May 10, 2023
Let’s face it: your team, regardless of the number of team members you have, runs your practice. They drive the success of your business, sell your dentistry, enhance the level of care you provide, and without them, you essentially don’t have a practice. The challenge is that you may be facing an organizational crisis right now without realizing it!
Recognizing Organizational Hostages
Organizational hostages are easy to identify unless you’re in the middle of one. It can be a blatant seizure with demands, or a very subtle progression – either way, it’s very dangerous. For example: if the practice tolerates certain behaviors of a certain team member because he or she is the “only” one who knows the system, the software, or how to pull the reports and post payments, then they might keep their position because they’re the only one who knows the job. If you find yourself unable to make a change or implement a system because of an employee, you are now in a hostage situation, and your ship may be sinking! There are several ways this situation can take shape; here are some common situations and how you can fix them.
Relationships are one of the most important areas in your practice and have the largest hostage demand. If you feel any of your patient’s relationships would be in jeopardy, or if one or more individuals were to leave because you did not meet their demands, you have a hostage situation. Also, if you rely heavily on a single employee, it may seem that patients might take their business elsewhere if something were to happen to them, but this is not necessarily the case. They came for you, and although they talk to that employee more often than you, the reality is you are the relationship!
Never miss the opportunity to connect with your patients, either. Morning huddles are an ideal opportunity to find out, from your team, inside information such as a birth, a loss, or a cause for celebration. Take two or three minutes at each appointment to face your patient without your mask, loops, and barriers. Strike up a casual conversation: “So tell me about you, how are you, what’s new since we last met?” Try to avoid questions like “Is everything okay?” Use open-ended conversation questions, as this will let them see you are human and not a provider.
Feeling as if you cannot let someone go until you have another to replace them is a terrible strategy. Even if the person in question is toxic, tanking morale, or putting out less-than-acceptable work, being forced to tolerate that behavior and poor performance because there is no successor shows the rest of the team what’s acceptable. Now you have not only a hostage situation but have also set a precedent for the future.
No situation can last forever and yes it may not end well – you want as few casualties as possible. It’s never too late to reorganize. Once you have decided to pull the trigger, you may be surprised at how the others will step up. It is critical that you use this opportunity to right the ship. Start over with everyone on the team concerning things like performance reviews, clear expectations (on both your parts), and clear consequences.
When it comes to employees you have two choices. You can either cut them out of your org. chart, or you can devise a plan to rehabilitate them. Their fate hinges on how they have performed, how they are to work with, the damage they may have already done, and their willingness to change. You must ask yourself if this is worth it. Often, we hear from doctors or managers “I don’t want to spend the time training, what if they leave?” Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay – which is worse? Train, train, train, and then train more! You must take the time, regularly, to train your team.
Before you decide if the person in question should stay or go, consider the ways to coach them. Not every difficult employee is a lost cause. Giving them a chance to steer the ship in the right direction could save you the cost and hassle of hiring a replacement. More importantly, it could inspire others to kick it up a notch!
About Next Level Consultants
The team at Next Level Consultants has helped countless dentists take their practices to a higher level, and they’d be happy to work with you next to help you realize and achieve your goals! If you have any questions about the blog or you’d like to contact the team for assistance, feel free to visit their website for further information.