Being the Leader in Your Dental Practice

March 24, 2018 3:08 pm Published by Leave your thoughts


I’ve always expressed how important it is to foster good relationships and to think of those that work for your dental practice as “team members” rather than “staff”. It’s good for them, it’s good for you, it’s good for everybody. However, sometimes the dental practice owner has to step into their responsibility as the leader.

The owner has to wear a lot of hats. In addition to the already challenging work of being a dentist, they’re in charge of hiring, scheduling, marketing, finances, and many other business-related tasks that we weren’t taught in dental school.

As the leader of the practice, the dentist has the responsibility of managing their team, and sometimes that can be unpleasant. In fact, things like firing, discipline, or even just setting expectations can be a real struggle for many dentists, who often want to be nice.

Nice is great, but don’t let it bring down your dental practice. Sometimes, you’ve just got to be the boss.

Management isn’t about being friends.

Whether a team member is underperforming or they just wear a perfume that’s too strong, many dentists are afraid to provide critical feedback. They don’t want to offend or hurt someone’s feelings, but in reality, it is a disservice to everybody.

When performance isn’t meeting expectations, it should be discussed. Not only will not talking about it fail to fix the issue, but I believe that every team member has a right to know where they stand.

I clearly recall sitting in with the owner of a practice as he let someone go whose performance wasn’t up to snuff. To the owner, it seemed a long time coming. To the team member, it came out of nowhere.

In fact, it turns out the practice had been regularly performing performance evaluations, but the doctor had never participated in them (they came from the manager). Review after review rated the team member as performing above expectations; the doctor and the manager were clearly not communicating.

This was clearly a situation of a shy, quiet-spoken doctor that was afraid to reprimand, which was why he didn’t do reviews himself. That employee didn’t know that they weren’t meeting the expectations of the boss until it was too late.

The Value of Criticism

When a boss cares too much about their employees, it can be hard to give criticism or any kind of negative feedback. Empathy is generally a good trait, which is why I always pair criticism with a compliment.

Criticism should be clear and polite, and praise should be specific and sincere. Without criticism, we fail to improve. Good criticism comes from a place of wanting to teach or coach so the subject can develop their knowledge or skills further. To be so nice that you fail to help a team member get on the right path is to fail them, yourself, and your dental practice.

Sometimes, one of the greatest kindnesses you can show someone is to politely criticize them, helping them to be more successful down the road.

To learn more ways to constructively criticize your employees, contact Sunrise Dental Solutions.


~Linda O’Grady

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