Applying the same theory for treatment planning in boosting dental practice culture can yield good results.
How many times have you had a patient suffering from severe periodontal disease and is adamant about only getting his or her “free cleaning?” And how many times have you banged your head against the wall trying to educate patients on the importance of a perio program to establish a solid foundation for their overall oral health?
Ironically, as an Executive Coach to dentists, I deal with the same conversation every day, except my patients are the doctors and their version of perio disease is a toxic culture. I can’t tell you how many times I explain to doctors the importance of building a strong culture as a solid foundation for growing their practices, and what I get back from them is their version of wanting a “free cleaning.” Excuses like, “If I could only fix this person,” or “If this person would change her attitude, everything would be better.”
With such eerie similarities, I wanted to treatment plan how to go from a toxic culture to a healthy one.
Culture Perio Chart: Take measurements to see the status and health of your practice. In this scenario, the bone is the culture of your practice, and the teeth are the people in your organization. Deep pockets are caused by toxic individuals. They bring disease and infection to those they interact with and slowly overtake the mouth. As your organization grew, you went from a healthy mouth to one that you resent and are afraid to show off in public.
Diagnosis: Your practice has high turnover, low morale, and issues with recruiting talent. It’s no secret. Everyone on the team knows you have issues. You try to overlook the gossip and poor attitudes with occasional brushing and flossing. You wash away interproximal bleeding from toxic and entitled employees with mouthwash, but it keeps coming back. You go through the motions every day, not accepting the fact that all these issues are causing bone recession and leaving you with a shaky foundation to grow a healthy, team-run practice.
Treatment Planning Phase 1: Address Urgent Needs. Identify which people are salvageable and which people are hopeless. Would you use a hopeless tooth as an abutment to your bridge? Keeping a hopeless tooth in place can compromise the integrity of the mouth, so it’s imperative for it to be removed. Now that we’ve removed the tooth, you can move forward and build a bridge between 2 stronger people on the team who are willing to carry the load.
Treatment Planning Phase 2: Scaling and Root Planing. Get down deep, cleaning up the culture with a new shared vision for the practice focused on teamwork and accountability. Take the time to sit down with every team member to get clarity on job roles and expectations. Set individual goals to get back to healthy numbers.
Treatment Plan Phase 3: Restorative Care. Now that we have a healthy foundation, it’s time to get to work. Salvageable people may need an emotional root canal but can bounce back tougher with a crown of accountability. Think of continuing education as fillings that can fill in knowledge gaps and take your people to the next level. Implant better and stronger team members to fill in the voids. Finally, whiten your smile with constant kudos and encouragement.
Treatment Plan Phase 4: Maintenance. You’re on the path to a healthy mouth. You’ve done all the hard work. Now it’s time to continuously check to see where you need to make minor corrections and adjustments. Can toothaches still occur? Absolutely, but hopefully you’ll catch it when it’s small and treat it accordingly.
As a practice owner turned Executive Coach, I speak from experience. I’ve lived through the nightmare of toxic culture and I’ve come out the other side with the help of Fortune Management guiding me through the treatment. With so many resources at your disposal, why choose to go it alone?
Acting is sometimes the hardest part. However, just like your patients and their oral health, there are always options to reverse an unhealthy situation in your practice with toxic employees. The situation, however, will never get better until something is done about it.