One of the most shocking discoveries of my dental career was the fact that my staff would consider blatantly disobeying a direct order of mine or violate a specific office policy to try to protect a fellow staff member.
I found this one day when I was questioning a team leader as to why she hadn’t done what she said she would do in relation to a new policy that I was sure would solve many of our practice’s problems. She simply said that she knew what she was supposed to do, but she just hadn’t gotten up the nerve to face the expected fallout of enforcing the new policy.
I was astonished by the honesty. Sure, my policy had been agreed upon, but it was obvious that there were kinks to work out. I also discovered a truth that day. The staff is more scared of what the other staff might say or think about them, than they are of any consequences I might bring forward for them not totally obeying my wishes.
Not totally good news, but certainly good to know. Now, I could have gone in there and started ripping apart all the parties involved, but would that have really been the best course of action? I think a better way is to make sure that your team leaders feel comfortable coming to you to get situations like this worked out to better everyone. More than once, I have set some of my office policies at odds against each other. This leads to conflict in the first place.
One time in particular I had made a big deal out of my office being able to squeeze in hygiene visits into the schedule in the afternoons because that’s when a lot of my patients wanted to come. I had impressed my scheduler that this was more important than any other policy. Then, I later took away 2 overflow hygiene rooms for a new idea that I had. I hadn’t really gone over all the reasoning of the new policy with everyone. I had just gone to the clinical team leader to make this “minor” change. My “minor” change happened to have far reaching consequences for both the front and back offices that I hadn’t seen coming. I had put the scheduler in a real bind. The scheduler didn’t really know to make these two conflicting policies mesh, and she knew that I didn’t want the hygiene production going down. Therefore, she chose to enforce one policy over the other, putting pressure on my clinical team leader.
In the end I took full responsibility for the mix-up because I didn’t make a big deal out of explaining my new policy. I just kind of threw it out there. I didn’t sell it at all.
My biggest mistake was thinking that my staff would come to me if there was an issue. No chance. My staff has a highly developed sense of secrecy when it comes to ratting each other out to the doctor. I’ll bet yours does too. When you do learn the patterns of their ways, you can break through your current production plateaus.
Once you discover the secrets that your staff members are hiding, you can break down the barriers that have sapped productivity and caused squabbling in your practice for so long. One of the greatest findings of Dr. Griffin during his consultation with dental practices has been that once everyone is aware of the few little things that have been nagging at them, they can resolve longstanding issues and enjoy fun, profitable growth to superstar levels. You can get your free CD explaining the 5 most common Staff Secrets at http://www.dentalstaffsecrets.com.