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Mindy Altermatt, FAADOM is a professional coach, speaker, and leadership champion to dental leaders. She’s a veteran of the dental industry with experience in insurance processing on all levels, practice management, and team development. During her years as a practice administrator she achieved fellowship distinction with the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM), and in 2007 was named their Office Manager of the Year. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her on the web at www.mindyaltermatt.com.
Collaboration. By definition, it’s simple. When put into action in our businesses, it can transform a team from surviving to thriving! However, it’s also a word that can instill fear and apprehension to those who are the busy leaders put in charge of managing the team and driving production all at the same time.
Collaboration: to work with another person or group to achieve or do something
I’m a strong advocate for teambuilding, teamwork, and all things team related. I also understand that it can be difficult to let go of that feeling of wanting to avoid the drama and time involved with getting everyone’s opinions and ideas. I could go on and on, but here are four strong reasons for fostering an environment of collaboration in your businesses:
Leaders don’t have to give up control. Not every decision in the practice needs to have the input of the whole team, but we often miss opportunities to collaborate on small things such as problem solving within departments, creating a top notch patient experience, or how to schedule for maximum efficiency to name a few. The more we look for opportunities to get our team member’s input, the more heard and valued they feel.
Leaders empower their team to build communication bridges. The very nature of working together means that you have to communicate and this is often where the breakdown occurs. When you hit a sink hole of differing opinions it may be hard to move the decision process forward. That’s where active listening comes into play for the leader. Active listening requires you to listen intently, but also ask questions to clarify and confirm. Once you have all of the information and everyone is heard, you can suggest a plan or action that incorporates as much of everyone’s input as possible. When employees are truly heard, their feeling of value in the practice increases exponentially. Not to mention you’re leading by example and fostering this valuable skill in everyone.
VIDEO: See Mindy talk about the importance of authenticity in the dental practice
Leaders can build a team synergy that’s transformational. By working together people can achieve a level of success that isn’t possible if we operate within our typical independent silos. Teams that collaborate and communicate can manifest things for the business such as lower costs, higher production, increased abilities, and more flexibility to adapt to change. From that place the transformation from surviving to thriving isn’t simply possibleâ¦ it’s inevitable!
Leaders who utilize their team’s resources to the fullest have higher employee retention. Every team needs vision, goals, and structure to enable it to operate at maximum efficiency. It needs strong leadership with quick decision making abilities, but along the way incorporating a collaborative environment empowers every team member to step into their roles in a more engaged, and ultimately fulfilled way. With each team success comes a strong connection between the individuals and the team as a whole. Individuals will become more adept, confident in their value, fulfilled in their career, and ultimately invested in the success of the team.
A collaborative leader is one who understands and embraces the power of innovation, teamwork, and focusing on your team members’ strengths. It also take lots of practice to incorporate it into your leadership style. If you’re not a collaborative leader, start small and practice daily. Be sure to get everyone’s ideas/input, listen and clarify, come up with a possible solution, and ask for feedback on that solution. It’s not always possible to get the whole team together to make a decision, but you can collaborate within the varying departments of your business. Monitor how things and people change when you increase collaboration. Look for additional ways to work together in an innovative and positive manner.
If you’re already a collaborative leader, I’d love to hear about how you and your team work together and the difference it’s making in your business. Please share your collaboration stories in the comments section of this post.
Editor's Note: Photo used in this article is "US Navy 110918-N-ZF681-266 Sailors heave a fuel line aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) during a replenishment at sea" by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Farrington.
Editor's Note: This article previously appeared on the OneMind Health blog. OneMind Health is a technology company with a unique system that helps dental practices get paid faster from insurance companies and patients with much less work and stress. The company says its mission is to be the connector/translator that can get the various players in the dental world to be “of One Mind,” and do what’s best for the dental patient.