Dental team problems holding your practice back?

I want to write about a book that has had a profound impact on my life - "Leadership and Self-Deception" by The Arbinger Institute.  The reason why it had a profound impact on me, and I think it might you as well, is that it opened my eyes to some issues within myself.  In the book they discuss, at great length, the concept of Self-Deception.  Self-Deception happens when we justify our behavior to make ourselves feel better about something.  Here are a few examples:

Not too terribly long ago, my wife and I had our third child.  At that time I was working some pretty extensive hours with my business and traveling a bunch.  When home on the weekends, I found myself pretty worn out and in desperate need of sleep.  One night as Mason was screaming in the middle of the night, I woke up and, feeling quite tired, decided to lay there thinking my wife could and should take care of him.  The next morning when she asked if I heard him, I said, "no, I was really tired."  Now in my head I was feeling justified as I was exhausted, stressed and really needing some sleep.  I would guess if someone asked her, she would probably say the same thing.  As I laid there pretending to be asleep getting upset that she wasn't getting up with him, I actually got upset at how slow she was to get up.  What I find interesting about all of this is that I thought I was totally justified in my thinking and actions, after all I was really tired and stressed.  The fact I actually got upset she didn't respond quickly enough, is even more embarrassing in hindsight.  Why is it that some of us get so wrapped up in ourselves that we actually get angry when the other person fails to think of us first when in actuality, we certainly are only thinking of ourselves?

As an outcome of reading this book, I actually contacted a former boss of mine to apologize for this sort of behavior.  When he became the new boss, I had been in my position for a while and had been quite successful at it.  Then this new guy came in that, from my perspective, didn't really know what he was doing.  To say we disagreed and had conflict would be an understatement.  So after reading this book and considering my behavior, as it related to my former boss, I sent him a note asking if he had read "Leadership and Self-Deception?"  I then commented to him that after reading it and thinking about my relationship with him, that perhaps I made our first year working together far more difficult than it needed to be.  Can you imagine the shock he must have felt to have someone he no longer manages and would never have future contact with to apologize for poor behavior a few years earlier?

Here is the point I am trying to make and how it relates to a dental office or any relationship.  All too often in life, we get caught up in our own pursuits, so much so that we will step on anyone that gets in our way.  We will throw them under the bus to advance our cause.  The example of my wife not taking care of Mason quickly enough, or me not treating my former boss well, and creating conflict, are both personal examples of this.  Within in dental offices, how often does one person get consumed with what is important to their role and actually undermine the success of the entire practice?  When perhaps the reality of the situation is that if that one person offered to help others with their tasks, it would be better for the practice overall.  Sadly, people get so caught up in what is important to them, or looks good for just them, that the overall business suffers.

One example that often gets ignored by the clinical team is jumping on the phone to help fill the schedule.  Sometimes the clinical team gets focused on clinical tasks when perhaps it would be more impactful to get on the phone with patients.  After all, who knows the clinical needs of patients more than the clinical team? Another example, I was in an office a while back that the doctor sits and reads books when not with patients. Now, I realize that it is his practice and thus he can do what he wants, but how impactful would it be to the team and a patient if the doctor answered the phone? I do know a few offices where the doctor is this involved and I have heard feedback from patients (ones I have referred to this office) and they are blown away.

The issue is that we often aren't thinking enough of our team mates and others in general.  I personally believe this thinking is the cause of many relationship failures.  If one isn't getting whatever they want out of a relationship (relationships of all kinds) the person on the other end of the relationship tends to not give the relationship their A Game and the vicious cycle continues.

So what can we do within the dental office to have a positive impact on this stuff?

Look beyond your own needs. Look to the needs of your team and the business as a whole.  Otherwise you might look like the sole rock star on the team and be unemployed as the business closes.  I am not sure how much that will help any one person.

Darren Kaberna 

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