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Practice Management and Coaching

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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 projecting scores they would 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 projected results of what he thought others would say, he 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.

Using a coachable 360 feedback instrument, a coach can guide her colleague or client using more appreciative coaching techniques. After reviewing specific survey questions with each dentist, I 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 at ________, 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 to ________________?
• What actions will you commit to taking?  By when?  How?

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