Managing stressed out attitudes within your dental team

In a dental office, we have things that happen continuously throughout the day. We have patients who cancel, schedules fall apart, supplies are late, overhead is up, bills are due, phones are ringing, the toilet is overflowing, hygiene patients only want to do what the insurance covers, we have team members who have personal lives and life isn’t always smooth sailing and juggling the work-life balance is overwhelming at times.

From every perspective on the team, we all have issues that come up and when those issues arise that’s when attitudes can flare. I’m encompassing stress, drama, gossip into attitudes. Whatever you call stress in your office, it’s going to come up and we need to address it because nothing can kill a dream team more than attitudes and stress.

Bad attitudes can quickly mess up a dream team and the culture of your practice. It’s like a fungus, once it starts if it’s not stopped and addressed immediately, it will continue to grow.

4 Ways to Handle Stress and Attitudes Within Your Dental Team:

1 – What’s Your Number?

This is a tip from Elijah Desmond (from Smiles at SeaDriven Dental Marketing Implant Marketing) and he suggests that during the morning huddle, talking about where you are on a scale of one to ten. How are you feeling today? If you’re living your best life and on top of your game you’re a “10.” If you’re recovering from the flu and haven’t slept in three days, maybe you’re a “2.” Are you a ten or are you a two? If you arrive in the morning and say listen guys, it was a long night last night, I’m honestly a “5” today, maybe it’s a new mom and the baby was up sick all night or maybe somebody had a fight with their spouse in the morning – it is much better to proactively say, “you know what, I’m a five” and have the team say “You know what, we’re going to pick you up today. We’re going to handle this, we’re going to put in a little extra to help you out.” I think this idea and approach is amazing. Now, you can’t come in every day and be a “5,” that’s a once in awhile thing and you need to be able to support your co-workers when they’re a “5,” but this allows teams to communicate when they’re not at their best and they need some compassion.

2 – You Need to Leave Your Attitude at the Door.

When you walk into the practice you are on stage, you are here for the patients, you are here to help our patients have an amazing experience. That is not always easy to do which is why I’ve balanced this with “What’s Your Number?” because sometimes it’s not possible to leave it, whatever it may be, at the door. However, you need to leave “drama” at the door, we’re paying you to do a job, and you need to come in and do your job. Your job is to take care of patients, work as a team, really know what your why is, keep the culture strong, know what your purpose is, and take care of the patients. Whatever is going on in your personal life, that needs to stay outside.

3 – Handle the Flare Ups Quickly and With Grace

Let’s say things do flare-up. Let’s say we have two assistants you know are upset about something and they’re slamming instruments or two front office people aren’t getting along or whoever, it doesn’t matter, what do we do then? We need to handle it and we need to handle it as soon as possible. We can’t let that fester and grow. We can’t because the first time maybe you and I don’t get along for a minute or two, then the next time I’m going to be a little less patient with you. I’m going to be a little less forgiving with you and I’m going to be a little more “oh, there she’s doing it again and now look, she’s doing it again.” We need to handle these things as they come up. If you’re the employee with the attitude spike, circle back around once you’ve calmed down and talk to your team. Handle it with grace and apologize.

Say “hey, you know what, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you that way” or “I didn’t mean to get upset with you I was having a bad morning” or something. Squash it and get rid of it right then. If somebody did it to you and they haven’t come to you to say they’re sorry, go talk to them and tell them you understand that things didn’t go well this morning, what could we do next time to make it better? Be the bigger person and go to them and ask how can we make sure that this doesn’t happen again? I don’t think there are enough teams who do this and we are all adults. We don’t need to go tell the office manager, or the doctor. Try not to let it grow and get bigger because it will. It’s like a fungus and it will continue to grow, I guarantee it.

4 – As a Leader, Set The Tone and Lead By Example

Doctors – your attitude makes a huge impact or difference in how the practice runs. If you walk in in the morning with a chip on your shoulder, unhappy, stressed, focused on news, negative, that negativity is going to seep into your practice and trickle down into your team. If you walk into the huddle in the morning and you’re grouchy, snippy, or snappy, do you think your team is going to want to approach you throughout the day? Do you think they are going to go above and beyond for you? Do you think they will feel motivated by you? It takes the entire team to keep that attitude out.

So, doctors, office managers, everyone reading this blog, everybody has to do their part to keep the outside drama out of the practice and anything that happens in the practice, understand it’s part of what we do. We have stressful jobs, things can get crazy at times, but if something happens simply acknowledge it and apologize or find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again but don’t let it grow because it will kill your dream team.

What do you do to leave your drama at the door? I would love to hear from you. We’re here to help us all grow and learn from one another so share your ideas of what you do in your practice.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.