Fertilize Your Dental Practice

By Dick Barnes, D.D.S.

We must remember that we haven’t failed unless we fail to correct the problem. All great practices are run by remarkably ordinary people. It’s extraordinary how much ordinary people can accomplish if they are motivated to exercise their full capabilities.

When dentists realize that their auxiliaries know more about their jobs than they do, they are more likely to accept their staff’s recommendations and decisions. The fact is that auxiliaries are likely to make better decisions in matters that affect their job than dentists will. The secret for us dentists is to let our staffs get on with their jobs and get out of their way!

To get out of the way of the staff, dentists must face their fears of failure and change their behavior. This change will empower the auxiliaries with the freedom they need to be successful.

Many dentists fear that changing the duties involved with running a dental office is a process that can take weeks or months. This trepidation can be so serious that the desire to change is superseded by the fear of failing. This fear stems from dentists feeling apprehensive when they deal with members of their team.

While some dentists recognize the need for change, most will avoid instituting it and cling to the status quo mainly because they do not possess the tools they need to change.

All people resist change. It’s natural. This resistance is a way of affirming beliefs; if we accept change we say our beliefs may be wrong.

The urge to conform and the fear of failure frequently direct dentists and their staffs. Thus, many practices are doing dentistry in a way that worked 20 years ago and has proven to be acceptable. Numerous practices opt for this easy though less-effective way that is acceptable to others and requires less change from the team.

Resistance to change lets practices proceed along familiar paths, and familiarity is comfortable. Uncertainty upsets. To accept change dentists must meet with uncertainty, but they also may learn something new. So as dentists we must stop resisting.

In primitive countries, farmers fertilize fields by burning them. We can similarly burn our resistance and watch the lush fields of our practices grow.

Dental society frowns on failure. We must overcome the fear of being frowned upon. We can’t be afraid to fail. We must embrace failure. Failure means we are growing, striving, learning; that we are trying to shatter our assumptions that professionals don’t fail. We must remember that we haven’t failed unless we fail to correct the problem.

If the problem lies in changing our behavior towards our teams, remember that we too were not expert in the beginning. We must have faith and confidence in our teams for them to grow into what we want them to become. We must motivate them to exercise their full capabilities. Once they recognize our trust in them, they will perform outstanding feats of brilliance to win our approvals.

As dentists, we need to relax, loosen up, and not rush things. Becoming aware of needed change and doing something about it is a difficult skill. We need time to make it happen. Even if a change seems trivial, and it might be—we must do it anyway. We may feel awkward the first few times, but as we start feeling the momentum of success in case acceptance, we will know that we are making it happen. We can have the great practices that we originally thought we could have when we graduated from dental school. We just need to truly believe in ourselves and in our teams. We must stop resisting change and allow our staffs to help us to the next level.

Click here for more dental continuing education courses.