The business of dentistry has changed. Thirty years ago, a dentist could operate profitably, accepting insurance or practicing on a fee for service basis. Emphasis on refining day-to-day methods was not an issue when overhead was lower, and income was higher. Today’s dentist faces increasing competition from a corporate business model, a narrowed profit margin in this ever-changing insurance landscape, and pressure to oversee multiple locations. It is essential to move the entire staff in a unified direction. Jen Butler offers this insight into effective leadership coaching to dentists wanting to create teams that evolve with the dental industry.
What can be missing from a coaching approach
There are plenty of coaching tools available to business owners and managers. However, wearing the hats of CEO and dental practitioner simultaneously you may see that three elements often fall short.
Dentistry is a specialized business. An individual is usually drawn to the field with a passion for helping others, and a natural inclination for meticulous attention to detail. That description does not include “business management acumen.” While dentists are often accidental business owners, office management skills and oversight can be learned . . . with a consultant who understands the nature of the dental profession.
“Leadership” is a concept that can be hard to define – one of the reasons meaningful guidance may be missing from a program of coaching. It helps to understand what leadership is NOT. It is not forcing others to follow artificial rules. It is not pursuit of bottom line at all costs. It is not micromanagement or discipline. In many cases, it is not even inspiration. Leadership is the art of motivating others toward a common goal.
The most important element of a successful leadership coaching program is recognizing the personality of your business – the collective beliefs, customs, and intellect unique to your practice. Training that does not acknowledge the character of your business cannot be successfully implemented or contribute implicitly to sustainable growth.
Personalized leadership coaching from a recognized expert
It starts with acknowledging the personality of your practice in a three-step process:
- Identify the culture that exists – It is relatively easy to analyze systems and steps that constitute WHAT you do. It is much more difficult to take a hard look at HOW you and each member of your team go about doing those things. It becomes obvious that a lot of “sacred cows” (when the only explanation for a flawed process is, “because that’s how we’ve always done it”) must be sacrificed. A thoughtful trainer takes the pain and blame out of these revelations.
Example – You have an online appointment booking application, but you do not reserve that time slot until a member of your administrative staff reaches the patient by telephone to confirm it. By then, the date and time may already be booked to another patient. Your practice is known as “high-touch,” yet this aspect of the culture diminishes your helpful reputation.
- Define an ideal culture – There is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and you wouldn’t want your practice to be just like your competitors’. Yet it is important to evaluate, with an open mind, what is holding you back, and focus on what will propel you forward.
Example – You realize that you must embrace the corporate efficiency and patient convenience of automated processes, while finding other methods to support your culture of personalized attention.
- Outline a strategy for change – Step one shows where you are now. The second step helps you see where improvements can be incorporated to maintain and enhance the personality of your practice. The third step is a clear, written plan of action to get there.
Example – A follow-up call to check on the patient’s condition after treatment could be a better illustration of compassion.
Kudos to you for taking time to grasp this foundation of a successful plan of leadership coaching. A qualified, experienced trainer guides you in sharing this discovery with your team, and implementing change with their full buy-in.
Jen Butler is a Board-certified coach with more than 25 years of background, much of it specific to the dental industry. She and her team at JB Partners provide hands-on guidance and proven step-by-step solutions that preserve the personality of your practice. Call 855-599-6030 to learn more about becoming the leader your dental practice needs.