“IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!” How often do we hear this phrase from toddlers and elders, alike? In fact, studies suggest humans are born with an innate sense of justice and fairness! So, when something happens that challenges our primal sense of justice, there’s no telling the consequences. We see such consequences play out every day in areas such as healthcare, income, human rights, and even your dental practice.
Unfair Leadership Has Unintended Consequences
You are the leader of your practice. Your employees look to you for maintaining fairness and equality in your work culture. However, when you fail to take notice of the injustices happening, consequences can add up, such as:
Embezzlement/theft: “Hey, my pay level is ridiculously low! I work a lot harder than she ever does, so I just took what I thought was my due pay.”
Subgrouping/backstabbing: “She is his favorite. Whatever she wants, he does. I think we “underlings” need to stick together and fight back in our own way.”
Low customer service/ disengagement: “The doctor obviously doesn’t appreciate me, so why should I make an effort to be nice to his patients?”
Bad attitude/low morale: “ He gave her three days pay when her mother died, and I only got one; it’s so wrong!”
Of course, you may never hear your employees say these things out loud, but you can guarantee they hear it in their heads all day. Being an effective leader is just as important to the success of your practice as being an excellent dentist. Your patients don’t understand clinical dentistry, but they do understand if they like how they are being treated, how your employees treat each other, and how you engage with your employees. Remember, your current and potential patients aren’t lacking options for their dental care, you have to give them a reason to keep coming back to you––that’s where your leadership comes in.
11 questions to troubleshoot your team’s tension
Are you being as fair in your practice as you can be? Answer these questions to find out––and be honest! I can promise you that your employees know what other practices in your area are doing.
Are your pay-scales within the average range in your area?
Do you have a fair and effective employee incentive plan?
Do you have a written employee handbook? This is where your employees find your expectations for how they can be successful in their roles.
Are your benefits the norm for dental practices? Such as employee vacation days, paid holidays, dental care, etc.
Are your payment courtesies (reductions) written and trained, so they are correctly and fairly offered to your patients?
Do you assure all patients, regardless of their demographic, are treated and communicated with equally?
Do you have a favorite employee? If so, your team will know it and they will resent the relationship.
Do you allow your employees to break the rules, either because they intimidate you, they are your friend, or you don’t want to make waves?
Do you show appreciation to your clinical and business employees equally? As a clinician, it is easy to forget the business team.
Do you have written “Team Commitments” outlining accepted behavior and attitudes that each employee much sign and pledge to uphold?
Do you have written operating systems to assure knowledge is equally available? Hoarding knowledge is how some employees exert power over others.
We each have a sense of right and wrong within us and, unfortunately, its importance is often overlooked by leaders and business owners. However, the consequences are usually obvious. Many business owners and leaders will scratch their heads wondering what is going on with their team, their production, or their collection when more often than not, it boils down to an unfair work environment.
Sometimes it takes someone from outside of the team to come in and uncover any sources of workplace disfunction. Working with people day in and day out can cloud your vision to their behaviors. That’s where Sandy comes in. Over the course of 40+ years, she has worked with countless dental practices and knows all the in’s and outs of creating comprehensive employment handbooks, operating systems, and dental coaching.