Dental practice leadership: Learning to delegate my way to smooth sailing
Everybody was looking at me. Too many things were falling through the cracks. There was too much stress, and worse of all, patients were starting to notice. Funny thing was I thought I had started out just fine, and then I started to feel as if I had to push everything and everybody to the next level to make it all work.
I called a staff meeting and brought in doughnuts. NEVER underestimate the power of doughnuts!
And my staff talked through the issues. I mostly listened – it turns out that the staff wanted to do a good job but had no direction, despite what I thought were clear instructions.
Yes, I felt quite sheepish. Not knowing exactly what to do next, I took ownership of the chaos. I was not critical of my staff and stayed positive. After the staff vented, I was able to get everybody on the same page again.
Together, the staff and I were going to meet individually to develop a responsibility plan. They left the initial meeting still a bit skeptical. But everyone was hopeful.
Knowing that I could not wave a magic wand and do everything at the same time, I chose to focus on ordering supplies, and came up with a plan that I thought would work for us. I chose the staff member that would be responsible for ordering and went over my plan.
The meeting started out tense, but I gently pushed for her input. Finally she started to let me know what she was thinking. Actually, it was a good discussion. Concerns were discussed and a final plan was established. The important thing for me was to be able to follow up and have somebody accountable for supplies. Her main concern was having the time to do supply control and to address problems in the future. In the end we both felt happy.
Next stop, the front desk. I followed the same steps I did to correct the supply issues. The steps worked again. The stress level was decreasing and people were in general happier.
Of course there are issues that arise, but now the staff feels safe, the communications lines are open and nothing boils over anymore!
Thinking back on it all, I realized that I learned some important lessons:
- Take ownership of the chaos. By taking the focus off the staff initially, an atmosphere of safety can be created that allows everything else to happen.Taking ownership and then communicating a plan gives you credibility as a leader.
- Clearly explain the task and your expectations.
- Get feedback from the staff member who will be responsible. Many times he or she will see obstacles and have concerns that you won’t be aware of.
- Set a time for evaluation and problem solving. Issues arise it is always best to deal with them together.
- Stay upbeat and positive!
These basic steps still work for me and they should work for you too.
Good luck and enjoy smoother sailing!
Dr. Kenyon Glor is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association and Lorain County Dental Society. He is a family dentist in Wellington, Ohio and has been practicing there for 27 years. Dr. Glor completed his dental training at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. When he’s not practicing, he enjoys family activities with his wife, Betsy, and children, Ethan, Benjamin and Emily. He also loves basketball, soccer and sailing.