We recently had the opportunity to have dinner in one of the best restaurants in our area. The chef is well known for paring sea food and beef with unusual sauces and vegetables that enhance the flavors of all the elements involved. When our meal arrived we were not disappointed. The plates were a work of art and the food was wonderful. We choose to eat our salad after the entrée. When the salad arrived it too was a taste and visual delight.
The evening was most memorable however, for the unseen adversary that the chef and hostess were battling - Our Server. Let’s call him David. When we were seated our hostess advised us David would be our server. When he arrived we knew we were in for an “experience” even before he spoke. You could feel the negative aura before his first surly response. Everything David did was correct and “by the book” for a professional service person. However his attitude was so pervasive the wonderful food was diminished.
So what? The question is do you have a David in your practice? If you do what will you do about it? Just because our staff can do procedures and say correct words does not mean our clients are getting a positive experience. We do not know what David’s “problem” was but it was coming out without him speaking.
We must take time with our staff to educate them about proper and expected behavior. Our staff should be able to model what they see in us – a passion for helping others learn to help themselves, concern for the body, mind and spirit of those we serve, joy in providing the highest level of care we are capable of. Much of this comes with developing a level of emotional intelligence. This is the capacity to actively listen to others and to see and understand our emotional response to the situation at hand. It is imperative that we are able to trust our staff to say and do the right thing at the right time without us present. This is accountability.
How can we know that this is happening? We must take time to role play. You can call it “scripting” or any other term but there is no other way. You must be an active participant not the dictator. Decide on an issue to discuss. Work out how it will be handled and what will be said in detail as a group. People may not use the exact same words but the message must be the same. Empower the staff to help one another when they see someone need help. If someone on the staff is unwilling to engage and participate for the benefit of all that is a red flag. That person needs a private time with you and perhaps a path to another career.
Too often, we look for appearance, mechanical skills or a resume and forget that our staff is the presence and voice of our business that impacts clients far more than our technical time in an operatory. Our restaurant experience had three out of four elements right and was ruined by one person with a lousy attitude. Don’t let something going on behind the scenes in your office cause people to look for another dentist down the street.
Next post we will discuss how we chose to handle David and what we might do differently in the future.