One of the most important traits of highly “effective” dentists is learning how to delegate. As I visit and talk to dentists around the country, I find a common consistent trend: Doctors find it difficult to let go and delegate all they can within the letter of the law. Surely we can all agree that having the ability to do less while accomplishing more is a win-win deal for everyone. So why wouldn’t a doctor take advantage of staff and systems by multiplying their ability to serve their patients while at the same time being more productive? I’ve made a list of some of the top reasons (excuses) given to me and used by doctors to justify not delegating certain jobs and responsibilities.
1. Staff just can’t do it as fast as I can do it. You think? Give me a break. We all started off slow and by repetition became quicker. If you don’t allow them to practice and repeat a procedure, how could you ever expect them to get better? Come on, I was in dental school and 97% of the doctors I graduated with were just barely not dangerous. Fast-forward through hundreds of repetitive procedures and most of us got pretty quick at it.
2. Staff won’t be able to do it as well as I can. Again, you weren’t that good to start with so reread excuse number one.
3. The staff doesn’t know how to do it. True, you never took the time to create systems, measure performance, and train your staff to do a lot of things, but it is precisely that habit that creates mediocre practices. Take the time to train, re-train, and modify and simplify systems until it is crystal clear. Your employees will either learn and implement or you have the wrong employees.
4. You are so non-assertive that you spend all this time talking and doing procedures that should be delegated because it makes you feel good about yourself. Seeing this over and over has brought me to the conclusion that these doctors are so insecure that they have to justify their fees by spending more and more time with the patients to feel good about themselves while getting poorer results. Remember: We want to produce more, collect all, and keep half. Generally speaking, your perception doesn’t matter. The only perception or opinion that matters is the patients. In fact, the patients would rather see and talk to the staff while you move on and attend to more important things rather than some mundane task that you could have delegated.
5. You are too approval addicted to delegate. It is true that many doctors self-worth comes from the affirmations they get from patients, but this isn’t healthy either. Share the glory with your staff and delegate. There is enough praise from patients to go around. You don’t have to be the center of attention to have a growing, healthy practice.
Our goal in life should be to step back and look at everything we do with a critical eye. We need to be both efficient and effective. Delegating everything you can is the quickest way to make this happen. Taking the time to train and implement this strategy will be the most effective way to get there. Your systems are precisely designed to give you the results you are currently getting. Better results are always achieved through better systems.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS — I know I got the lyrics wrong, but once you delegate properly, you will be singing “Celebrate, Celebrate, Dance to the Music”. The music you hear will be the sound of producing more, collecting all, and keeping half: A great tune that you just can’t keep from humming. This is how you Summit.