Another example of the advantageous blend of practice management consulting and coaching is Dr. Lee. I had conducted business consulting for 8 months with his successful veterinary practice in the southeastern United States. Even though coaching was woven throughout this consulting process, we moved to scheduled, routine, separate coaching sessions at this veterinarian’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 veterinarian, 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, I 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 veterinary 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.
• We used an analytical problem solving 6-step process he and his whole staff had learned through our consulting. This included brainstorming alternative solutions which moved Dr. Lee beyond the sole solution he originally had – to leave this partnership and take his portion of the practice with him.
• We practiced “I” messages he had also learned through our consulting so he was comfortable confronting Dr. Ted (“I feel ________ when _________ because _____________________.”).
• We scripted his planned confrontation and practiced different reactions we anticipated his brother might have.