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Practice Management and Coaching

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We worked with The Center for Executive Coaching, a division of The Professional School of Psychology (PSP) in Sacramento, California, to get their 360 instrument adapted for this small business and coached the two dentist owners about the announcement to the staff. Their process was a welcomed part of the overall teambuilding connected to the corporate performance review process started three months before. Staff members perceived us as trusted external consultants, since we had worked with this team of people for three years. They were quite pleased to know that we would be managing this feedback process.

For two weeks we fielded questions via phone and email from the team members, most of which consisted of the need to ensure confidentiality and some fears of retribution. Each of the dentists worked with their director of operations to identify the pool of 12 respondents who were asked to complete the feedback surveys on each partner. A few people completed a survey for each of the partners due to their working relationships. One was the director of operations who closely worked with both owners. Completed surveys were individually mailed to us. We did preliminary scoring then submitted survey data for final statistical analysis to PSP.

The results were disturbingly negative about both owner dentists. Subordinates were exceptionally critical, and the partners were brutally negative about each other. Similar to a larger corporate setting when one “boss” is in an isolated category, they were aware of feedback received from each other. The “peer” group provided the most balanced results. These peer surveys were completed by the two dentist associates and the Director of Operations. Some employees had been with this dental practice for over 20 years and it seemed as though they had “gunny sacked” gripes and grudges for years and dumped out their imaginary sack through this feedback instrument. It was a challenge to organize the data feedback so these two men were not devastated by the overall results.

A “Coachable” Instrument

Fortunately, the survey we used had two unique features. First, it is a coachable performance feedback instrument that allows the coach to go to specific “cases” or situations described in the survey and explore feelings and actions beyond just the statistical results. Second, in addition to self-scoring an instrument, each dentist-owner completed an additional feedback instrument predicting scores they would expect to receive from the overall group of twelve respondents. These two features provided ways to broaden their view and not concentrate solely on the negative aspect of the feedback received.

In many cases, although one dentist may have scored himself high while pooled feedback scored him very low, when we looked at his prediction of how he thought others would rate him, our dentist was exactly in sync with those respondents. That provided interesting opportunities to explore why this man had not yet taken any corrective action for a behavior he obviously already knew he was not perceived as doing well. The projected results in many cases neutralized the overwhelmingly negative respondent feedback.

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