Wouldn’t you like to improve the productivity and efficiency of every member of your team? How about reducing conflicts? Do you need fewer communication breakdowns? Would you like more practice revenue? Would you enjoy less stress and a higher quality of life and work?
I’ll bet the answer is yes!
One very important factor in reaching these desirable goals is to improve teamwork in your practice. As the leader of your team, you must not tolerate mediocre performance from the other members. Instead, insist on a team that follows your standards and executes your vision to help you reach your practice goals.
Let me suggest 10 ways to get you on your way to more productivity and less stress in the office:
- Hold your team accountable. Be sure all team members understand what is expected of them, in writing, and then review these expectations with them at regular intervals or more often if necessary.
- Make constructive suggestions. Criticism is easy. Instead, offer suggestions as an alternative to behavior that needs changing.
- Emphasize what each team member must do to succeed. Again, written job descriptions need to describe accurately and understandably what is expected for outstanding team participation.
- Get a full commitment to improve where it is needed including acknowledgement of a problem. Conflict happens even in the best of circumstances. When it does, those team members involved must “own” their part in the conflict and commit to necessary changes to resolve the conflict.
- Give clear directions for improvement. As the team leader, you must decide what is needed for your teamwork to improve. At that point, you must clearly communicate what you are mandating to all members of the team.
- Get feedback from your team in a non-threatening environment. Your coworkers will often have great ideas to improve the team. As the leader, you must provide an opportunity for them to share their thoughts in a comfortable setting so they feel free to share. Take time to listen and thank them for their input and concern. Give credit for ideas you implement and explain why you reject others.
- Discuss solutions to problems with the team. You do not have to disclose everything to your team. There are reasons why you should not in certain situations. But the more secretive you are, the more you are perceived as dictatorial. You will greatly benefit from transparency with your team.
- Be prepared for non-cooperation with a measured response. Sometimes things just don’t work out. When that happens, be decisive about the resolution. Prepare for that moment ahead of time. Document all directives and any non-compliance with those directives.
- Demonstrate leadership courage. Firing a team member is never easy. But there are occasions when it must be done. When your directions are not followed and you have given proper opportunity for resolution, then quickly cut ties. Delay only makes it more difficult.
- Continue to give and get encouraging feedback. Even after a difficult episode with your team, continue to lead well. Explain briefly why any changes were made and then be positive about moving forward.
Working with your team may be the most difficult part of a dental practice. With an almost infinite number of personality combinations and personal circumstances, there are many moving parts. But it is critical to the health of your practice that you do your best to make your team a well-oiled machine.
Very often, an objective observer can help you when you are having trouble identifying team problems and implementing needed teamwork solutions. Consider hiring a consultant to help. You will be glad you did!
Dr. Bobby Haney has recently retired from private dental practice in Waxahachie, Texas, after 32 years. He is the founder and leader of practicegrowthcoach.com and president of 1Twenty2 Ministries, and he and lives with his team (wife and daughter) at their ranch in Bristol, Texas. He can be contacted via his website, by email at drbobby@PracticeGrowthCoach.com, or by phone at 469-843-0119.
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