06 Feb Top Down Management in Dentistry
With the increasing recognition that there is much to be gained in a dental business from being more efficient with the patients and new patient enquiries that you have and that it’s not just ‘we’re accepting new patients’ that matters, we are now seeing the emergence of ‘funnel’, ‘pipeline’ ‘conversion’ and ‘tracking’ into the language of a dental business. On the face of it, this is a good thing because these are ways of understanding how efficient you are with the enquiries you receive and patients that you see. It’s what you do with this information that matters.
These ideas and systems are well established outside of dentistry and even ‘old hat’ for many and we do have to be careful. Often the next steps are league tables and performance targets, if they are not already happening, and we know useful they can be!
Proceed with caution. If this is seen as ‘top down’ monitoring with team members having numbers imposed upon them, then expect to be bitten. Combine a top down monitoring system with the wrong values and you will drive the wrong behaviours. If you are at the top of the league table that’s great but it’s rarely a motivator to those at the bottom and those at the top of the league table tend to be left to get on with it anyway.
The best teams work differently. The same information can still be useful for all stakeholders. However the top down management statement that commands ‘this is what you need to do, the numbers and the targets you need to hit’, is not heard within the best teams. Of course everybody needs to know what is expected of them but, the same information is shared as part of a conversation about being a supportive boss that helps their team develop and grow. This is not just a play on words, it is a leadership decision to pursue moments of excellence rather than manage the avoidance of making mistakes.
The dental profession has plenty of systems and regulations that are designed to avoid mistakes being made. The irony of this is that the more we fear making mistakes, the more we suppress our creativity. And in a profession that likes to make grand claims about the way that it treats its patients, creativity in the moment by a member of your team is what will turn those claims into reality.
Be careful with the numbers, the systems and the monitoring that will be increasingly available at your finger tips. It’s values and beliefs that will shape the behaviours of your team, not top down monitoring.