Doctors keep asking, “What is going on with my young staff? They just don’t seem to see how their performance impacts the total picture of the office.” Remember when you got your first set of crayons or colored pencils? Some of us may still have a few of our early “art pieces” saved by our proud parents. Lines were not an issue; it was just fun to see color on paper. We then moved on to coloring books and started to learn to color inside the lines. Early on we had to really work to control our crayon but soon we mastered the technique. Those early exercises helped shape our personalities and our lives. These experiences are no longer universal. Our culture tells us “don’t worry about the lines – think outside the box”. Computer games and smart phones allow us to be “connected” but still be isolated from the physical presence of others. This is not the world of a dental office where we are intensely and closely engaged with our team members and clients Coloring inside the lines taught us that there are boundaries. If we stay inside the lines the image that is defined by the lines emerges crisp and clear. Others can look at our work and more easily grasp what is being expressed. We are not necessarily expressing our own concepts but passing along concepts that have been defined for us by the parameters drawn as lines by someone else. Doctor, have you thought about how clearly you have drawn the picture of your “ideal office” for your office team? Have you shared your personal philosophy with the team? Have you asked for their help in taking it from something on paper to a functional reality? Clear boundaries help your team establish a culture of accountability. When they see you demonstrate accountability it is easier for them to grasp the need for boundaries. Accountability also helps us learn that we are not necessarily telling someone exactly how to manage their roll but that they are accountable for their performance and for getting their job done in a manner that meets the office goals and philosophy. This is why morning huddles and team meetings have importance. The team needs to see the big picture and then come to agreement on how each member can be accountable to help everyone reach the goals.
Clarity of office philosophy, staff roles, job descriptions and office policy help staff confidently know the world in which they work. Once everyone, especially the doctor, is operating in a culture of accountability we can then begin to develop a culture of trust. When we are accountable and trust one another we can begin to work within the broad boundaries of the office philosophy. A mature and emotionally intelligent team can then discuss together how to achieve office goals that utilize each team member’s best skills as well as offer support where needed. This level of teamwork requires that everyone understands, and has committed to delivering, the highest standards of care that the office can deliver. This sort of team can expand boundaries and draw new lines that create a picture of a preferred future for all involved. Happy coloring! Blf032318