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Dentists: Don’t be afraid to delegate!

Feb. 16, 2022
Delegating is like running a race. Many of the steps to prepare for a winning race are the same as successfully delegating to your dental team. You’ll be glad you did!

Delegation is one of the most powerful ways to increase the capacity of dentists, office managers, and team members. Delegation creates high levels of efficiency, improves time management, and has the right people doing the right tasks for maximum practice performance.

To make this different, I’ll use the analogy of running a race to explain the five stages of delegation.

Select your best runner

One of the critical elements of any race is selecting the best runner for that distance. For delegating, you want to be sure that you select the right person for the task or there is a good chance the task won’t be successfully completed.

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Get your runner to the starting line

It’s essential to get your runner to the starting line for a race. First you must identify the task that you’re delegating. You want to be able to communicate this clearly and allow for questions when you ask your runner to accept the task—to get to the starting line.

Know the race you’re in and how to win

A runner must know the distance, pace, record time for the race, and any other parameters for a race. For successful delegation, you must lay out clear objectives and the expected result. If the individual taking on the task doesn’t have a complete understanding of the ultimate result, it will be more difficult to achieve the final objective.

Be sure your runner is ready

Provide all the support necessary for the person taking on the task. This should include providing resources, guidance, and answering their questions. Think of this as a teaching opportunity by feeding them information and guidance prior to starting the task. Just like a runner who needs support from coaches before and during the race—such as yelling out how fast they’re going or what place they’re in—delegating a task is very similar.

Monitor the race and conduct an evaluation

Here I’m referring to checking in along the way. For example, let’s say it’s a four-lap race. The coach may yell out times to the runner, that way the runner knows whether they’re fast enough on each of the four laps. This is the equivalent to having check-in steps with the person who accepted the delegation. Of course, you don’t want to micromanage everything or you might as well do the task yourself. However, you can check in to make sure progress is being made, just as a running coach checks in with a runner during the race.
You should also conduct an evaluation. Elite runners watch video of themselves to understand how to improve performance. When delegating a task, the evaluation is about how the individual went about the task, whether the results were achieved, how to improve handling the task in the future, and expressing gratitude to maintain high levels of motivation.

One of the best ways to begin delegating is to make a list of all the tasks you perform in one week. Then review the list to determine what can be delegated to which staff members to increase practice efficiency and allow you to handle the most important tasks that fit you. Most dentists are surprised at some of the tasks they’ve always done that are easily handled by others.

About the Author

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group, has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles, and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

Updated January 23, 2024

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