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Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and change. The better you are at managing the latter, the less stress you’ll have and the more likely the practice you work for will thrive. Here are the steps successful change agents use:
Clearly define the necessary change. The more specific you are, the easier it is to focus on potential solutions while eliminating options that won’t work. Are wait times too long in your practice? Have you gone through your entire snow removal budget already? Is turnover in your practice too high? Defining the problem is the first step to solving it.
Listen to everyone. Define the problem and then listen to suggestions on how to solve it. This can be done one on one, in a group setting, or both. People feel better about change if they have had the chance to be heard about their feelings regarding the change. In a group setting, consensus will often become clear, making it possible to move ahead will full support.
Look outside your walls for solutions. Talk to vendors and individuals from other offices, read practice management materials, and do an Internet search to learn how others have managed the change you’re contemplating. This is especially helpful if you’re considering purchasing new equipment or software. Reviewing websites will help alert you to potential problems. When you talk to individuals, ask provocative questions such as, “If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?” and “What happened as a result of the change, both good and bad, that you didn’t anticipate?” These deeper questions will provide valuable information and insight that you might not otherwise discover.
Provide data. It’s easier to encourage your team to make changes when they have the background necessary to fully understand the problem. It’s one thing to report that production is down, but another to report that it’s “down 15 percent over the same period last year.” Smart staffers recognize that a decrease in income will affect them at some point—and it will be easier to get their buy-in to rectify the situation when they have the data they need to understand the “why” behind the change.
Create a “test drive.” Is there a way to make the change on an experimental basis? If so, try it—and then evaluate how well the change works. Team members are more likely to go along with a change if they know there’s a chance to return to the old way of doing things if the new way doesn’t work out.
Picture the promise. What’s the benefit of making the change? Not only is it important to clearly define the problem, it’s essential to picture the promise—the benefit of making the change. Will revenue increase? Will the change make work easier, faster and/or more fulfilling? Will expenses decrease? Will work be streamlined? Knowing the benefit for the team as well as individual staff members will move the focus from the inconvenience of making a change to the benefit of doing so.
Continue to remind staffers of the benefits you’re after to keep everyone moving forward.
Celebrate. Follow change with both information and celebration. If you’ve successfully increased production, let your team know. (And if you haven’t, take a step back and plan for another change.) Be specific when reporting your results. Acknowledge the work staff did to make the change happen. Celebrate with a special meal, gift cards, movie passes, etc. The cost of the celebration doesn’t have to be extravagant. The important thing is to take time to thank your team for the effort expended in making the change happen.
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A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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