Coach’s Corner | Team Cohesion Is a Work In Progress

I receive some great emails from my audience, and I appreciate you taking your time to watch/read the Coach’s Corner and be engaged to the point you are asking me follow-up questions. As you know, I love helping all of you so please keep emailing your questions to me.

The question I was asked was to explain what I meant when I say culture. I think the easiest way for me to explain this is to give a real example that has occurred with a client of mine and walk through the process. After you have written down your Mission and Vision of the practice, then it is time to define the Culture of your practice. For those of you who follow my Coach’s Corner each month, you already know I define culture as what is or is not acceptable. When I say acceptable, think of human behavior.

For this client, he kept referring to those he worked with as his team. He needed my help with a specific thing that kept happening in his practice. Even though he created the mission and vision of his practice (on his own) he thought that would stop some items from falling through the cracks. There is a reason why I always advocate for the Mission and Vision to be created as an entire team – so everyone has input, and their opinions are heard. Having it done with their involvement assures the group will start working as a team. That part is extremely important as this client found out. Defining the culture of your practice is really where the rubber meets the road.

As I’ve said before, culture, as I define it, is what is acceptable or not acceptable in your practice. For my client, the issue that needed to be addressed was accountability with each team member. Some felt that they did not have to complete their assigned tasks and/or someone else would always be there to pick up the slack. The problem arises when that behavior is allowed to continue. This behavior is the antithesis of being a true team member. Letting someone else do the job that you are responsible for cannot continue for the well-being of the practice. This will breed distrust among the team and, if that behavior is allowed to continue, will bring into question the leadership of the doctor in the practice.

Together, the doctor and I corrected this issue. After I explained all of these steps to my client, he understood the importance of involving the team in every part of the process. Clarity of everybody’s role and responsibility is something that I cover when I create the vision statement of the practice. That is crucial so that your team members understand who is responsible for what task. If you are acting as a true team, you should be able to anticipate the next move of your teammate. It really should be that simple within your practice. The cohesion of the team is created when there is trust between team members that they will be accountable for their role within the practice. That is why culture is paramount to your team cohesion. If a team member is allowed to pawn their responsibility onto another, then that is what is acceptable in your practice. If that behavior is acceptable then that behavior will continue to occur in your practice. If, however, that behavior is not acceptable, then that behavior will stop. These are the conversations you need to have with your team and discuss your culture as a team so that everybody is on the same page.

The next step requires the leadership of the doctor. You have created and written down your culture – meaning the behaviors that will be expected as well as the behaviors that will be avoided by your team members. For example, gossiping is a behavior that is not allowed for your team members. Please keep in mind, especially in the beginning, that it will take the daily leadership of the doctor to make sure human behavior changes in your practice. Once you have taken the time necessary to create the culture that you desire in your practice, you will always fight to keep that. This means that the accountability segment and the team cohesion are something that you will always expect your team members to uphold.

There is an additional benefit that will separate you from other employers in the area. When hiring a new team member, you will have a written mission, vision, and culture to share with them. By having these ready to share with new team members, there should be no confusion about the expectations the doctor and the team will have for future new hires. This is a competitive advantage for you and your practice. Having these items written down proves how much you care for your team and ultimately for your patients and the care they receive in your practice.

Please reach out to me via email at lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com with any questions you have or if you would like to schedule a complimentary call.