How to deal with problems: Tips for managing everyday issues

October 24, 2019

Can you stop problems from happening? Of course not. But you certainly manage them.

There will be a problem every single day.

I understand that this sounds pessimistic, but it’s also true. Dentists and dental staff members who go to work thinking that there will be no problems that day are living in a fantasy world. Of course, there will be a few days without any problems, but they will quickly be balanced by other days with lots of problems. That’s the nature of business (and life).

So, you’re probably wondering: If it’s inevitable that I have to deal with problems, why even talk about this? Because there are ways you can approach the unanticipated problems that each day offers. Can you stop them? Of course not. But you can be more mindful about how you handle the pitfalls and potholes your practice must face each day. Here are some key ways to deal with problems:

  • Expect problems. Again, I know that this sounds pessimistic but it’s really the opposite. People who expect that there will be issues and problems in life, generally have a more positive attitude. How? There are “rational optimists”-people who deal with the problems through a positive attitude rather than pretending they won’t occur. Dentists who are rational optimists expect that there will be problems in a dental practice every day and recognize that those problems must be dealt with. When a problem occurs, their mind-set is: “OK, here it is. I’ve been waiting for it. Now I’ll deal with it.”

  • Plan for problems. Don’t let daily problems blow up your day. Peter Drucker, the genius management guru and founder of the modern science of business management, taught that executives should plan their day for the inevitable crisis. Regardless of the size of the problem, chances are it can be dealt with in a relatively short period of time-time you should pencil into every day’s schedule.

  • Use problems to your advantage. Problems can bring a team together. Instead of letting your staff be upset that an emergency was scheduled and now the practice is running late, encourage the whole team to pull together to solve the problem. If everyone expects the problem and works together to solve it, the practice will become stronger and more efficient. When practices live in a world of not expecting any problems, the blame game will begin, and staff members will start pointing fingers at each other. That is a downward spiral.

Denial may be a happy place to live sometimes but it’s not a way to operate a dental practice. Dentists who live and operate in reality know that problems will occur every day and know that it’s much better to expect them and face them head-on.

ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.

To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.