Coach’s Corner | How to prevent the Great Resignation/Reset at your practice

There has been a lot written about the “Great Resignation” or “Great Reset” in recent months due to the lack of potential candidates to fill open positions in dental practices across the country.  I was emailed a question from a dentist that I have not had the pleasure of working with …yet. His question was this… “I am fortunate that my current team is still with me. I read about the horror stories from other practices, and I do not want that to happen to my practice. What can I do or is there anything I can do to prevent this?”

I had the pleasure of telling this dentist that there is something he can proactively do. I asked him many questions about his leadership style and what he thinks his strengths and weaknesses are regarding his vision, mission, and the kind of culture he has in his practice. His answer did not surprise me because he shared that he had never put anything down on paper. I told him there’s no time like the present to have a team meeting and start writing it down. Even though we had never worked together before, he did read my book, You Can’t Coach Quit.  He got as far as writing down his mission and his core values on his own and he wrote something he thought would work as a vision statement. The manner in which I help teams write their vision statement is very comprehensive in nature. What he wrote down was not specific enough and needed the input from his team. We discussed what he created for a moment, and I gave him more feedback on how to do that with the involvement of his team. The bigger question is always why is this important and how do I do it. Things like leadership were never taught in dental school and at times seem like a very vague concept. From my experience, when something is vague that’s not a good thing which is why I created the leadership coaching model.

I have found if I can find an analogy that everyone can understand, teaching a new concept is easier for the entire team involved. That is why I created the leadership coaching model. As a seasoned basketball coach, it is easy for me to use sports analogies for your dental practice.  I find that no matter what generation the dentist and the team belong, everyone can relate to understanding what a coach does. Being able to visualize what I’m talking about is really important when discussing leadership. For those that are used to reading my newsletter, the Coach’s Corner, you already know how much I stress this as an easier way to lead people. Leadership comes in a lot of forms, and I find that this is an easier start to understanding the idea since it can be such a new concept. Here is the structure of my leadership coaching model. The doctor is the head coach, and the office manager is the assistant coach. As both the head coach and dentist, you need to have a philosophy of how you want things to be done and how you want everybody to be treated whether that be within your team or with patients. In any sport you’ll know what play you want to run depending on what is happening at that moment. In the dental world the play is how you want things to be done in your practice on a daily basis. It is your responsibility to layout the plan which is your playbook so that each player understands their role. When it comes to culture, I define that as what is and what is not acceptable. For example, if you decide that gossip is not acceptable then no longer will that be present in your practice. If everyone needs to take a turn and collect the trash in the practice, then that’s what’s going to happen. As the head coach when you blow your whistle do you want your team running to you or walking like they have no purpose? Of course, you want them to hustle and run to you. This is where team behavior can be explained and as the head coach you have the ability to use easy sport analogies so your team can follow your direction.

In other words, the head coach establishes all of these items for the team and the assistant coach(es) fulfill the goals-requests from the head coach. Let me use basketball for the following analogies: Every head coach knows what kind of players they need to recruit each season to put their team in the best position for success. They understand the style of play they want to use for the season, and they know the strengths and weaknesses of the players they are looking for. In order for them to know all of this, they know the culture they have built or what they are in the process of building. Remember I defined culture as what is or is not acceptable. I define it that way purposely since so many things fall under the culture heading or concept. Culture affects all of those things that cause you stress – how your team members act toward each other, their discipline, follow through, mental toughness- all the attributes and human behavior you feel everyone should have. Unless you are honest with your team and explain the culture you are building, how else can they understand what you are trying to do. They cannot read your mind about culture and that is why this needs to be discussed as a team.   

The great resignation/reset has occurred for many reasons. The way you proactively combat that is planning, communication, and organization. The more organized you are as the head coach of your practice regarding your expectations, the greater the likelihood your team will remain with you. In our industry we are blessed to work with people who genuinely care about one another. Bringing like-minded teams together for a common goal is really what you’re going after. The easiest way to do that is to use the leadership coaching model. When your practice has worked hard to achieve an environment where they can anticipate how their day is going to flow, they understand everyone will be held to the same level of accountability, and if it is a positive, fun place to work, your team will stay. That is why the entire team should come together and discuss what behaviors are and are not acceptable in your practice.

By focusing on your culture as a team, everyone has their voice heard and the team agrees as a unit. This will automatically bring people together but leading and influencing human behaviors can be a daily struggle. Your personal discipline will need to be used each day to keep the team together. As the head coach, use your assistant coach or coaches to further your plan. If you have a large practice, you may need each department head to be an assistant coach. The purpose is not to build any silos or egos, just the opposite. It is to help the head coach with the larger gameplan.

I know I have covered a lot of material when sharing the question asked by this dentist. If you need assistance with any or all of these pieces to your gameplan, please reach out to me via email, lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com.