By: Dr. Joseph T. Bowles
If you have been reading the recent editions of the ChiroThoughts Newsletter entitled Qualifications for Quality, you have been getting some great ideas and methods to enhance Service Quality. Today’s offering will complement that series and as promised will identify the 800 Pound Gorilla that can be present in a chiropractic office and what to do about him. If you are a newcomer to our weekly complimentary class on practice enriching ideas, you can go back and read any newsletter Dr. Heun and I have published by going to the newsletter archives section of our website located at www.chiropracticementoring.com.
If you read Part IV of ‘Qualifications for Quality’ you might remember that I briefly touched on the concept of enriching your life and practice as opposed to defining your life and practice. Personal enrichment while building a highly profitable practice is one of the many common threads that run through everything we advocate at ChiroPractice Mentoring. Personal enrichment is a very complex issue that involves the motivation behind everything we do each day. However, the difference between an enriching and a defining activity in your practice is very simple; activity that enriches brings people together and adds enjoyment. It is those things we all do from time to time that have the phrase ‘glad-to’ attached to it. A defining activity is one that we simply do because we feel we ‘have-to’ and drives people apart albeit in a professional manner.
Now understand that I am not falling prey to overly optimistic thinking and suggesting the possibility of a utopian clinic environment. What I think is important to note is that the scales of ‘have-to’ versus ‘glad-to’ can be heavily weighted to the wrong side. Should a DC give a weekly patient orientation because they ‘have-to’ or because they are ‘glad-to’ while doing so? ‘Glad-to’ efforts are enriching to the DC and last for prolonged periods of time while reaping great benefits. The opposite is true of ‘have-to’ efforts. From personal experience I can say that DC’s that are ‘glad-to’ do the many things necessary to develop Service Quality in their clinics rarely have prolonged droughts in any statistical category.
So what is this 800-Pound Gorilla all about? Let me ask you this; have you been feeling a bit exasperated lately? Has 2010 begun to show some signs that your overall production for the year could be less than 2009? If so, the 800-Pound Gorilla is usually the atmosphere of a clinic that seems to be mostly an ongoing labor without a consistent direction for growth. Long term it ends up in stressful burnout for the DC and disinterest for the employees. It’s about dysfunction; there are definite earmarks to dysfunction within a clinic. Seeing that there is a problem is one thing, more important is the actual removal.
How do we get rid of this strength-sapping simian of dysfunction? First of all he is a big rascal. So, we cannot arm wrestle him, but then he’s not as scary as we might think. Maybe we can lure him away with a sack of bananas? Or poison him? Or teach him to sit up and beg? Let’s see. The first step in eliminating the dysfunction I, think is the equivalent of King Kong is to determine the ‘state of the team’ working with the public. In determining the state of the team, you must ask yourself two questions: Question #1 would be “Are we really a team?” Seems simple enough. You might say yes but I think once you see the earmarks of a dysfunctional team you might see some room for improvement at your clinic.
Question #2 is “are you ready to get some things done?” Since our last installment, have you begun using a ‘morning huddle?’ Have you bought the book Tongue Fu or something similar to use in developing human relations skills? If you have been thinking about it but have yet to begin, allow me to digress momentarily. “Not begun until half done” stated the English poet John Keats concerning accomplishment. Just thinking about taking those first steps to get anything done are key to success but woefully inadequate for a successful outcome that will enrich any DC’s existence. Completion and consistency are two earmarks of ‘glad-to’ efforts in normally functioning clinics. Therefore, what are you waiting on?
Here are the 5 features of a dysfunctional team that you must rid yourself of. I feel as though that during my 30+ years of solo practice, multiple doctor practice, multiple clinic ownership and faculty member at CCC-KC; I innately knew these points and addressed them as needed. Over the years, I was quite blessed with many great teams that went above and beyond. Below is a summarization from a great book entitled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni that mirror my assertions on the subject.
1.) Absence of Trust: Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental level. They are comfortable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with one another.
2.) Fear of Conflict: Teams that trust one another are not afraid to engage in dialogue around decisions that are key to success. They do not hesitate to question one another. Dialog is all in the spirit of finding the best answers, discovering the truth, and making great decisions.
3.) Lack of Commitment: Great teams are able to achieve genuine buy-in around important decisions, even when various members of the team initially seem hesitant.
4.) Avoidance of Accountability: Teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decisions and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the DC as the primary source of accountability; they go directly to their coworkers.
5.) Inattention to Results: Teams that hold one another accountable are very likely to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus almost exclusively on what is best for the team, therefore the clinic. They do not give in to the temptation of placing their personal needs/wants completely ahead of the collective results that define team/clinic success.
These 5 points are plenty of food for thought. Their inclusion into your staff/team development process will enrich your clinic when used along with the morning huddle and developing human relations skills.