Why’s My Practice Falling Apart?

By Dr. Addison Killeen

April 25, 2023

The Problems

Natalie just got into a fight with Jessie at the front desk in front of a patient. The 11:00 am patient just left without paying their outstanding bill. Someone got scheduled for 90 minutes that should have been 30 minutes. The 2:00 pm patient was scheduled to seat the bridge, but the lab does not have the bridge fabricated yet.

Do problems like these happen regularly in your office? I can think of many situations just like these where all you want to do is yell a bunch of 4-letter expletives. I get it. It is frustrating.

The Solutions

So, how do we overcome hurdles like these? My first answer would be communication with the team about the expectations. Here are my 5 points about communicating with clarity:

  1. Intentional clarity with our communication: speak at a slower pace, leave no detail un-said (even if it is something that should be known). Do not hide messages in “organizational speak” and words that are complicating the issue: simplify. Remember, it takes hearing something 7 times to remember it. If you want the team to remember your core values, it will take 7 times of seeing, repeating, and working with your core values to remember.
  2. Accountability: hold people accountable for the actions you request of them. If you want them to take out the trash at the end of the day, it is going to take you 2 minutes to go around and check all the trash cans, then follow up with them immediately to remind them of your expectations.
  3. Live out the message ourselves: if you request that everyone lives by your core values, then YOU should also be doing so. Asking them to do something and not doing it yourself can lead to a lot of resentment. When resentment builds, people will leave the practice to find leaders who do represent the values they espouse.
  4. Demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability when asking for feedback: every so often you will need to ask your team for feedback on how things are going, and if you are being clear enough with your communication. Sometimes the truth hurts: be ready to be vulnerable and ask if they are getting the right message from you.
  5. Tell stories to convey the message in a memorable way: the most popular book in the world is the Bible, and if you have read much of it, you would know that Jesus talked in parables all the time. It is how messages were conveyed 2,000 years ago and the same is true today. So, when you need to communicate a message or the why of a message try telling it in story form.

Hopefully these 5 points will help you as you become a better leader and a better communicator.

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