AADOM Members |4 min read

Finding the Light After COVID-19 [3 Strategies for Leadership During the Pandemic]

AADOM Author, Aubrey Gralapp, FAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM Authors"

Do you all remember that bizarre day in March that turned your world upside down?

Actually, let’s take it back to the few days leading up to it. These were the moments that really defined us as dental office managers.

As different recommendations and guidelines started to trickle, it became a complete overload of information and fact-finding.

And then, depending on what state you’re in, you most likely received that one email that took your breath away.

For me, it was a state mandate to close our doors for two months. The rush of emotions and thoughts about the wellbeing of our team and practice commenced.

It was at this exact moment in time where the defining moments took place, and here’s what I learned from it all.

Strategies for leading through a crisis

1. Communication and planning

Open communication with your doctor/s is vital to successfully leading through a crisis. And honestly, to successfully run a practice at all.

During this pandemic, the doctors and I had countless conversations on what we needed, what we should do, and how we could make it through everything.

The most important meeting of all being the one we had immediately before announcing to the team what was happening. I believe that very meeting is what started us off on the right foot to come out of this situation better than ever.

We were prepared and united as the owner doctor led us into the unthinkable conversation with our team. All the communication and planning that went into that meeting was the key to making the team feel like we were ready to lead them through this crisis.

2. Stay connected

The next aspect to remember is the human connections we have while managing a crisis.

I’m not going to lie, I shed a few tears at the end of some days and worried about how we were all going to be affected.

Would everyone be okay? Multiple calls and texts with questions, worry, and concern went on for the next week or so.

And the bottom line was that everyone just needed to know I cared and wanted to help them.

After the initial shock wore off, we found the new normal way of connecting. Weekly virtual meets to talk about homeschooling, pets, when to plant tomatoes, and of course, a little trivia fun. It’s silly, but it had an impact.

A couple of times, I would walk my laptop around the office to say hi to the skeleton crew helping out emergency patients. The important thing to remember was that we all needed to feel connected and cared about.

3. Plan for reopening

Then started “the comeback plan,” and this is where I leave you with my final thought.

Be prepared for change, and prepare your team for change.

After countless hours of research and work by our leadership team, we created a thorough plan of how we could all safely come back to work. And then we brought the team back in and started training and practicing.

We practiced and practiced and practiced again. We were able to work out any flaws, handle PPE, and create touchless walkouts and check-ins with no reception area.

This preparation completely set us up for success. We were quickly able to learn the new normal with actual patients in place and get started on a new way of doing business.

Finding the light after COVID-19

These essential aspects of leading through a crisis were something that I had to learn hands-on.

Looking back, it almost feels as if it wasn’t real. But today, I know the skills I learned will make me a better dental manager going forward.

Meet the Author

Aubrey Gralapp wearing a gray lace top, pearl earrings, and black framed glasses against a beige background.Aubrey began her dental career nearly 20 years ago as a chairside assistant. Today, she’s the operations manager for Northview Family Dental, a large 3-doctor practice with a team of 25 staff.

She is the president and a founding member of the Northeast Washington AADOM Chapter… This text opens a new tab to the Northeast Washington AADOM Chapter website…. Aubrey was honored to receive AADOM Fellowship in 2018 and continues to be passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience with other dental team members (both clinical and administrative).

She and her husband enjoy living in the country with their two children and animals.



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