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Practice Profile

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Brett E. Gilbert, DDS

Brett E. Gilbert, DDS

Combining clinical excellence and compassion What can you tell us about your background? I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. I attended college, dental school, and my postgraduate endodontic residency at the University...

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Randy Garland, DDS

Randy Garland, DDS

Exceeding expectations What can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in southern Orange County and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at San Diego State University in 1983. There I met my future wife, Kim, at the...

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Scott A. Norton, DMD, MSD

Scott A. Norton, DMD, MSD

Focus on family, patients, friends, growth, and community What can you tell us about your background? For as long as I can remember, I wanted to make people smile. I always loved getting the class laughing in grade school. Looking back, I am sure...

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Clinical Articles

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Management of a tooth with a large internal resorption defect

Management of a tooth with a large internal resorption defect

Dr. Robert Slosberg facilitates accurate mapping and obturation of the resportive defect with CBCT imaging Abstract
A patient presented with advanced internal root resorption of tooth No. 9. The prominent location of this tooth...

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Pulpal diagnosis of teeth presenting with condensing osteitis prior to endodontic treatment — a retrospective study

Pulpal diagnosis of teeth presenting with condensing osteitis prior to endodontic treatment — a retrospective study

Drs. Brian Shaughnessy, Margaret Jones, Ricardo Caicedo, Joseph Morelli, Stephen Clark, and Ms. Jennifer Osborne review the occurrence of teeth presenting with condensing osteitis and their associated pulpal diagnosis over a 2-year period. Introduction Read More...

GuttaCore® system: a step forward in the evolution of endodontics

GuttaCore® system: a step forward in the evolution of endodontics

Dr. Andrei Zoryan dispels some of the common myths surrounding carrier-based obturation Carrier-based gutta percha Carrier-based obturation (such as Thermafil®, GT® obturator, ProTaper® obturator [Dentsply Tulsa Dental Specialties]) is one...

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Practice Management

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Effortless, fun, and profitable endodontics

Effortless, fun, and profitable endodontics

In part 2 of his series, Dr. Ace Goerig suggests ways to reduce stress in the practice Almost all endodontists could be completely out of debt and on the way to financial freedom within 5 to 7 years if they only knew the secret. But the secret is...

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Life after root canal — it’s not just about having enough money

Life after root canal — it’s not just about having enough money

Dr. Robert Fleisher ruminates on how to prepare for retirement There are so many articles about everything that you become pretty much overwhelmed and can never expect to read them all. So you pick and choose. You like to learn about the latest and...

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Superior customer service

Superior customer service

Dr. Roger Levin presents the 10 top ways to help create a perfect dental team With the changes brought on by the economy, top companies are bringing in the best resources they can find to evaluate where their organizations stand. They want to know...

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Take control of your business steering wheel and start driving your success by managing expectations successfully, says Lina Craven

 

Practitioners’ expectations of the kind of manager they want for their practice vary considerably in terms of experience and skills.

It’s a common scenario in the dental industry for an assistant or receptionist to be promoted to a management role without determining the skills gap and providing the necessary training. Practitioners have a responsibility to their teams and to the financial success of their practice to appoint someone who either has the necessary skills or who has the capacity to learn them in the appropriate timeframe. How realistic are your expectations, and how can you ensure your management appointment results in success?

Creating and managing the right expectations
Expectations are difficult to control and impossible to turn off. Brazos Consulting says: “Expectations are deeper and broader than ‘requirements.’ Expectation is your vision of a future state or action, usually unstated but which is critical to your success.”
By learning to identify and influence what you expect, and by ensuring it is clearly communicated, understood, and agreed upon with your office manager, you can dramatically improve the quality, impact, and effectiveness of your business.
Expectations are created by different events. It could be something you said or the way that you said it; it may be something you or someone else did; it may be an expectation of your prospective manager based on his/her previous experience.
The vital point here is that expectations, whether right or wrong, rational or otherwise, are not developed in a vacuum.
You should think about instances when you have been let down by your manager, and ask yourself how that expectation was derived: was it based on an agreement with your manager following a discussion, or was it based on something you said or thought in passing? In retrospect, how realistic was that expectation, and do you think your manager was in the strongest possible position to fulfil it?
In my experience, the following scenarios are typical of how unrealistic expectations are created:

