There are a number of strategies that can be implemented in the practice to ensure a positive and dynamic environment.
Most of them begin with addressing your own mindset.
As a business manager, one has to take responsibility for the happiness and motivation of each member of your staff.
Involve yourself from the onset
In my experience I often hear the following comments: ‘It’s not for me to deal with, it’s their problem’, or ‘let them work it out themselves.’ This stand-back approach does have its benefits. However, it is often over-utilised by busy managers who use it to avoid involvement. It’s all about timing. Step in too early and you become part of the problem; stand back for too long and you will be faced with irreversible damage.
- Put thought into your timing
- Ask others in your team who are not involved in the conflict whether they believe your intervention is required
- Encourage others in your leadership group to extinguish spot fires, then oversee this
- If in doubt, take action – procrastination can only do you and your whole team great harm. Like it or not, your role includes ‘counselling’ your team members at times.
A positive mood is fundamental
The most important factors within a happy team and work environment are communication, friendship and fun and these factors rate higher than pay rises and staff amenities.
If you’ve forgotten the art of laughter you will find it difficult to genuinely connect with staff. As a principal or manager, your role is to propagate morale, even if it means taking yourself a little less seriously at times. You need to create a mood that allows people to feel comfortable.
Communication with tiered meetings
Instigate as much communication in the work place as possible. Try not to hold military-style weekly meetings for all the staff.
Less regular and more spontaneous meetings can be extremely effective in motivating your team. Also, encourage tiered meetings. That is, organise a meeting, say, for nurses only, or maybe one for the dentists. Different combinations of meetings held less regularly generate communication on different levels between staff members.
Respect and feedback from the principal
Nurses are motivated differently to reception staff, and differently to dentists and dental hygienists. However, the common thread across our entire team is the need for positive feedback and respect. Positive feedback requires you to tell a team member the particular reasons why you are proud of them and are happy with their overall performance. Praise needs to be given directly to the individual, at times privately and at times in an open forum.
Managing confidence levels of your team
I offer numerous workshops with Glenys Bridges, we delve deeply into factors relating to confidence levels. The following areas are some of the reasons staff can be mismanaged:
- The need we have for ‘total control of our environment’ and the resulting associated stress
- Flawed goal setting principles for ourselves and our staff, where the end game is a constantly moving target and nothing is ever good enough
- Ineffective delegation principles and techniques
- The creation of a mindset in the team where successes are taken in our stride and failures are magnified.
Sheikha Pandey has a business background and qualifications in dental and non-dental business management. She was one of the first practice managers to obtain a formal qualification in dental practice management in 2006 and since then has focused on making businesses work stronger.