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DB Column: Two Sides of the Management Coin

July 7th, 2009 · No Comments

True Teamwork
How to bring the staff and doctor(s) together
Staff Viewpoint by Linda Miles – Doctor’s Viewpoint by Dr. Rhonda Savage

teamwork-building-blocksLife would be great, at times, if it weren’t for other people! Yet it is through relationships with others that you’ll often obtain the greatest rewards! Your dental office is where you spend many hours of your life. Getting along and working productively is so important, yet many offices experience stress because team members argue, give each other the silent treatment or allow someone else to do all the work.
How well does your team work together? Can you depend on each other? Trust and respect one another?
Trust and respect are two essential key elements for a dental office.

Staff Viewpoint by Linda Miles:

Why do I have to work with her? She’s on the cell phone, taking personal calls and texting! I have to do her work, plus mine. Or… he’s not a team player. He’s surfing the internet instead of focusing on past due accounts. I’m afraid to talk to the doctor about this, but the job’s not getting done!

Or: I just don’t like her. We don’t think alike.
Or: Does your office seem divided, with the front against the back and vice versa?

Doctor’s Viewpoint by Dr. Rhonda Savage:

Why can’t they just all get along? The bickering and infighting are driving me crazy. I just want to go to work and go home. My job is to treat patients, not act as a referee! Every time I get the staff squared away, another problem erupts. I’m ready to fire the whole bunch!

Steps to Follow:

As a team member: You do not always have to be a close personal friend with everyone in your office, but you do always need to show respect and professionalism. Your role as a team member is to first approach the other person and try to work out difficulties. This is not an easy thing to do, but is very important. Use the “feel, felt, found” method to diffuse the defensiveness of the other person. As an example: “Marci, could I talk with you? Is this a good time? I’d like to let you know that I feel tension between us. I’ve felt this especially today when you were silent all day long. What I’ve found is if we can talk this through, that we can work together better and really help the patients.” If you’re not able to resolve the situation, approach your doctor and ask for a 3-way discussion to resolve the problem.

As a doctor: Many dental offices have conflict arising when weaker members do not follow thru on commitments, which creates a lack of trust. Here are some guidelines to facilitate accountability for your team members:

  1. Write down and detail the steps/duties in the responsibility. Defined duties are a must in a dental practice. Eighty percent of your time at work should be defined by your job description and responsibilities. Remember that when everyone does everything, no one is accountable for anything! 20% of your time is spent bending over backwards helping others however you can. The words a successful, trusted, well respected team member uses when asked for help are: Absolutely! Or… Certainly!
  2. Outline the time commitment and set aside adequate time. It is not fair to assign or accept a responsibility and then have no time to accomplish the task.
  3. Be careful to not overload the staff person with too many commitments or too many interruptions. They will get discouraged and burn out.
  4. Follow thru by putting a note on your calendar to check on progress. If you don’t check on progress, the task may not be accomplished. Find out how the project is progressing and show interest! It is discouraging for a team member to work hard and not received recognition for a job well done!

To build trust and accountability, dental offices need consistent leadership and effective team meetings. With team meetings, staff have the opportunity to volunteer for projects. Create a strong team by not showing favoritism to certain team members. It is impossible to build trust if one person is favored over others.
Ask yourself these questions: Does your staff believe that they are being treated fairly, without prejudice? Do some feel excluded from the decision making process? Does one person “do it all?” When there is not accountability, often times another more detailed oriented person will pick up the slack and take the job on, over and over again, until he or she becomes upset with the situation.

For everyone: Designated duties and holding ourselves accountable creates trust and respect in the dental office. Your sense of teamwork will grow and stress will decrease!

Visit LLM&A Consulting online!

Tags: Two Sides of the Management Coin by Linda Miles and Dr. Rhonda Savage

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