I just signed up to do the Halloween Candy Buy Back. This is what it is: I will buy back all your Halloween candy. I will pay kids $1 per pound of candy. Then I will send all the candy oversees to our troops. I haven't done it before, but I have heard about it and have always been jealous of the guys that do it. So, I just did it. I am having a banner made for my sign (which I can use every year) and am making a press release as we speak.
Hey, I think this would be good press. And I can rid the world of dental decay one kid at a time. Not much going on otherwise.
Today's topic is going to be on Office Hierarchy. Who is the boss?
I am going to speak from a dentist's perspective. So let's talk a little about the different styles there are. I am going to list them in no particular order, and I am not going to knock any style because they all have benefits and issues.
There is the dentist that is a dictator. This style is, "This is my office. I dropped all the Benjamins to get this thing going. I am the chief. I like to make all the decisions and all decisions that I don't make have to go through me." The good about this one is the employees, for lack of a better term, "know who's boss."
Now, if you are an employee and are reading this or one of my employees reading this, don't get all bent out of shape. Let me explain myself.
When you come into a dictator's office there is none of this, "I think he/she should do this and when he/she does it, I think they should do it this way." No, this doesn't happen, because this is not even in the realm of possibility. Because if you mess around like that you would be gone in a heartbeat. This kind of dentist does not mess around. It is like North Korea: if the government hears about you complaining or talking bad about them, you end up in jail or you end up floating in a river.
The issue with this style is that you are on an island at work and, while that might be just fine for some dentists, to me, making all the decisions is very difficult and draining.
The second style of running an office is the exact opposite of the first. In this style, the dentist hates managing an office so he/she farms this job out. You will see this type of dentist hire an office manager and let this employee run the show, so to speak. The way they feel important is having the office manager give them a report. They can get involved if they so chose, but if things are running smoothly then they try to stay out of the way. This style is appealing to the dentist because they don't have to manage people or insurance or missed appointments or anything. And if something does go wrong they can blame someone else. They get to do dentistry and be concerned about teeth and that is all.
The issue I find with this one is that when there is an issue in the office and they want to change it, they get frustrated because they don't know how to communicate. So they leave it alone (hoping it will get better, even though they know it won't). And the only time they really speak up is when they are so pissed off they explode in anger. They yell at the staff but the only one they are really mad at is themselves because they should have spoken up when this fire was a spark and they know it.
The next management style is an office democracy. The dentist and the staff constantly work together to make decisions. For the dentist that likes to make decisions but doesn't want to hold all the responsibility, this is the perfect place to be. This gives the staff some ownership. In theory, they would be invested in how the office does. The job becomes a little less than a 9-5 thing.
But the issue is that have you ever tried to get 9 women and one man to agree on something. You give people decision-making power, and they might take this a little too far. One person is a little more forward than the others and the quiet person feels slighted because they haven't been heard. Or when you make a decision that wasn't what everyone wanted (say it was a 60-40 vote), 40% of your staff is going to be upset. (Please see the present American government.)
These are the three that I am going to cover today. Of course, there are blends of all of these, but I think I have hit a majority of the ways to govern.
Now here is my take. I have seen all of them. I have a friend that is a dictator. He is a super guy, but has always built a wall between him and the staff. He doesn't get emotional. Most things are black and white. There are things you can do and things that you can't. If you talk about him behind his back, you will be terminated.
There is complaining. I don't think they even have much of a Christmas/Holiday party. This is just how he rolls.
I am a people person. I am an approval-seeker, so I want constant feedback from my staff. So this style doesn't work for me, but I can tell you when poop is hitting the fan you will hear my say, "I wish I did it like he does it."
Democracy. I think it is awesome for our country, but it is tough in a dental office. I do govern this way sometimes. Like I said earlier, some people are going to be upset. Now you know that I have an alpha dog assistant and she kind of chews my ear off everyday about the way I should do things. Then she goes around and makes others understand (being very politically correct) her train of thought. Now, with the staff I have now, everyone really gets along and making a decision is easy. But this way doesn't work all the time in my office, or it might not work at all in other offices.
The office manager way of governing is the way my father did it. And it worked well for him. He is not a very confrontational guy, so if there was ever a staff issue, the office manager took care of it. She took care of insurances, she took care of getting the carpets cleaned, she talked to the lawn guy about the dry spots in the grass, she ran the staff meetings, she hired and fired. She did it all. The problem is, we don't have an office manager anymore so now we are kind of aimlessly governing.
For the first 10 years of practice, I was able to punt all decisions. If I was having a staff issue all I had to do was go to her. Let me tell you, this is a great way for a young dentist to get started. I was so concerned about not hurting a patient and getting my dentistry right it was nice not to have to deal with ANYTHING.
Now though, I think I am a combination of all three. There are times when I am a dictator. It is not always, but I have found it in me to put my foot down on some issues. It is tough for me, but I realize to be a good leader and to make myself happy sometimes I have to do it MY way.
I run the office like a democracy most of the time. I feel like it gives the staff some ownership and it makes them feel heard. And I think they make good decisions most of the time. I mean, they are consumers too. They know how about customer service. Just as long as they know they are making a decision that I would make. "How would John do it?"
And I think I run the office with an office manager sometimes too. The way I do this is by giving staff responsibilities. I will make someone responsible for a project. I tell them to make it their own. I will ask someone to get the carpets cleaned. I will ask someone to be in charge of a marketing plan for us. I will put someone in charge of all our aquariums. So everyone will be an office manager at some time or another. It seems to work. Again for me it is all about making them own this place, which I hope gives them more of a reason to like their job. And when they like their job and do it well, I am so much happier.
That's that. What do you think? Am I missing something? How do you manage?
Have a great Wednesday,