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Practice Management and Coaching

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Using a coachable 360 feedback instrument, a coach can guide her client using more appreciative coaching techniques After reviewing specific survey questions with each dentist,  we attempted to put an appreciative coaching spin on things by asking questions or making statements such as the following:
⦁ Describe times you did function satisfactorily in this setting.
⦁ How did you feel at a time like that?
⦁ Where is the disconnect now?
⦁ How can you re-create that success?
⦁ If you were perceived as exceptionally good, how would your days be different?
⦁ What are some ways you think you can positively impact this misperception others appear to have about your ability?
⦁ What actions will you commit to taking? By when? How?

We spent a total of four hours with each individual dentist, reviewing the summary reports, clarifying their questions, comparing their projections with actual respondent results, discussing their feelings and reactions, reviewing specific coachable survey questions, and ultimately, planning for action. For part of this time, we prepared each man for addressing the other. This was an important part of the process, since they had given each other such critically negative feedback revealed in a separate category.

We also coached them about sharing some parts of their results with the entire team at a staff meeting and talked about behaviors they would continue to display and changes they intended to work on. This process was very positively received by the staff members who had feared the owners’ reactions. We received emails and phone calls from team members for weeks afterwards stating how moved they had been by the owners’ honesty, their vulnerability and willingness to work on personal change for the good of the dental practice. We continue to work on improving the communication between the two partners and have seen some significant changes that pro,-ide much hope.

Appreciative Coaching

Appreciative coaching has become a powerful intervention strategy in our work with dentists. For decades, US dentists have had the highest rates of substance abuse and suicide of any profession in the US.  One can speculate that this may be due to dentists experiencing low self-esteem, due to their perceived lower status when compared to physicians in the US health care arena. Or it may be attributed to performing procedures that so often inflict pain. Often dentists are treating patients who simply don’t want to be there due to fear of pain. Or it has been said that dentistry has been the brunt of jokes for so long that it has tarnished the image of the profession. Or maybe it is the almost debilitating dental school teaching model that dentists survive.

No matter what the reasons, appreciative coaching has had amazing transformational benefits on the dentists with whom we coach. Ultimately, this approach also benefits their businesses.  Both of us see a shift from spiraling negativity—looking at what is wrong and who is to blame.  The dentists now focus on situations when things have gone right and formally acknowledge employees for their contributions to these successes. Once these dentist clients experience appreciative coaching, they begin to try appreciative management techniques with their own employees and typically experience a renewed joy in owning and managing a business. When the client feels better and appreciated for what they do, they will repeat that behavior. Their behavior also becomes contagious resulting in a more cohesive and productive team.

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