In any small, consumer driven business, having people that “like” you is key. Most great dental practices are driven by the personality, charisma, and horsepower of the owner. The opposite is true in practices that struggle because of a lack of one or more of these required traits. Since most of us are average, we find that when we hire staff we need to be sure that we are assembling the best team possible. An over-riding principle is to hire those who “compliment” you and “compensate” for you. They complement your vision, style, and culture but they also step up and compensate for you in those areas that do not play to your strengths. In my office my staff was more social than I was and they certainly had better people skills. The benefit for me was that I came off looking more social with better people skills than I really had. I owe my success to my staff. Yes, I created the culture, designed the systems, and ultimately hired my team. But it was my staff that successfully carried it all off. Having your staff “like” you is essential. Great leaders have followers. If you have “revolving door syndrome” for employees resulting in limited staff longevity, you and your office are not very likeable. Don’t ignore the possibility that you need a little help in this area.
While having your staff genuinely like you is the starting point, having your patients like you can be even more important to making your practice the success it should be. Great leaders are not necessarily the smartest people in the room but they are very self-aware of themselves. They know what they do well and where they struggle. They know their strengths and weaknesses and never ignore them. It should be a constant priority for you to perform at your best so that your practice is seen in the best light possible. Assembling a great team based on these principles allows you to take advantage of synergism where together you produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. You are better as a team than any of you would be individually. Great offices commit to a partnership of shared values, purpose, and esprit-de-corps with their teams.
This week I would like to help you see your real effect on the dynamics of how your likeability can alter your success. So, once again you have some homework. If you will click this link, you can download the “Performance Appraisal Form for Doctor”. This tool will give you an unflinching description of how your patients and staff see you, the owner and doctor, as a component of the team. The protocol would be to have this appraisal sent to each staff member digitally to be filled out anonymously and then be printed and collated for your review. This takes a huge step of faith from you the owner, but can take a broken practice where the staff and patients don’t actually feel that you listen or care about changing the practice for the better to a cohesive committed team. Just to make sure that there is no mistake as to who needs to do this, it is everyone. If you feel that there will not be any benefit to taking the time to do this, then for sure, you need to do it. Once you have collated the entire teams’ comments on a clean appraisal sheet, it should be discussed briefly in a team meeting, and then posted in the staff area. At the conclusion of this meeting, the staff should feel like you are committed to improvement on your part. Doing this creates some reciprocity by now being able to do job reviews for your staff. The neat thing here is that you have and will continue to value their opinions and know that you are committed to doing better. This is the first step in decreasing staff drama and a high turnover culture to a long-term committed staff. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. Just in case you’re wavering in your resolve to take the action step of allowing your employees to give you feedback, condiser the following: “The average person is afraid of criticism. But the person who has no fear of criticism is more likely to succeed. This lack of fear is what keeps them from being average.” Roy H. Williams