“Hi honey, how was your day?”
“Well, Barbara called in sick so we were down one hygienist and our whole schedule got behind, and Sara kept screwing up her crowns with the new CEREC machine so I had to re-do them for her. Then we got a bad review because Margaret was rude to a patient last week. I wish my team could just get it together already!”
We all have bad days and it’s perfectly normal and healthy to vent about it with your significant other or a friend. But if your frustration is coming to the surface when you get home from work, chances are it was apparent at work as well, whether you intended to express it or not. If your team feels like they’re always taking the blame when things don’t go smoothly, they’re not going to feel valued, respected, or empowered to do their best.
Whether you’re a solo doctor running your own practice or an associate at a group clinic, you are the glue that holds it all together, and your attitude could make or break your practice. Let’s examine the example above and come up with some alternative reactions to turn frustration into gratitude, and gratitude into opportunities for learning and growth.
Barbara has the flu and you got upset with her because she called in sick and left you out a hygienist. Now she feels guilty and—to be honest—probably resents you a little bit. What could you have done differently? Obviously, it’s not her fault she’s sick and she doesn’t deserve to feel even worse than she already does. Instead, you could have simply offered your condolences, wished her a speedy recovery, and reminded her that she’s a valuable asset to your team. Now she feels better about taking the day off and she will feel healthier, more well rested, and more secure in her role at the practice when she returns.
Sara is trying her best to learn this new CAD/CAM technology, but you got mad at her for messing up her crowns and in a flurry of frustration and panic, re-did them yourself. Now she feels belittled, self-conscious, and isn’t sure she wants to use the CEREC machine anymore. Instead of seeing this as a failure on Sara’s part, you should see it as an opportunity for improvement. Let her know you appreciate her efforts, and set aside some time for you the two of you to sit down together and work on CEREC training—we’re all learning this together, after all! This will let her know you care about and trust her enough to spend the time working with her, and she will feel more confident in her skills with the new technology.
Margaret is going through a divorce and isn’t feeling valued as an employee, and when a patient was rude to her, she may have slipped up and been a little rude back. You yelled at her about the negative review, now she’s even more upset and doesn’t even want to talk to you. How could you have handled this situation differently? Instead of immediately getting upset with her, you should have set up a time to sit down with her and discuss the matter. Before even going into the review itself, you should ask her how she is holding up and if she’s doing ok. Give her a safe space to express her feelings and explain the situation. Let her know we’re all human and we all make mistakes, while offering suggestions as to how she could have handled things with that patient a little differently. This lets her know you care about her not just as an employee, but as a person and a friend.
Shifting your attitude is, of course, easier said than done, but just like any skill, it takes practice and dedication every day. Think about that nightly conversation with your significant other. What does your answer usually sound like? For many of us, the above example is all too familiar. We focus so intensely on the negative things that happen every day that we forget to see the positives, especially in situations that may seem negative on the surface. We must look deeper and understand the impact we have on those around us. We must see the silver linings and opportunities for growth in every setback. Most importantly, your team needs a strong leader that can be held accountable—one that values them, respects them, and empowers them to be the best they can be.
Here’s an exercise: The next time someone asks you, “How was your day?” try and avoid the negatives and focus on the positives, or at least find a way to shift the negatives into opportunities for gratitude and growth. If you’d like to learn more strategies for shifting your attitude to gratitude and empowering your team, contact us at PDA | Marketing Group today!