A coach working with clients who often possess a predominantly negative spin on life (as described above) will find ample opportunities for recognizing distinctive strengths and competencies as well as uncovering obscure strengths and competencies. By creating a sanctuary through the coaching sessions, dentists are given a safe time and place to explore, experiment and ultimately learn.
Dr. White, a suburban dentist operating outside a moderate size Midwestern city, just purchased an existing practice. In doing so, he not only purchased the practice (building and patients) but also agreed to rehire the team along with their existing benefits and pay. At first, the team loved having this young, fresh new dentist who was much different than the previous one who was very dictatorial. They showered Dr. White with appreciation. All was well for a few months until the team began noticing they were reaching the bonus numbers but not actually getting the bonus in their paychecks. Soon, the team became disgruntled and quickly turned against this new dentist. Ironically, the previous dentist (whose departure they initially celebrated) was now missed. They wanted him back. The new dentist felt like he was failing the team and was spiraling into depression. He wanted to quit.
The team was not aware of the financial challenges facing the new dentist. Things had changed even though the practice looked the same and the patients looked the same. Even the staff looked the same — no changes or turnover. The financial overhead, however, was now very different. Once Dr. White purchased the practice, he brought debt. The previous dentist had the practice for 35 years and had paid off his debt several years ago. The practice was in a much different place when he sold to Dr. White.
Dr. White was coached on what to say to his team and how and when to be more open. Though not 100% satisfied, the team now at least understood why they were not bonusing and no longer felt that Dr. White was hoarding the money from them. Today, they are all on the same page with a new bonus structure that is healthier for the business but still provides compensation for the team.
As Maya Angelou, US poet laureate, has stated “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Appreciative coaching has made these dentists “feel” successful, pleased with themselves and more satisfied with life. It doesn’t get much better than that for a coach who works with professionals.