Dental Management Without Accountability = CHAOS

Pamela Goodman, MAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

Do you find yourself saying, “No matter what I do or what I say, the chaos seems to spread from one situation to another, then start all over again?”

I have a team of wonderful, knowledgeable, and capable ladies. Everyone is a blessing in her own way, but together it is a constant struggle of finding a happy medium.

Shockingly, the previous office manager of 25 years fell, hit her head, and passed away. The office went for five years without a manager.

Numerous employees have been there for 15-30 years. However, I cannot figure out how they achieved such longevity with the attitude they possess about one another.

Because of this situation, it has been a revolving door of new employees and constant contention.

What can I do? How can I try to prevent turnover? When taking on this role I was told that it was a great position, but my biggest issue would be the staff.

That I would be working with an amazing dentist (he is to a fault the most wonderful dentist I have ever worked for), a knowledgeable staff, and faithful patients. While true, my head spins with complaints.

I have been shocked and never experienced a staff that can be so great but is never complimentary or encouraging to one another.

After numerous talks and meetings with the staff, we decided as a team that not having systems in place has allowed everyone to do what they choose and not be responsible to follow through with all aspects of their position.

Everyone feels that without accountability, it created chaos and a constant complaint with each other. In my opinion, it’s what caused “bad blood”.

On top of that, this amazingly productive office didn’t have a mission statement in place, nor any goals established or discussed among the staff.

Nobody has a “reason” other than their paycheck, or a direction they need to be reaching for. This scenario makes every day just a series of motions without a purpose.

Due to all this “crazy” we needed to tame, we, as a team, decided to do the following:

1. Talk with each other and work out the difference.

2. Stop the open-door concept of complaining. If there’s a complaint or issue with a particular staff member, both team members must meet together with me, and the situation is to be talked about between all of us. This stops the feeling of animosity between each other or feeling like you’ve been “stabbed in the back”.

3. Staff cannot come with just a complaint, but must also have what they believe is the solution.

4. There needs to be a positive presented along with the negative.

5. Before the day starts at the huddle, ask their 1-10 status… This opens the door up to knowing where everyone is at and that someone may be having a low for the day and need help.

6. Search and determine what our “why” is and share it so that everyone can understand where each of us are coming from.

7. Set personal improvement goals for the workplace and home. What can we do to help each other reach them?

8. Set office goals. What are they? How can we reach them?

9. Create systems for every job/task. Systems make it easier to train a new employee and secondly, each person knows exactly what is expected of them.

10. Each employee needs to be aware of their presentation. Their personality, smile, body language and how they leave an impression.

11. Each individual needs to respect one another and understand each other’s differences.

12. Employees need to focus on effective communication. This includes word gestures, facial and body language, and tone of voice.

13. Understanding that it is natural to migrate towards an employee that is happy and upbeat versus the stern, cranky face.

14. Create a kudos bowl where each employee can add a bit of encouragement and “feel good” emotion to the morning huddle the employee that receives the “kudo” reads each one aloud. This process can add a few minutes of your huddle time but has been a “lift me up” that I feel helps the staff realize they do not go unseen.

As a leader, focus on and being self-aware of your presentation. It will make you a better manager and increase the happiness in your environment.

Ask each employee to discuss what it means to them to be a team player. Plan to hold daily, weekly, and monthly meetings.

These moments are important to discuss your day, direction, issues, improvements, successes in every aspect of the operations of your office.

I am sure there are a million more things we can do to try to bring our staff together and make the days flow a lot easier, but these are the things we are tackling first and working on.

If you have a similar problem, try focusing on these issues first to help get your office back on track. In time, you can make your office a happier and less stressful environment to spend our day working together as a team/family.

Meet the AuthorPamela Goodman smiling in a black dress outside

Pamela has thrived in the dental industry for over three decades. She has been an AADOM member since 2017. In 2020 she received her AADOM Fellowship, (FAADOM) and earned her AADOM Mastership, (MAADOM) distinction in 2021.

A native of Ohio, she enjoys spending time with her family being outdoors, doing things like gardening, cycling, or riding Harleys with her significant other, Phillip. She says that “building a relationship with our patients and seeing their happiness is my ultimate career goal.”

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