Getting the right people on the bus!

Aug. 1, 2003
Do you wonder if you will ever have a "dental dream team?" Or will bringing that team together and keeping it together be just that — a dream!

By Cathy Jameson

Do you wonder if you will ever have a "dental dream team?" Or will bringing that team together and keeping it together be just that — a dream!

Many doctors wish they could just come into the office in the morning, go to the chair, and do the dentistry. Going into dentistry doesn't mean being a personnel manager or a leader of a team ... so some dentists think. But, alas, you do wear two coats at all times: one is a lab coat and the other is a business suit. When you wear your lab coat, your clinical expertise and patient care are of the utmost importance. When you have on your business suit coat, gathering, training, managing, and motivating your team is of primary importance.

Being a leader — an effective leader — may be one of the most challenging roles that you carry out in your practice. Leadership must be provided on several different levels:

• Helping patients make decisions that are good for them.
• Guiding team members to places of personal growth and development — seeing them as people ... people who deserve to be seen and who want to be seen as valuable individuals.

You improve your leadership abilities through continuous learning: making mistakes and being courageous enough to learn from those mistakes; focusing on what makes the biggest difference for the practice; working at developing and maintaining a high energy level; learning to make appropriate and timely decisions; delegating to staff when and where possible; nurturing your team members to stretch further than they ever imagined.

Without a well-functioning team, you must know that your practice will be held back and that you will waste a great deal of energy. When your team or some members of the team are in a state of disharmony or dysfunction, everyone and everything is held back. On the other hand, when a team is coordinated — when all team members are working cohesively toward a common set of goals and feel a sense of co-ownership — the practice can't help but thrive.

It may be more comfortable and easier for you to focus on the dentistry than on team development. However, if you neglect the teamwork, nothing works!

Team-building goals

In his marvelous book, Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses the massive research he and his team did on the subject. They thought that they would discover that obtaining clarity about the vision and goals of a company would be the most imperative to achieving success. However, they found that getting the right people in place was the No. 1 characteristic of companies that moved from good to great ... and stayed there! Finding and keeping the right people is vital to taking a company to the next level — and keeping it there!

In his book, Collins says, "Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. And get the right people in the right seats."

Your game plan to achieve these objectives might look like this:

1) Hire the right people.
2) Develop a strategic plan for practice enhancement.
3) Detail specific descriptions of each position's responsibilities.
4) Work continuously on opening the lines of communication and keeping them open.
5) Brainstorm safe and effective ways to identify and overcome conflict.
6) Implement a strategic system for problem-solving.
7) Hold powerful, productive, and fun team meetings.
8) Celebrate the small victories along the way. Pat each other on the back for work well done, and don't forget to give yourself positive reinforcement.

Teamwork is the key. Get the right team in place — no matter how hard it may be! It's better to take a while to hire ... and hire right.

Then, spend quality time orienting new people into the team and the practice. Make sure that your training system is second to none. Give people a chance to be successful ... and be structured for success. Make sure you eliminate chaos within any of your systems, because chaos breeds stress.

Developing a well-organized team and practice is the single-most powerful stress-control "system" you can have. Start now!

Cathy Jameson, PhD, is president of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental lecture and consulting firm. She has been a featured speaker for the major dental meetings throughout the world and is an adjunct faculty member of the Oklahoma University School of Dentistry and an associate professor at the NYU College of Dentistry. Her books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. Contact Dr. Jameson at (580) 369-5555, or email [email protected].

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