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Common Leadership Challenges in the Workplace

Dental Practice Ownership Challenges

Despite a rigorous selection process, the lion’s share of experience and development of leadership muscle in the dental practice tends to mirror the rest of the marketplace. The ongoing series of checklists, operations, and nuances unique to successfully leading a team is largely left to chance or essentially a “baptism by fire” approach. The profession self-selects a rather unique subset of the population obsessed with compassionate and nurturing care of its patients through a lens devoted to perfection. Yet, statistics show an unprecedented level of dissatisfaction amongst its rank and file. Why? Too often, dental professionals seek to address the how before identifying the why and what of any particular situation. Strategic pearls are put before any sort of purpose or passion. This cart-before-the-horse approach is widespread with no palpable end in sight.

Addressing and hopefully resolving this dilemma is the foundation and context of our work at Dynamic Dental Ascension. Having taken up the call to arms, your decision to pursue the profession of dentistry is actually a gift. The opportunity cost of taking a different trajectory is not pocket change. It is time to distill down the basics of your journey so far and where its potential leads.

In everyday life as a practice owner, you will be faced with relentless stimulation of the leadership muscles all while balancing the ongoing challenges of clinical responsibilities. The minds of a dentist do not necessarily cooperate either. Learning to appreciate a brief pause when assessing a situation will deftly parse the cause and effect while allowing a more effective response. The everyday trek is marked by numerous encounters with some being more noteworthy and worth exploring a bit further. Distilled out of many personal experiences as well as countless hours observing others, here are a few of the top most common instances where practice leadership is put to the test:

  • Premature Failure and/or Substandard Treatment Outcomes
  • Gossip or Status Trading Amongst Personnel
  • Chronic Illness and Absenteeism
  • Handling Raises
  • Negative Reviews
  • Premature Failure and/or Substandard Treatment Outcomes

Sworn to uphold clinical standards is essential to successful matriculation through dental school. There are no exceptions once in private practice except that the binary process of clinical care is no longer valid. It is not our desire or by design to engage in clinical failures or imperfect results. However, statistically speaking, they occur. Acknowledgment and ownership are essential. Treating others by the platinum rule and showing recognition by second-order acknowledgment will avert and diffuse any crisis. Taking pride and ownership in craftsmanship by reproducing an acceptable result or remedying the situation is the way.

Gossip or Status Trading Amongst Personnel

In society, there is no shortage of outlets to express or opine with almost no recourse. Oftentimes it is shrouded in electronic cover and brushed off. The dental practice is not immune to ill-fated attempts to gain at the expense of others. In an environment full of deadlines, emotions, sensitivity, financials, strict guidelines, exacting standards, et al, there is no shortage of tension. When faced with these ugly truths, it is imperative to hold to a standard. The culture of the organization should effectively serve the purpose of diffusing any attempts at undermining by virtue of its ability to provide a safe and inclusive environment where accountability is standard and grace is second nature. Start by engaging the offenders in their own honest dialogue and proceed from there on the premise of high standards and low tolerance.

Chronic Illness and Absenteeism

No leader relishes in the notion of questioning the validity of illness and/or the need to miss work for health-related reasons. However, there may come a point where an individual may call into question the limits of time off. Should this present itself, the deficit can deleteriously affect the mood and performance of the more reliable team members and cast doubt on the leadership of the organization. Taking the time to explore via active listening and reconcile the issues for the offender will lead to an effective solution or reprimand of either freeing them up to explore other more suitable employment opportunities or reform and get with the program.

Handling Raises

Who doesn’t respond favorably to the opportunity to increase their livelihood? Time and money are often deemed interchangeable units of measurement, at least figuratively, so when it comes to a request to increase compensation it is often marked by angst and uncertainty for many practice leaders. A meritocracy naturally rewards a progressive approach or ascension upon some sort of skills development path. All too often, raises are substantiated upon the past performance or essentially on an entitled basis. There could be some merit to this approach, but it is imperative to connect a salary augmentation with future outcomes and performance that fosters an advancement for the organization. This could entail a myriad of options, so it behooves the practice leader to continually explore options and solicit thoughts from the team.

Negative Reviews

Society lives and breathes by the ways of the internet, SEO, and reviews. Our social proof pivots upon optimizing what patients have to say about us online. When a subpar assessment arrives, it feels like an utter defeat by way of a lethal gut punch. Often referred to as NPS or Net Promoter Score, it enables a more rapid exposure to a greater TAM or Total Addressable Market when the reviews are optimized. Take a negative review as an opportunity to reflect and reassess. Remember, the patient is uniquely qualified to opine about their experience, and perhaps it was not the best that particular day. The humanistic and humble side of us all recognizes this and takes the feedback as a growth moment. It is only acceptable to respond maturely and professionally to all reviews regardless of their ranking. Over time, if the dominance is that of 5 stars, those occasional black eyes shall fade.

If this resonates with your personal situation, bear in mind, you are not alone. Many who have elected the same formidable path, have discovered the value of mentorship. Consider Dynamic Dental Ascension as a potential partner on your journey. Schedule a discovery call today!


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