By: Trude Henderson
Today we are going to change things up a bit and focus on things from the perspective of the dental practice employee, rather than that of the practice manager. Travis Bradberry, (an article by whom we discussed in 2 complementary blogs on July 19th – 21st), maintains in “7 Ways to Blow You’re Bosses Mind” (Forbes, September 29, 2015”) that for an ambitious employee, is in not enough to merely follow orders: “Your boss’s expectations are the price of entry.” Rather, “the trick to advancing your career and getting paid more is to add value by making certain your contributions are worth more than you’re paid. You want to go above and beyond so that you’re seen as someone highly valuable—someone the organization can’t live without.”
Below you will find Bradberry’s suggestions, accompanied by some recommendations of our own:
1. Don’t confine yourself to acquiring the skills required for your job; immerse yourself in studying the company, industry, competition, news, and challenges. Bradberry says that if you really want to impress your boss, show her that you that you have acquired a thorough knowledge of your organization and that you are prepared to use this knowledge in real-time. The writer adds: “On top of knowing how to do your job, it shows that you know why you’re doing it and why it matters.”
Our advice to dental employees is to avoid becoming so comfortable, or susceptible to distractions in your life, that you forget to allocate time for continuous improvement. The most valuable employees don’t wait for their employer to schedule a webinar or a class; they do it on their own and on their own time. Dr. Anne Cunningham, researcher and professor of psychology at the UC Berkeley points out that avid readers not only acquire more knowledge, they also become keener at spotting trends and patterns. In today’s hyper-competitive dental world, recognizing and solving problems could be the one specialized skill set, in addition to being an outstanding, customer-oriented team player, that lands you the MVP award.
Our High Reliability Organizational (HRO) tip: engage in continuous learning and then apply what you’ve learned to improve your dental work environment. Specifically, we mean that you should be mindful (in-the-moment), take action by speaking up as soon as you recognize a problem or a trend, and then help the team prevent it from ever happening again. Helping cure the problem, rather than being part of the problem, will help you score points with your boss!
2. Anticipate the question, don’t just be ready with the answer. Of course, your employer will appreciate your ability to answer any questions she may have, but she will be even more appreciative of your ability to foresee her needs and provide the answers. Says Bradberry: “You’ll save her time and energy, and she’ll appreciate that just as much as your enthusiasm.”
It is our experience that sustained attention, plus the ability to re-focus when distractions arise, are some of the most valuable HRO characteristics an employee can possess. Your attention span, (defined by peakperformancecenter.com, as “your ability to keep your mind focused on something through careful observing and listening”), is challenged every second of the day in a busy dental practice. That said, many researchers agree that you can improve your focus by getting plenty of rest, taking short breaks, exercising or meditating, and eating a healthy diet.
It is actually a good thing if your practice mandates a “no personal cell phone policy” because the more that you are distracted by your phone, the less likely you are to anticipate the needs of the dentist, not to mention your patients!
HRO tip: Be deeply concerned about complacency, routine and lack of engagement because they are antipathetic to the spirit of high performing individuals and organizations. You’ll likely never hear of a sports team with such attitudes that played in the championship game. Remember: “When you lose focus, you lose value!”— to everyone!
3. Be accountable: take responsibility for mistakes. When you’ve made an error, the best thing to do is to shoulder the blame, suggest a remedy and list the steps required to implement it.
Says Bradberry: “Everyone makes mistakes. You’ll stand out by showing your boss that you’re accountable, creative, and proactive when you inevitably make them.”
Virtually every author, professor, and life-coach in the fields of leadership, success, and operational excellence have affirmed that if you want to be successful, don’t justify your mistakes, but rather own them and learn from them. Our pilot study revealed that employees who took responsibility for their mistakes were more likely to accept change and view challenges as opportunities. Furthermore, these employees were not only happier overall, they demonstrated resilience and were some of the best cheerleaders for the team.
If you, on the other hand, struggle with owning your mistakes or with handling change, the good news is that you can re-train your brain. Start by surrounding yourself with positive people who embrace change and are good at owning their mistakes. Then, when you inevitably make a mistake, admit it to yourself and then privately rehearse your admission of error over-and-over until you have the courage to say it aloud.
4. Seize the initiative. The writer says, “Anybody (well, almost anybody) can do what they’re told. To blow your boss’s mind, you have to be proactive. If you see a problem, fix it. If you see something that needs doing, do it.”
We would add the following HRO tip: Even if you’re not a supervisor, study objective information such as practice management software reports, or results from feedback surveys or social media reviews, and see what you can learn. Then show your team members and boss whether you’re “winning or losing” at any given moment and provide suggestions (not complaints) to help fill in the gaps, if needed. Seek to uncover “blind-spots” that your boss may not be aware of, or have time to look for, and use the information to inspire heightened awareness, a desire for transparency, and a readiness for purposeful action, in your peers.
To take a few examples: your willingness to help a team member get on board with change, or take action to improve the customer experience, can definitely help you get on your boss’s “A” list! Be sure to keep the information fresh in their minds by providing frequent updates at daily huddles, and remember: you don’t need a title to be a leader!
5. Build relationships throughout the organization. Bradberry points out that from time-to-time, your department might require help from another, so why not establish relationships with people in other departments? The results: “You can make your boss’ day by saying, ‘Why don’t I take care of that for you? I know someone who can get that done for us right away.’”
From our experience, we’ve learned that, whether we’re talking about anticipating the needs of customers, or doctors and team members as discussed above, they are all better served through collaboration and great communication. Very simply put, “Collaboration and great communication make you and the dental practice look smarter.” For example, when you don’t know the answer, and you acknowledge it and then swiftly offer to consult with someone who does, you send the message that you’re honest, friendly and an enthusiastic member of the team. When you keep your promises, you proclaim, in effect, “Look no further, I’m reliable!”
6. Keep your cool during challenging times. Your ability to keep calm during an emergency can suggest that you have leadership potential, something your boss might remember when promotions are to be awarded.
Most people don’t attend a training class on ‘how to remain calm’ but employees of ‘high-reliability’ occupations, where the highest focus, safety, and consistency are critical, certainly do. For example, nuclear workers and airline pilots practice emergency procedures, including completing checklists, over and over, until they feel confident that they will know exactly what to do in an emergency.
This doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but the good news is that practicing can help most people perfect this skill set. Hopefully, emergencies are infrequent in your dental practice, but challenges, such as dealing with difficult or demanding patients, likely are and if not handled properly, can be detrimental to your customer experience. If you want to impress your boss, create a checklist or a just a simple list of situations with appropriate responses crafted to help other employees learn how to navigate challenging situations, then offer to organize appropriate role play exercises for use during a lunch-n-learn.
In short, the dental employee wanting to get ahead should be prepared to go above-and-beyond the bullet points in his/her job description and exhibit some of the traits of a leader, regardless of title.
You can find the original article HERE
For more information about High Reliability Organizational concepts, read our previous blogs
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