  • The practitioner is busy, needs someone to take charge and chooses the “best of the bunch,” thinking he/she will learn on the job
  • The new manager has his/her own expectations of the job, which are often unrealistic
  • No detailed job description or objectives are ever provided
  • No on-the-job or any other type of training is provided—the practitioner simply assumes the manager will learn as he/she goes along
  • The manager gets excited about the new position; for some, the empowerment, the title, and the kudos means a lot, but for others, the challenge and the task at hand mean more. When reality hits, so does the realization that the original motivating factors are no longer as important
  • Both practitioner and manager are reticent to discuss what’s not working and often sweep “the issues” under the rug until it is too late.
Resentment grows and the issues at stake (the patients, the practice, and the staff) outweigh the “real” issue—poorly managed expectations.

How did we get here?
Of course, there are lots of practices managed by very capable “business players” who, after a long period of struggle with their practitioner, work out how to best manage and lead the practice. But for all the smoothly working practitioner-manager relationships, there are more who prefer not to talk about the problems inherent within and who are only too glad for someone else to bring the discussion to the table.
One of my aims is to facilitate management teams to assess where they are at present, to plan for “appropriate” change, and to implement that change. The outcome is that a weight is lifted from your shoulders and focus moves to a united partnership working toward the success of the practice. But in order to move forward, you must recognize where you are now.
Do any of these scenarios resonate with you?
  • You attend a course and return excited, telling the manager and staff that the goal must be to achieve certification in a certain process by April—and it is already late November. The team’s enthusiasm for pursuing the accreditation is dampened by the workload it will generate on top of current projects like the practice refurbishment, the implementation of a new software system, and the training of new staff
  • You “thought” the manager could do the job, but now you are not so sure. He/she seemed ready for the challenge but had no managerial experience. The agreement was that training would be provided, but a year later none has been forthcoming
  • When your manager hands in his/her resignation, you are pleased. You think you now realize everything he/she was not doing. Although he/she had management qualifications, you couldn’t see how they were benefiting you and the practice, but then again you never had one-on-ones, so did         he/she really have a clear understanding of what you wanted or expected?
  • When thinking about your existing manager he/she didn’t even apply for the job. It just happened after the previous manager left.

An alternative approach
The first step toward achieving a successful management partnership is to honestly appraise your current situation, acknowledge existing concerns and frustrations, and take action.
Knowing what action to take for the best result is probably the hardest thing to assess. To assist you, I have created a step-by-step, self-assessment worksheet that you and your manager can work through to create your ideal framework.
The worksheet, which can be downloaded for free from my website (www.orthodontic-management.com), requires you and the manager to take time to discuss various points, agree on a course of action, and plan for change. Some potential changes are:
  • Vocalizing your vision
  • Agreeing that your vision is realistic
  • Sharing your vision with the team
  • Creating a job description with and for your manager
  • Identifying skills gaps and agreeing on a training plan with and for your manager
  • Creating and agreeing SMART objectives with and for your manager
  • Scheduling regular meetings and one-on-ones with your manager
  • Monitoring change.

There is an old management adage that says: “You cannot manage what you don’t measure.” The same goes for managing expectations; you cannot manage expectations unless you understand and monitor them.

Drive your success
Expectations always exist—even if we don’t know what they are, and despite them often being unrealistic. Managers have expectations of their roles, and their employers have expectations of the person given responsibility for managing the practice.
The problem is that mismatched expectations can lead to misunderstanding, frayed nerves, and ruffled feathers. More seriously, they often lead to flawed systems, failed projects, and a drain on resources. There’s nothing wrong with having expectations. The trick is to communicate them and to agree how they might be satisfied over time, and with the right support.
Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” Managed expectations drive your success. Take control of your business steering wheel and start driving your success by managing expectations successfully.

 

Lina Craven is the founder and director of Dynamic Perceptions Ltd. Over the past 25 years, she has assisted dental practices to realize their vision of success through the achievement of a customer-driven culture that focuses on delivering an exceptional patient journey. Linda’s qualifications and experience as an orthodontic therapist, treatment coordinator, and practice manager in the United States, have given her a unique insight into the day-to-day practical problems faced by dental practices. She combines her hands-on knowledge with years of consultative experience to assist UK and European practices to achieve something special. Visit www.orthodontic-management.com for more information.

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