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Scattered, Covered and Smothered

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Linda Drevenstedt's picture
Joined: 27 Sep 2012

Waffle House is a frequent sight along the Southern byways. These 24/7 diners are famous for waffles (my favorite is pecan waffles) and hash browns. Hash browns that are "scattered, smothered and covered" are the best mess you'll ever eat. Hash browns are grill fried with onions and then covered with American cheese - YUMMO!
When you manage a dental practice, you can become "scattered, smothered and covered." These are the challenges I hear on my coaching calls that scatter, smother and cover you: one is out pregnant, and as your team is making do, another is out; the best hygienist on the planet leaves because her husband was transferred; your hygiene schedule is full of last minute holes; your new patient numbers are down; your sterilization area, supply closet, (you fill in the blank) looks like a bomb went off in it; your treatment coordinator needs to leave due to health challenges - shall I go on??
Use one of these Seven Strategies when you are feeling scattered, smothered and covered.
1. Focus on what is within your control.
Feeling scattered and covered often comes from fretting over things, people, or events that you cannot control. Take a quick inventory of the things that are creating the scattered, smothered feeling. Mark out the ones that you cannot control. Now, make a list of the items you can control. Leave the list and go do something else. Come back. Take your list. Write one action you can take within the next 24 hours toward a new result.
2. Set boundaries.
Managers need DND (Do Not Disturb) time to focus on priorities. This is REAL management time that allows you to look at the practice vision and goals-time to think about what is needed to stay true to the vision and to accomplish practice and personal goals. Next, look at your team. Who needs coaching, training or to be put on a path of elimination? Schedule time to follow-through. Look at your own personal growth goals and what you need to accomplish. Your DND time allows you time out from being smothered. Set a boundary to allow yourself time to return to the vision and the big picture.
3. STOP caretaking.
I did not say stop caring. Caretaking is when you do something for someone that they should be able to do themselves. You become smothered when you do things that staff members fail to do or do incorrectly. The next time a staff member comes to you with the same questions, request for help, or you have to correct their errors - STOP. Ask them to go get some paper and to write down the steps, the script, the actions necessary to take care of themselves in the future. If someone is chronically late, unprepared or living in the world of excuses - STOP. Have a performance coaching session and be clear about your expectations. Schedule a follow-up meeting to see how they are doing. If the behavior has not changed, you should put them on a path toward firing OR, accept that this is all you get and they DO NOT GET raises. Not everyone can be a "10."
4. Build leaders.
The best managers invest in continual team training. Here are training topics to include: self-esteem building, practice management system improvement, dental software or technology, communication, team building, leadership or conflict management. Courses are available at your local college, online, or through many Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Development offices. Don't restrict yourself to dental courses.
5. Think Buddha and lavender.
Not religion, but a deep Buddha belly breath. Take several when you are feeling scattered, smothered and covered. Oxygen helps soothe stress. Keep lavender handy. I keep a small linen bag of lavender on my desk that I got at a craft festival. The scent of lavender is soothing. And, as I pick it up and crush the seeds to release their scent, I take a deep Buddha breath. Always makes me feel more in control of things.
6. Read...
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. Great book on setting time management priorities.Click the book image to order.
7. Find a coach.
It is lonely at the top. A management coach is a person you trust who can listen, guide, support and assist you in handling the challenges of your business and your team. A coach may challenge you to grow your skill set to handle your challenges. Great leaders, like great athletes, have coaches to work with them along the road to greater success. At each level there are new challenges.
I am who I am with the help of coaches, classes, books on CD or MP3 and reading! Time for you to take back your own ability to get out from under "scattered, smothered and covered."

Linda Drevenstedt
Drevenstedt Consulting LLC
Ventura, CA

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Linda Drevenstedt
Drevenstedt Consulting LLC
Ventura, CA