By Roger P. Levin, DDS
The orthodontic team that you worked with pre-COVID-19 is not the same team that you have now. They may look the same from the outside, but everyone has changed somewhat on the inside. Some team members that have decided not to come back. Others have to change their work schedules due to family issues. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have your entire team back, they may have safety and personal concerns that affect them at work.
Your team has changed so there must be a change in leadership and team building as well. Consider the following ways for dealing with the different scenarios affecting your team:
- Practice compassionate leadership. Most orthodontists already believe they are compassionate, but compassionate leadership is different. This type of leadership requires that the practice leader understands the individual situation of each team member, and manages everyone based on their specific profiles. In addition, the concept of principles, rules, and protocols must change. If there isn’t more flexibility, excellent staff members may be lost.
- Be more tolerant. As a leader, you may experience unpredictable behaviors from certain people at certain times. People who seem very stable most of the time can suddenly feel depressed, anxious, frustrated, lost, or overwhelmed. Any and all of these emotions are now normal. And they don’t appear on any schedule. There may be a time when a person needs to go to the staff room to pull themselves together or go home for the rest of the day. This can make things difficult for orthodontic practice predictability, but it helps people to rebound and continue contributing to the practice.
- Disregard rumors. Rumors can be the downfall of any orthodontic practice. They are rumors about COVID-19. They are rumors about politics. There are rumors about team members’ personal lives. Anytime there are rumors about the practice, it’s important for the leader to address them and encourage people to ask questions.
- Understand your team members’ new perspectives. COVID-19 has some people reassessing their entire lives. Do they want to be in an orthodontic practice? Do they want to move to a new city? Do they want work at all? Rather than viewing your team members as disloyal or pretending nothing is happening, it’s far better to tackle the situation head on. Meet with every team member for five minutes every two weeks just to see how they’re doing. Make it a safe and transparent conversation and leave out all judgment. If a team member tells you that they don’t know if they want to continue at the practice, it shouldn’t lead to automatic dismissal. Listen to them and try to determine if you can help them through their situation.
The COVID-19 crisis has turned everyone’s lives upside down. In order to help your team transition back into the practice, trust, transparency, compassion, and caring must be your priorities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.