There are 4 critical staff needs that must be served by purposeful, engaged leaders in order to create an optimal practice culture.
Give them what they need!
Too often, I encounter dental practices that are suffering from one or more of the telltale signs of a doctor leading by default. Lack of purposeful leadership on the part of the doctor/owner results in an organizational culture that is at best sub-optimal and at worst destructive. These practices routinely suffer from low staff morale, excessive staff turnover, and more often than not, declining revenue. Furthermore, the doctor often struggles to see the real problem. He or she falsely identifies external problems as the root cause of their practices problems when, in fact, the problem lies squarely on their shoulders.
Numerous studies have shown that sub-optimal cultures can be reversed when default leadership is replaced by purposeful leadership and engagement on the part of the leader.
Four critical staff needs:
- Knowledge: Businesses that invest in their human capital are among the most financially successful businesses. As an added benefit, those businesses that provide training and prioritize knowledge also serve as a magnet for highly motivated people who are specifically looking for jobs with businesses that are willing to invest in their staff’s knowledge and marketability.
- Resources: This goes beyond the obvious financial commitment on the part of the leader. Knowledge and resources, although closely aligned, are actually quite different. Knowledge, being the facts, information, and skills necessary for one to perform at an optimal level, is different from resources, which are the supporting materials and other assets necessary to maintain and utilize the knowledge. Consultants and coaches, as well as software updates and support, are just a few of the valuable resources necessary to maintain and enhance the staff’s knowledge.
- Guidance: There can be a fine line between constructive guidance and destructive micromanagement. Those leaders that understand the principle of constructive guidance view themselves as facilitators, or coaches, striving to bring out the very best their people have to offer. They are unobtrusive yet very effective in their approach as a facilitator, providing the needed guidance without stifling their staff’s initiative and creativity.
- Support/Empowerment: Once you have a committed staff with the knowledge, resources, and appropriate guidance to be successful, there is one very important final step that will ultimately insure their success – GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!! This final step seems very simple yet for many of us it is the hardest step of all. By getting out of their way I mean let them flourish and take pride in their ability to act independently. For most doctors, this is the hardest step because when relinquishing our tight fisted grip on control, we mistakenly assume that we have placed our fate in the hands of someone other than our self. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
If the above steps are handled properly, we will create an environment that is both conducive to success and allows us to work at our best and highest level of efficiency. All we, the owner/leader, need to do at this point is offer our support and encouragement to these valued employees.