Becoming a Leader’s Leader

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Become a Leader’s Leader by Training Your Staff to Lead

By Rhonda Savage, DDS

In the last year, I’ve been asked the same question over and over from doctors feeling the stress of staff and practice issues. As busy practice owners, these doctors see the frustrations of a loss of productivity, falling numbers and staff drama. The question they always ask is, “how can I be everywhere at once?”

Unable to see everything happening in their practice, they feel helpless or clueless of how to change their practice. They ask me, “how do I figure out what’s going wrong and encourage my staff to create a great practice if I’m busy trying to keep it from running into the ground?” I know how frustrating that feeling is, and I’m here to say, it doesn’t have to be that way. My answer to that question? To encourage your practice to work well, you need to become a leader’s leader.

This doesn’t just mean to lead your team, though being consistent and open with your team will help. To become a leader’s leader, you need to train your staff to be leaders. I know you can’t be everywhere in your practice at once, but you know who can? Your staff!

Creating a truly great team of leaders starts with opening up the communication between you and your staff. Is someone frustrated? Ask them to clarify and mediate that frustration. Do they have questions about procedure or accountability? Take the time to listen and train them in the necessary skills to be successful. By opening the communication, you encourage each team member to ask questions and care about the answers. By creating that value, your team will work better together.

Once your team is all on the same page, encourage them to be your leaders. Have a team meeting and talk about practice goals, find one goal you all agree on and assign accountability for it. Have a team goal of more diagnosis in the hygiene chair? Assign the goal of each assistant to talk up dental procedures, the hygienist to do more education about a diagnosis and the front desk encouraging a care plan before the patient leaves.

If you train your team to see and share the value of your practice’s work and be a leader in the workplace, you will see an increase in production, diagnosis and patient satisfaction.

This training can be a little tricky for some teams. You need to trust your staff to speak for you. They need to feel confident that they’re saying what you would want them to say especially in a difficult situation. Scripting is a valuable training tool for this goal.  Write down the common concerns and questions of your patients.  The doctor should then write the answer for the employee.  The goal is not to memorize the answer, rather, internalize the message and make it your own.

By encouraging each member of your team to become a leader in their space and become actively involved in the success of the practice, you can turn a frustrated team into one that works together, all for the same goal. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”


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