Boy! Dental school didn’t give me any direction on being responsible for employees, staffing, HR, hiring and firing! How about you?
Maybe dental school taught you how to work with a chair-side dental assistant.
Maybe dental school gave you some direction on training a chair-side assistant.
Then there is the part about staffing - the search, the interviewing, the choosing, the hiring... Any direction on that in dental school? Not in mine.
And the part about staff coming to you with their beefs, their worries. Didn’t learn about that in dental school.
You, likely, as most of us dentists, are approval addicted. You want everyone to like you - patients, staff, community… You learn at meetings that you can take your staff out for “bonding” and fun, take them to dental meetings and CE.
Of course you find some nice people to work with you. Because dentists are usually very nice to everyone (but not as nice to themselves), the staff actually like you.
You might wonder sometimes if your team members like each other, but as long as you keep being nice to them, making them happy - hopefully they’ll take care of things for you.
Step back for a moment and think about all of this. Does it sound a bit like being a parent? Your children have their moments with each other too. They bicker, make up, fuss, and come to you too. Can you just hear the, “Mommy/Daddy, she’s ‘looking’ at me.” It starts in toddlerhood. How about,, “Can I get that? Can I have one?” Or, “Can I go to the mall / movie / out to eat…?”
I am not my staff’s parent.
I can give them love through the opportunity to carry out the vision of the practice, of loving each other, patients, parents, and all.
The answers lie in systems. Your job as the business owner is to develop and utilize systems which every single employee utilizes as well. In systems, each position is clear. All responsibilities and expectations are clear. They can be followed.
You have the responsibility to be the keeper of the flame - the vision of your business. Your job is to define that vision in systems. Your job is to hire and keep only staff who share the vision, because it fits their vision for themselves, and they work toward your practice’s vision. That vision, based in love for each and every person is indeed a flame, burning bright.
As you and your team carry out the systems, your mission is successful, your business grows, to love and care more, and for more, and you can enjoy the patients, the staff, the days.
I am not my staff’s friend.
I am their mentor, their light, their guide.
I am to love them through our shared vision.
I am responsible for guiding and growing the vision, which brings love to them and everyone who is part of the practice.
It’s all about loving. But not about doing everything to be loved.
Keep your eye on the vision, on the systems, on your purpose. Your courage in that will bring love to all.
I am not my staff’s friend, nor am I their parent.
I create the system; they carry out the system.
They contribute greatly to the improvement of the system.
We share love together.
The point where you show love to your staff is where you enable them to do a great job through carrying out the systems that fulfill the vision of love in your practice, not “giving” them stuff, attention, experiences, etc. to try to make them happy. (Like everything in life, we always want to be given more and more, and there is no end, no satiation for very long.)
Here’s your answer: It’s the old Chinese saying, “If you want a man to eat for a day, give him a fish. If you want him to eat for a lifetime, teach him how how to fish.”
Give your staff priceless lifetime skills. This is love.
Give yourself a great life too.
Dr Chris Baker
America's most-trusted teacher of orthodontic continuing education, Dr. Chris Baker has practiced and taught for more than 30 years, and is a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools. She is a pediatric dentist, author, blogger, dental practice consultant, and mentor. Dr. Chris is also Past President and Senior Instructor of the American Orthodontic Society. She is based in Texas, USA, but lectures around the world.
Text and images
© 2023 Dr Chris Baker