Solving team pitfalls

We are in an era where dental staff must move to TEAM for success. You can spot the difference between a staff and a real team.

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by Bill Blatchford

We are in an era where dental staff must move to TEAM for success. You can spot the difference between a staff and a real team. Staff refers to individuals who work hard with their own agendas. You can see, hear, and feel the difference when a group of individuals shift to a real team. There is an emotional and physical change as the team evolves.

A team develops first because of thinking and action on the part of the doctor, the leader. A driving force brings a group of individuals together who are seeing something larger than themselves. There is a commitment to action to create a winning environment for clients, partners, and themselves.

When a group of individuals fails to form as a team, there are some reasons. Yet, a doctor with a dream wants results, not reasons. As the leader, find that dream, make it clear in your mind, and then communicate it again and again. Clarity and communication are keys. Only then will you see your “staff” making choices about you and your direction.

The responses from staff are either yes or no. It may be, “I love the new direction and will do whatever it takes to get there. I see it, and this is me.” Or it may be “No! Why do we have all these changes? I won’t do that, and it is not me.”

Who would you rather have on your team? Each dentist must decide.

In our book, Playing Your “A” Game, one of the 23 practitioners who shared his story with us was Chicago’s Dr. John Kelly, who became the leader of his father’s practice. He sadly discovered the staff he inherited from his father was unable or unwilling to shift their loyalty and trust to him. He had a definite vision in mind and finally had to find a whole new team, all of whom have been with him now for six solid and growing years. That is leadership.

Leadership is how and why a great team forms. A leader knows and shares the direction, and a team forms. Answer clearly for yourself these three questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • For whom do we do it?

The leader and the team keep the vision and dream alive. The leader sets the standards and the climate. The pitfalls of staff and employees occur because of a lack of clear leadership.

How can you solve the problem of having the wrong team and not recognizing it? If you have one excellent player and fail to reorganize the rest, you will lose your best team player. If you are a micromanager who belittles the team, no one will want or need to step up because you always come to the rescue. Big players will not play in this environment. Big leaders hold the vision and are very willing to delegate and share responsibilities. Hold the vision high.

The leader needs to communicate the vision in regular staff meetings, morning huddles, and training sessions. The leader needs to coach, encourage, and compliment. How can a team turn vision into patient interactions, internal marketing, and effective conversations?

Moving from staff to team to partners means developing systems that will directly benefit team members. A fair and regular bonus based on the team’s efforts in production/collection as well as more time off with pay as a result of efficiency and skills are partnership musts.

The leader works with the team to write team covenants about time, meaningful conversations (no gossip), personal issues on work time, guest protocol, etc. Team agreements are critical. Live by them.

A leader leads with attitude. We mimic the leaders we respect. Create an attitude of winning rather than mediocrity. Keep the bigger picture in mind and don’t get mired in small tasks. Encourage an attitude of curiosity so that when a new skill, instrument, or material is introduced, the response is: “This will really help us. I can’t wait to learn how to use it!” What does your team think when the cameras you ordered a year ago are still in their boxes and have never been tried?

Leaders can still have fun and have their own personality. You can be friends with your team, but there needs to be a clear distinction. Earn their respect by making your vision clear and demonstrating commitment. Good people disrespect a lack of follow-through and will find another place to flourish.

Leaders can create the shift from individuals to team to partners. It’s all in your hands. Grab hold of leadership. Dream a bigger picture with clarity, keep communicating it, be consistent, and a team will form. 0706de080

Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.

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