Howard Farran has an excellent opinion piece in his March 2015 Dentaltown Magazine. The essence of the article is “letting go”; about the toxic effects of micromanaging coworkers. As usual, Howard makes good sense and simplifies a complex issue of human relations.
As I read Dr. Farran’s column, I reflected on my own experiences in dental practice, that of trying to act as human resources manager. It was another hat that didn’t fit my head.
I had no training or even interest in managing people. In my first year of solo, independent practice I had staff turnover which led to loss of my stomach lining, frustrations with feelings of self-pity and questions of “Why Me?” My attitude was one of “you can’t depend on anyone-maybe I have to do everything myself.”
When I looked at my schedule and commitments it was abundantly clear that I was either going to deal with the reality of selection, hiring and training of coworkers or find another occupation.
I decided to discover how to hire the seventh person first.
Dr. Farran didn’t address his auxiliary selection and training process, but in my case I began by looking at how other industries dealt with the critical issue of hiring coworkers. It was apparent I needed to follow a systematic process which involved expense and time. It was not a single event, but a continuous process.
It also required a change in my attitude, i.e. “Let Go” as Dr. Farran advises. I needed to listen to my staff. The longer I listened to my staff before telling them my views, the more I was able to get from them. This change in process tended to bring my auxiliaries closer to the practice.
Another important lesson learned is that you teach/learn skills, but it is very difficult to change who one is as a person. Therefore, the more we understand who we and others truly are as people, the greater likelihood of being a successful manager of others and building a successful team.
Decision making involves analyzing the problems and asking oneself a series of questions:
Who am I? What are my strengths and areas of developmental needs? (Which is an aphorism that avoids the term “weaknesses.”)
Who are you? What are your strengths and developmental needs?
How can we, given who we are, best relate and work together?
Cliff Katz, DDS, PhD, suggests that from the dentist’s perspective, “When I hire you, what am really getting and how do I best utilize your talent and personality to benefit the practice and how do I manage around your limitations?”
Dr. Farran says, “Business is about managing three things: people, time and money….80% of it is people.”
In my view, the “people part” of practice is the most challenging. Dealing with hiring and selecting compatible coworkers in a systematic and scientific method instead of random acts can result in powerful outcomes. Establishing a sense of community results in each person benefiting; the staff, the doctor, and most importantly, the patients.
William T. Brown. D.D.S.