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Inside Dentistry
December 2016
Volume 12, Issue 12

Gaining a New Perspective on Team Management

Steps for Empowering Your Team

Ashley Spooner, DDS

Those of us who are practice owners know all too well the level of responsibility involved. Each and every day we are expected to be the leader and to drive the practice toward success. We are solely accountable for providing our teams with the guidance and direction they need. How do we empower our teams to operate more as leaders within their own roles? How do we support independence while maintaining control of our team? The answer lies in three important principles: delegation, structured expectations, and checkpoints.

My Discovery

Recent life experiences forced me to gain a different perspective on team management and what team members can be empowered to do on their own. I had to be out of my office frequently over a 6-month period, often with little notice. My father was very sick and passed away after a five-month hospital stay. During this time, I had to balance being a leader in my office and driving the team with being there for my family as my Dad struggled for his life. This situation forced me to let go of many things I once did for my office and to empower my team to do them. During this process, I discovered three essential steps practice owners can take to empower team members and set them up for success.

1. Delegation

Team members jump at the opportunity to step up and help. They not only take pride in completing new tasks, but can also come up with some great ideas to incorporate in the process.

Every team member strives to feel purpose, independence, and to show what he or she can do to help grow and support the office. Many of us already foster teams that work together as a unit and are committed to the office, but delegating important tasks helps them to feel empowered and become fully invested.

Successful delegation can be achieved by entrusting tasks to each team member based on their inherent strengths. Ask each team member to take on an additional task in the office such as marketing efforts, office maintenance, follow-up calls, social media updates, etc. They will take great pride in these roles and draw in other team members for support when needed. Each team member should report progress back to the team so everyone is on the same page. In this environment everyone works together, and best of all, they are proud of what they are doing.

2. Structured Expectations

As practice owners, it can be difficult to relinquish control over some of the ideas and tasks we have for our offices. Once we are able to let go and empower the team to help, ideas and tasks will not only get accomplished, but often the team will incorporate new ideas that help make the outcome even better.

By creating structured expectations for each task or project delegated to a team member, we can help our team members feel empowered while ensuring that our goals are met. When team members have a full understanding of our vision, they can then take the idea and run with it. For example, my practice sponsored an egg hunt for a local church this past Easter. After providing a general idea of my vision, the event planning was tasked to a team member. She brought in another team member and they designed games and prizes for the children and also incorporated a parent gift that would encourage the families to come in and see the office. Their enthusiasm not only got the entire team excited about the event, but also spilled over to the families we interacted with and made it a very successful event. Looking back, I would not have been able to achieve the same level of success on my own. For a practice owner, this is another task. For the team, it is an opportunity to express personality, creativity, and support for the office.

3. Checkpoints

After providing team members with a general structure of expectations for their delegated task, create checkpoints and deadlines. Schedule time with team members regularly to provide a framework for progress updates and to address any challenges they are experiencing. These check in conversations help ensure team members are not feeling overwhelmed with too many responsibilities.

We can empower our team members and encourage independence while managing an effective team and a successful practice. At the end of the day, we are business owners and leaders, and it is our job to support our teams as much as they support us. Now, go out and empower.

About the Author

Ashley Spooner, DDS, owns a PDS®-supported practice in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Dr. Spooner is a subject matter expert on patient and team retention. She also serves as a faculty member for the PDS Institute®. She can be contacted at spoonera@pacden.com.

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