient or employee) must understand your message and that is based on their preference.
Give yourself a work-out and flex your type. I promise that it will make you psychologically and fiscally fit!
To learn more about your communication preferences and the impact on your practice, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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