13 Jul Creating a Culture of Kindness in your Dental Practice
For some and even within healthcare, kindness seems to be a scarce resource that is limited by the availability of suitably qualified or experienced people. For others it is something that can be nurtured and allows both individuals and groups to develop and grow.
One of the problems with being kind is that dental practices are highly governed and highly regulated environments, that do not necessarily allow free thinking and autonomous decision making to flourish, and yet these are entirely the attributes of somebody we may think of as being kind.
The other problem for dental businesses is that kindness isn’t necessarily a consequence of making money, and yet if it’s done right, making money can be a consequence of being kind.
To truly see the benefits of leading a dental practice that nurtures a culture of kindness it’s worth noting that we are not just talking about being fluffy, nice and generous. True kindness recognises that there is an interdependence between the parties in healthcare from which acts of kindness arise. Kindness can cut through self interest, encourage creativity, build teams, reputations, businesses and societies.
Kindness can be applied to so many aspects of a dental practice, extending beyond just patient care. Kindness is a state of mind that can exist at an individual and cultural level so that it shapes behaviours and gives clarity and intent to organisational purpose. Increasingly too for consumers, to understand what it is you as an organisation stand for and believe in, is changing buyer behaviour and where buyers spend their money. Some businesses have a reputation for being kind…does yours?
Things that you can do to create a culture of kindness;
- Remove targets that encourage volumes of transaction rather than the needs of your patients.
- Look at ways of understanding the outcomes that patients value and use that feedback to improve how patients are served.
- How you talk about your patients has an impact upon how you view them. Does the language of ‘leads to be converted’ sit comfortably with you? Words and labels do matter in healthcare, choose them carefully.
- Look out for telling people what to do. A regulated environment is one thing but it does not have to be a reason to stifle free thinking and autonomous decision making.
- Have less rules. Kindness in healthcare requires self motivation and governance, not flowcharts or scripts.
- You can’t buy kindness so don’t attempt to.
- Don’t be blinkered by having narrow performance indicators or those that only drive financial outcomes. It’s not the 1990’s and we don’t have to put up with silo’s or selfish thinking.
I am seeing first hand that it is possible to create a culture of kindness in dental practices, one where financial success and longevity are not sacrificed for ‘wokeness’ or fluffy ideologies, and there are plenty of successful businesses out there for whom none of this will be new. It is brave, and it does require perseverance but kindness in dental healthcare will always be in demand.