14 May 2018  •  HR & Employment Law  •  4min read By  • Zoe Close

Managing expectations to create an A-team

After hearing that business consultants Laura Horton and Michael Bentley will be speaking about team development at the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show, Zoe Close from Practice Plan caught up with the pair to find out more…

Practice life runs a lot smoother when the expectations of the team and the practice owner are aligned and, therefore, their relationship is more harmonious. However, maintaining that relationship is not always an easy task. I spoke to dental business consultants Laura Horton and Michael Bentley to gain their thoughts and advice on this issue.

Zoe Close (ZC): What do you believe are realistic expectations that the dentist might have of the team, and vice versa?

Laura Horton (LH): The team get frustrated with unfairness, they want to work in an environment that is fair and where there are no favourites, in an environment where the owner(s) and manager(s) do not bury their head in the sand about system issues or negative team members that are causing disruption to everyone else. For the owner(s) it’s more about the attitude that the team display – turning up in a positive mood, going the extra mile, thinking ahead, being proactive and always finding solutions to problems rather than just moaning about them.

For the team, the biggest expectation is fairness and equality within the HR and operational systems.

ZC: If dentists and the rest of the team are not on the same page, what impact can that have on the practice, staff and patients?

MB: Essentially everyone goes around in circles and morale is low and you end up with a team of nine-fivers. That’s not great for the team or the owner(s).

ZC: Do you have any advice for how a practice manager might be able to avoid getting to that stage?

LH: Enhance your communication systems! First of all, the owner(s) needs to ensure that the manager understands their vision and can also meet the expectations of their job description. Too many managers have job descriptions that they cannot meet.

Honest and open communication between the owner(s) and manager is essential. If there is any disparity between the ‘two’ the team cannot be communicated to effectively. Expectations have to be set so that everyone is clear and then the journey to meeting the vision can begin.

ZC: What are your thoughts about the importance of having a strong vision for the practice that the team buys into, and the role this plays in managing expectations?

MB: It is essential. Visions can be stagnant, non-existent, unachievable or often a secret!

The stagnant and non-existent are the visions that were in place, have been reached and are now in no-man’s land or they are visions that didn’t quite get there. The unachievable tends to focus solely on a financial target and not the areas of the business that need focus and growth to achieve the end goal of meeting that target. The secret ones are the ones that only the owner(s) know about so there is no chance of achieving that vision either as the team know nothing about the dream!

For the team to buy into a vision they have to understand it, understand the developments the practice will be making over what period of time and not only how they are expected to take part, but also how their role will develop and the expectations for their career too.

ZC: Do you have any tips on how to ensure this vision is well understood by everyone?

LH: A team meeting is the only way! The leadership team need to communicate the vision for the next 12 months to get everyone on board and to give the team the opportunity to ask questions too. A vision meeting can take place every year and it links nicely with appraisals a few weeks thereafter.

ZC: Thanks to the both of you for, as ever, an interesting discussion!

You can hear more about Laura and Michael’s ‘Top tips on how to develop an A-team’ in the Dental Business Theatre, programmed by Practice Plan, at the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show from 10.00am – 10.45am on Friday 18th May. For more information or to see the full speaker schedule visit: www.practiceplan.co.uk/events

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