When someone asks you why you decided to become a dentist, I'm willing to bet you don't say "because I always wanted to be a business owner."
Most dentists have no interest in the business side of running a practice and would prefer to focus all their energies on diagnosing and treating patients. Unfortunately, that's why so many practices struggle.
You're the CEO of your dental practice. You're the leader, and if you haven't already, now is the time for you to truly embrace that role.
Still not convinced? Here's how shying away from your leadership duties could hold you back, along with four tips to make you a more effective, confident CEO.
1. Blurry vision means lost potential
Without a clear vision for your practice, you'll never meet your full potential. A vision helps ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.
If you don't have a practice vision, sit down with your team members to create one. Asking them for their input shows you value their opinion. It will also encourage them to take more ownership of any goals you set, whether they're individual goals or practice goals. They'll respect you more as a leader and will be more motivated to excel in their roles.
2. Team members' effectiveness
Your employees look to you for guidance. If you're not providing the direction they need, there's a good chance it will negatively impact their performance. Remember, they aren't mind readers -- no matter how long they've worked in the dental industry or in your office.
Providing team members with job descriptions, proper training, and continual feedback (both positive and constructive) will ensure they know exactly who's responsible for which tasks. This will make them more productive and less likely to experience conflict. They'll also be more confident, which will show through in how they interact with patients (see below).
3. Practice turnover
When employees don't have proper guidance, it often leads to low morale. They have no idea what your expectations are and simply feel lost. Instead of enjoying their work, they dread coming to the office each day. They spend their evenings looking for a new gig, and don't hesitate to move on as soon as they get another job offer. Which means you will need to go through the hiring process once again.
While you'll never completely eliminate turnover (there will always be those employees who move, after all), it can be significantly reduced if you take the time to properly train your team members and give them the direction they crave. They'll also be happier and more productive, which of course is good news for your bottom line.
4. Lower patient retention
Patients can tell when there's tension among team members or when they just aren't confident in what they're doing. This makes patients less likely to accept treatment you recommend, and it could prompt them to start looking for a new dental home.
What can you do?
Staying passionate about dentistry is key to operating a successful practice. But if you're constantly stressed out because you're dealing with a poorly trained team and mismanaged systems, it won't be long before you start to feel burned out. That's why it's so important to get the business side of your practice under control, whether that means working with a dental consultant or taking business classes.
I also suggest you make a commitment to learning new skills and new technologies that you can incorporate into your practice. Attend continuing education courses, travel to tradeshows, and talk with colleagues about what they do to keep their love for dentistry alive. This will help you stay passionate about what you do -- and excited to come to work each day.
If you lose your drive, both patients and team members will notice, which will only hurt your practice and your bottom line. As the practice CEO, you have to keep investing in yourself, your practice, and your team members, so you can continue to grow. Remember, team members will reflect your behavior and attitude, so it's important to stay positive and upbeat.
Owning a successful dental practice certainly isn't easy and likely comes with a variety of challenges you never anticipated. Improving your leadership skills will help you continue to grow your practice.
Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at email@example.com.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.