Team Building 101
I spend a lot of time talking about marketing your practice, continuing education courses in far away countries like Turks, Bermuda, etc., and staying out of legal trouble (e.g. when it comes to hiring / terminating staff and associates, leasing space, buying / selling a practice or incorporating).
I thought it would be worthwhile to devote a little bit of space to team building.
Old School Mentality
The old school mentality is that a dentist is the boss. And a boss dictates to staff what’s going to happen (top heavy leadership). And the staff are happy to receive a paycheck so they comply and are obedient. And so long as everyone knows their role, the practice functions. Entrepreneurship and creativity are frowned upon (unless you’re the boss). The office may have drama and disputes along the way. But the good news is that the boss can always discipline (even fire) a staff who is misbehaving.
But there are, in my humble opinion, inherent flaws in this model. First, the ‘boss’ may be missing something because they’re too busy dictating things from the top. Helpful suggestions from the ‘bottom’ aren’t heard or even welcomed. Second, it may be difficult to motivate your staff. If you’re a ‘boss’, you likely won’t be ‘inclusive’, won’t care to ’empower’, and heck, won’t even ‘care’ about what’s happening in your staff’s lives. You don’t want to give them the opportunity to reach a higher potential. Third, you’ll have less fun. Now, I know what you’re thinking: work is work and I shouldn’t have fun. But why the heck not? Why can’t you BLUR THE LINE a little bit between work and fun and make work fun? You’ll notice a few things if you do. First, you’ll find that people are happy to come to work and are self-motivated. Second, you’ll find that you can attract higher quality talent who want to work for you because of the ‘fun’ work environment. Third, your patients will see the office as a ‘fun’ place that they too want to be part of. Who wants to go to a drab dental office, anyways? Can you say “Competitive Advantage?”
Blur the Line
Now, I’ve introduced an idea that I’m pretty sure I came up with: BLUR THE LINE. And it’s my way of saying: take two things that don’t seem to fit and then fit them together by squinting a little bit (BLURRING THE LINE). So, for example, I’m big on working out. And I hate sitting at my desk all day long. So now our office goes to the gym at lunch or after work TOGETHER. We have gym memberships at the Fitness Institute. And guess what? We have lots of fun (both in anticipation of going and actually going). We motivate and support each other to go. We help each other achieve individual goals. And in the process, we also set a culture at the office: we want people who value their health to work here.
Language is Important
Now, you’ll likely have noticed (hopefully) that I have been using the word ‘boss’ and ‘staff’ above. But you want to get rid of those terms from your vocabulary. You want to use “Team”, “Team Leader” and “Team Member”. You want to develop an effective team. An effective team is comprised of individuals who share a common goal, who are motivated, who strive for continual improvement and who are led by a team leader (i.e. the dentist). The team leader sets the vision, sets the internal culture (e.g. we value being healthy), and seeks to help team members achieve their personal and professional goals. Team leaders don’t limit. They empower.
Today’s Younger Generation
Another reason why you want to use the right language and have the right mind frame in the office is because it helps today’s younger generation (starting work for the first time) cope with ’employment’, the ‘labour market’, and their ‘career’ for the next phase of their life. These individuals (and I can accuse myself of having been one) expect everything first before giving anything. And they feel and think of themselves as God’s gift to the world. They have learned enough in school to get themselves into trouble. But they lack the soft skills (like avoiding drama in the workplace, dealing with a disgruntled patient, or being part of a team). They demand to be motivated through money, benefits, etc. And when you show them how wonderful they are, they will deliver. Importantly, they want work-life balance and are willing to take a pay cut to get it. And finally, let’s not forget what kind of labour market we are in: a poor one for those entering. There is an oversupply of new grads but employers are looking for experienced team members to deliver. These factors paint a psychological disconnect between a ‘boss’ and an incoming ‘new grad’. And the way for everyone to get connected… you guessed it… is to build a team (and leave the ‘boss’ out of it).
I kind of like talking about team building, so I’ll dedicate a few more blogs to it in due course…