Dr. Smith, a dentist in a cosmetic practice in Colorado, repeatedly complained to us about frustrations she had with her office manager’s substandard performance. It was having a negative impact on the practice. Though Dr. Smith knew she needed to terminate this employee, she was in fear of letting her go since her employee was so well known in the community. To help the doctor overcome her fear, we began coaching her on how to confront this employee. We discussed the pros and cons of keeping this employee. Ultimately, Dr. Smith had to come to the conclusion that this employee was not going to change in the time frame or manner that she needed. Once that was determined, Dr. Smith could move to the next step of how to confront the situation by writing out a verbal script for a variety of different responses this team member might provide. In the end, Dr. Smith was overly prepared and satisfied that her decision was a good one for herself, the practice and her patients. Since that time, Dr. Smith has felt more empowered to express her needs and wants in a timely manner to her employees and no longer feels a prisoner to them.
Another example of the advantageous blend of practice management consulting and coaching concerns Dr. Lee. One of us had conducted business consulting for 8 months with Dr. Lee’s successful dental practice in the Eastern United States. Even though coaching was woven throughout this consulting process, we moved to scheduled, routine, separate coaching sessions at this dentist’s request once he experienced two private coaching sessions focused on a personal situation that had angered him.
He and his partner of 10 years, Dr. Ted, who is his younger brother and is also a dentist, had begun having communication problems when Dr. Ted started dating their newly hired business administrator. Dr. Lee sent me a desperate sounding email, uncharacteristic of his personality style, asking for private telephone time with me.
In those two sessions, one of us actively listened as Dr. Lee vented about his brother’s pattern of enmeshing his personal life into their business. His only solution initially was to leave their partnership and take his portion of the dental practice with him. We covered a lot of territory over two sessions as highlighted below:
⦁ We guided him to articulate then explore his feelings of anger and betrayal.
⦁ We reviewed key characteristics (focusing on strengths) of each of their personality styles using the DiSC instrument. Dr. Lee was coached to approach his brother using verbal and nonverbal communication that reflected his brother ‘s personality style versus Dr. Lee’s own dominant style.
⦁ We used an appreciative model and identified prior times his brother had contributed positively to the veterinary practice partnership.
⦁ We guided Dr. Lee to be able to distinguish between a mere irritation with his brother’s behavior versus a real problem that has a concrete negative effect on Dr. Lee and/or on their dental practice.