Can you define and articulate the culture of your practice?
This is an important question to ask because it impacts your entire team, who all play a part in determining what that culture is, which in turn affects your patients’ experience. And this is reliant on building interdependent relationships.
So, whilst building a great culture may not necessarily be something you’re currently focusing on, it is undoubtedly affected by two things you, hopefully, are prioritising:
- How well your staff engages every day
- What your patients experience every day.
Your culture is your identity and this permeates into every part of your business.
Culture is made by people, their attitudes and behaviours combined, and if you want a vibrant culture where everyone, including your patients, can thrive, then you and your team have a big part to play.
There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that you are managing culture through the performance of every member of your team, whilst also making sure that your patients receive a great customer experience with every visit.
A unified vision
Have a unified vision for your practice – a vision that is so simple and easy to communicate that everyone can be involved. Don’t make the mistake of setting a standard that is not easily attainable; your vision needs to be engaging and inspirational and something that everyone will want to come on board with. Remember…a great vision will be something that can easily be articulated and remembered by every person within your practice. This will ensure that every member of your staff is going in the right direction.
Give room for staff to grow and develop
Understand that everyone in your practice has the potential to affect the culture in both a positive and a negative way. Personal leadership is therefore essential. Are you giving your staff room to share ideas, grow and develop? Personal ownership of tasks and ideas is one of the best and quickest ways to help a team member feel that they are part of building the bigger vision.
As a dentist or manager, do you delegate with the bungee effect? Are you forever leaning over someone’s shoulder once you’ve delegated a task? Do you trust members of your team with projects they can call their own? Building trust means that you will have to ‘back off’ at the risk of members of your team not getting things right the first time around. Remember, people are more likely to take responsibility for those areas which they feel they can have real impact. Using great listening skills and involving members of the team is vital in developing a vibrant culture.
Appreciating one another
Take time to appreciate each person in your practice on a daily basis. This can be in the form of a simple ‘hello – how are you?’ Remember though that if you bother to ask the question, please take time to listen to the answer. Caring doesn’t cost much or take much time and building a caring culture will undoubtedly spill over into your patient experience, but first you need to care for your own team so that they have enough care in them to pass onto others throughout the day.
Smile! And mean it
Everyone knows when someone is faking a smile – I think you’ll agree it’s easy to spot – and pretending is not appealing. We also know that a smile can be contagious too and this is a very quick win for any business that wants to ensure that people feel safe and welcome when they walk through the door. Try to lighten up with your other team members, particularly those that may rub you up the wrong way from time to time. Remember you can sense friction just as easily as you can read a smile.
Leading through change
From time to time, leaders may need to change the strategic direction of the practice or the team. Bringing everyone on board can often be tricky, but if the vision is clearly outlined at the beginning of the process and the strategic change communicated in the right way then leading people through a change doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember that not all change has to come as a big surprise – open communication along the way should mean that your colleagues can see and sense the change coming, which is always helpful.
Incorporating these few steps in your practice will help you to create a vibrant working community where staff can excel and where your patients will feel welcome and want to return again and again.
Joy will be presenting Practice Plan’s 2018/19 Workshop Tour, exclusively for members, all about gaining the skills you need to put your patients at the heart of your practice and maintain a happy team.