Written by Damon C. Adams, DDS Sunday, 30 April 2006 19:00
|Figure 1. Dr. William Stewart (left) and Dirk Albrecht, CDT, build their relationship by personally meeting and discussing cases.|
In this article we will take a fictitious, tongue-in-cheek look at the "honeymoon phase" of a doctor/technician relationship, a situation similar to that which can, and most likely has, occurred in some way in many offices. Then we will review some essential leadership principles that can serve as guidelines to assist us in establishing and sustaining a more communicative, productive, and consistent doctor/technician team. Finally, as examples we will look briefly at 2 doctor/technician teams that have shared long-term relationships and discover the essence of what has made their relationships successful.
THE HONEYMOON BEGINS!
As the doctor passed into the second month of the relationship, he remembered his first 12 cases with this new dental laboratory; they had been completed without a hitch! This still-naive doctor, who believed he had finally found the perfect dental laboratory he had always dreamed about, thought, "I'm on cloud nine!" After all, he had personally seen those sterling case samples that were proudly displayed at the recent dental show. Besides, he had heard great things about the laboratory from the local sales representative who regularly visited his office. Just as he had done with the other 4 laboratories in his 10 years in practice, his assistant called the laboratory and asked for boxes, prescriptions, and a fee schedule. That was the standard procedure, and it pretty well took care of all that doctor/laboratory relationship stuff.
THE HONEYMOON IS OVER! ALREADY?
YES! THINGS CAN AND WILL GO WRONG!
HOW WE HANDLE ADVERSITY IS THE SIGN OF A TRUE LEADER
When it hits, adversity tests our abilities as the leader of our business. Of course, the time we took to build a meaningful relationship (or not) will come back to help us (or haunt us), usually during one of the first cataclysmic events. Our handling of situation after situation will be etched into the minds and potential actions and reactions of all those around us, including our patients. There needs to be a healthy balance between the perfection that is always our ultimate goal and the clinical realities with which we all live.
|Figure 2. Dr. Stephen Jacobson (right) and Robert Wisler, CDT, have sustained their relationship even in the wake of change brought on by technological advancement.|
Laboratory technicians will often act and react to their doctors as their doctors act and react toward them. (This is true in reverse, as well.) Deep down, inside each and every one of us, we need personal and professional relationships in which we are respected and revered. Some people seem to have that interpersonal magnetism that naturally draws those around them to listen and to share. Others need to search deeper and open themselves to developing and improving their relationships, especially their personal leadership skills. With this in mind, let us briefly review some of the qualities found in a leader. These will help guide us in the quest for great long-term relationships with our dental team, patients, and perhaps other personal relationships as well. All professional leaders should have the following:
• a defined vision
• a personal and business philosophy that is specific and consistent
• strong relationships built through time, based on congruent visions
• character that reflects integrity, commitment, and self-discipline in all dealings
• communication skills that include charisma, focus (listening), and compassion
• a positive mental and verbal attitude
• competence in any skills employed in serving others
• a sincere sense of responsibility when things go right and when things go wrong
• a balanced, healthy ego that can accept criticism as well as dispense criticism with grace and effectiveness
• an ability to take the initiative when required and to follow when it is better to do so for others
• generosity and graciousness in dealing with others
• courage to say and do what is necessary when essential for team success
• a real heartfelt passion for people, work, and play
• a realization that real success lies in service for others above service for self.
An example of a strong relationship based on many of the above principles can be found between Dr. William Stewart and Dirk Albrecht, CDT, and his staff at Oral Designs Dental Laboratory, working together in San Antonio, Tex (Figure 1).
Superior doctor/technician relationships have the best chance to be sustained when they are born out of, and developed within, a congruent and shared vision. Utilizing solid leadership principles and effective communication skills in an atmosphere of mutual respect will provide the tools needed for success. As doctors and dental technicians, we should direct more of our collective energies toward establishing long-term relationships in which we are willing to share in the problems that we have in common and in discovering the solutions. The best chance that we have to realize our complete human potential lies in our commitment to developing and sustaining healthy, service-above-self relationships.
1. Adams DC. Selecting the right dental laboratory for your practice. Dent Today. Oct 2005;24:118-121.
2. Dentist-Laboratory Communications Survey. Dental Products Report. 2004.
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