When I owned my dental practice, I had the roles of receptionist and practice manager. Not being confined to the surgery as most owner-dentists are, I relished the opportunity of being able to manage my business full-time.
Delegating tasks never entered my mind. Why would it? I had the time and I had the enthusiasm to do it all myself. But I soon learned that I was missing out on two very big opportunities.
I was aware that I needed to master many skills to effectively manage my practice. Leadership, people management, relationship-building, customer service… I was very aware of what I didn’t know. I researched and educated myself to develop these skills. What I didn’t do was study law so I could draft employment contracts. I didn’t study accounting in order to do my tax returns. And I did not study dentistry so I could do the fillings.
Successful business management is about doing what you do best, and outsourcing the rest.
Yes, the inclination is to do everything yourself. But if it is an area that you do not have a natural affinity with, it will show in the results. Have you ever designed an advert for a local paper yourself? And then seen what a graphic designer would do with the same ad? I have, and it’s pretty embarrassing by comparison!
It is easy to see the value that experts deliver in terms of legal and accounting. I encourage you to extend this to other areas of your practice management.
For example, at my practice I found that the best people to delegate nursing and sterilisation processes were to….the nurses!
I had to remember that doing and controlling everything myself was not good leadership and management: it was poor. I looked after my area, and allowed others to manage theirs.
2. TEAM BUILDING
What inspires team members? Autonomy. A sense of achievement. Contribution to a higher purpose or goal.
Delegating tasks to team members contributes to their happiness and job satisfaction.
Delegation provides the opportunity to achieve great outcomes for everyone. So share it around.
You must delegate the whole task. It is too easy to ask someone to perform, and then to instruct them exactly how to perform. This is not sharing it around. It is simply an extension of controlling everything. There is no happiness and job satisfaction in being unnecessarily controlled.
Autonomy, being able to think and act by oneself, is one of our key drivers. Delegate with faith that they can research, and try, and adjust, to achieve the results required. They will feel empowered, and eager to take on more tasks.
When Charles Kovess and I were presenting a seminar on team building to dentists in Launceston last year, Charles asked a 55 year old dentist: How long did it take you to perfect fillings? His answer: I still haven’t perfected them!
I reflect back on the success of my practice. I know that a key factor was because I concentrated on what I was good at: awareness of patient’s needs, providing an environment for staff to give their best performances…and delegating whatever I could. It wasn’t to lighten my load. It was to get the best results…for everyone.