I don't want to be retained.
So what is it that makes us think we can retain employees in their positions in our companies? Or at least that's what several courses promise.
I know it's just words.
But words are powerful.
They mean something.
They affect us and those around us.
That's why I believe we need to be careful how we use our words.
This blog post is about how we empower our employees to desire to remain a part of our team so much that they will never leave voluntarily... and when life forceds thet to do so - regret they had to make that decision and daily want their job back.
At the beginning I described how words matter and how we have to be careful about the way we use our words.
I do this because I have learned it myself several times. Partly as a volunteer leader, partly as a leader in my own companies and not least through this blog. Believe me - these blog posts have taught me (and continue to teach me) a lot about this the really hard way.
Over the 4 years I've been publishing my posts, I've received an incredible amount of positive feedback ( Thank you for that. I really appreciate it😊). But I have to admit, I've also gotten patted down in public, based on the words I've used and composed here on the pages.
My words have created a brand that rightly, or wrongly sticks with me until my colleagues meet me in real life.
My many "public" smears have also scared many colleagues, who have a more positive attitude towards my postings, from voicing their opinions in public. Because they don't want to line up, as targets in the shooting tent, without backup. So instead, they write me some incredibly sweet emails or messenger messages.
It should be mentioned that I sometimes deserve critical feedback - I am only human. After all, the common denominator of our race is that we fail. Again.and again.and again. Which in time has the potential to make us smarter and more capable.
Think about what I just wrote.
We can laugh a bit about it and come up with a "thaw hay". That's okay. But if we look inwards and consider the environment of our own little bubble - our own dental practice. What kind of manners do we have in our own company? Really - if we step outside ourselves and look at the clinic from the outside?
When I hear dental assistants referred to as "the girls" or "the chicks" then maybe it's ok. But what about “sucktion mount"? Have you heard something the like before too... I think you have!
Compare those terms to "my personal assistant" or what about "care nurse" (I've heard that one abroad).
Then it takes a slightly different turn.
The same goes for dentists, receptionists and dental assistants.
Do you think the descriptive words might have a meaning too:
Power distance (the perceived difference between manager and employee)
Desire to go to work
When I talk to dental assistants at various conferences around the world, it often strikes me that many are incredibly loyal to their colleagues. They will simply go to great lengths to remain part of the team their colleagues form.
When I ask about the team and colleagues, it very often happens that the dentist is not mentioned as part of the team - this is where my alarm bells sometimes start ringing. Can you guess why?
Do you take responsibility?
When a dental practice begins to show a trend of employees coming and going relatively frequently. Do you think this might send a signal to the outside world?
Positive or negative?
If it describest your practice.
What do you do about it?
Do you point inwards and take responsibility?
Or do you point everywhere else to place the blame somewhere else?
As a manager, you have to take the responsibility that comes with the job. You need to prove you are worthy of leading before others will follow you. That can no longer be done by virtue of a leadership title. There is no authority behind the title of leader. We have to earn the right to be leaders - each and every day!
Dental practices have an extreme environment
We are constantly very close to people we don't necessarily know very well.
Those people are often nervous or afraid of us.
At the same time, we have to perform invasive work in an extremely small and difficult-to-reach area that contains more pain receptors than the rest of the body.
Moreover, the work is complicated by the fact that we have to follow some very technically sensitive protocols around drying and aspetics in a relatively humid and bacterial environment. All this while a colleague sits rubbing her legs up against ours and constantly staying within our intimate sphere.
Add to this the fact that most practice are so financially pressurised, that days are scheduled according to the most extreme lean models, that even a 30 second delay can cause a chronic delay for the rest of the day.
These are absolutely insane working conditions to put people through. There is almost no other industry that exposes employees (or owners) to such extreme working conditions.
Make employees DESIRE to stay
If the team doesn't have a strong cohesive force, it doesn't take much to break the team. It takes competent leadership to put the right people together in well-functioning teams. But it doesn't stop there. It also takes competent leadership, persistently working to create a framework that makes all employees in the practice WANT to remain part of the team. To be ambassadors for the world's coolest workplace.
To master this difficult discipline, we, as managers, need to know the different needs of the different wonderful people we employ. Indeed, in the most successful teams, the needs of individual employees vary widely. Because the best teams are made up of different personality profiles. Because through differences we can better support each other and create results no one else can achieve alone.
But it's also the differences that can get on our nerves so much that we sometimes explode inside with frustration and anger... If we don't know the reasons why our dear colleague does what he or she does. For it often lies in the needs and expressions of the individual personality.
This is not easy - if it were easy, everyone would do the right thing - all the time.
I've been in management for more than 30 years. First as a volunteer. Later professionally. I've gradually found that I'm relatively good at leading a team. My success, as a leader, has always depended on leaning on colleagues in my team who could help me, among other things, identify the needs of people who were/are different from me. When there has been a particular need to communicate to personality types other than myself, I have often allied myself with an expert. This could be an internal expert but also an external one.
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One of my experts
One of the experts I use today is Lone Vester. Lone is a dentist and has been a practice owner for more than 25 years. Currently, she is in a great professional partnership with Christian. Together they run a practice in Denmark, in a way that gives a great financial result combined with the fact that their team is doing super well together. This does not mean that they do not have problems and conflicts do not arise. But with the insight everyone in the practice has about each other, it's easier to understand and resolve conflicts. This insight is not something they have come to in their sleep. It requires persistent work and skilled leadership.
When I'm faced with a colleague who wants help improving the working environment or resolving internal conflicts. Then I ask Lone to help me. Because she is much better at solving these kinds of tasks than I am. In this way, Lone has gradually become a permanent and trusted part of my team of experts in my consultancy business.
Strengths and weaknesses
In Lone's and my collaboration, there is also a need for leadership. But because we know each other's strengths and weaknesses, it's different who has the lead. When I know Lone is the strong one, I like to lean back, confident that she will catch me - and vice versa. I feel the same way about all the people I work with in my business. Everyone has particular strengths, just as they have their weaknesses. When we acknowledge both sides within ourselves and in others and dare to show our own vulnerability, we have something to work with. Then we can show trust and help build strong individuals who thrive in a great environment. An environment they don't want to be without.
That's the way it should be in your team. Everyone in the team should be able to rely on each other so much that they have 100% confidence that they will always have support if they hit shaky ground. This trust should also include the dentist and the hygienist. They must also have this trust in the team. But they will only get it if the team has 100% confidence in them.
I know my blog is nothing but words.
But words are powerful.
They mean something.
They affect us and those around us.
That's why I believe we should be careful how we use our words.
For the meaning of words is contagious to those around us. They shape our attitudes and actions.
My name is Jesper Hatt.
I am a dentist and I love helping people achieve their goals and dreams.
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I hope to see you in the next blog post
Many kind regards
Jesper Hatt DDS
Phone: +41 78 268 0078
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Here I regularly post tips, tricks and motivational posts about everything we didn't learn at dental school. This includes service, sales and practice optimisation.