We hear the importance of culture to optimally run a business all the time. We know we need to inculcate it in our organisation, big or small. But that is only the beginning of a long, tedious, confusing but extremely rewarding journey.
What is Culture Anyway?
Culture is the sum of everyone’s attitudes, beliefs, behaviour, traditions and skills. So culture really belongs to everyone within an organisation. So if you take a dental practice, it doesn’t belong to the owner of the practice, it belongs to everybody that works in and around it. It is driven by the feedback from the patients too, so obviously it is the sum of everybody working in, and connected to the business.
Building a positive and productive culture requires deliberate efforts. It is not something that will organically build itself, like most businesses tend to believe. If you want a great culture, that will in return generate great results, you have to be deliberate about it. You need to understand your own goals and values as well as those of your team members; and then find a balance between the two.
Seek Fulfilment, Everything Else Will Follow
As business owners, monetary gains are at the top of our minds, which sometimes lead us to make the wrong decisions and put other interests in the backseat. This mind-set makes the work environment toxic to say the least. Research shows that people would rather work in a happy environment with great leadership for less money than in a toxic environment that pays well.
And in times of active social media and an active review and ratings culture, it is very easy for disgruntled people to get the word out if the practice has a toxic culture. What you should be focusing on is seeking fulfilment. To make sure that your work principles and ethics are not being compromised; to make sure that your team members are happily proactive and always opt for organic growth that all the team members are a part of.
The Know-it-All Approach to Disaster
This is leadership mistake 101 and can at times be solely responsible for killing the culture of any business. As managers and team leaders we need to understand that in order to be the smartest person in the room, you need to be the dumbest person in the room. You should be the one asking questions rather than answering them.
Allow your team members to speak to you about their expectations and ideas and they will carry you forward to greater successes all on their own.
The Culture is Nobody’s to Own
This somehow correlates with the previous point. You need to know that you can neither claim responsibility nor ownership of the culture of your business. Too often we see huge banners, posters and pamphlets scattered all around screaming culture in an organisational space. Those are not interesting to look and neither do they serve any positive purpose.
You cannot just set up some ground rules to be followed and expect it to become a culture. Just like most things great and growing, it needs to evolve. You need to constantly keep your team members on board and be proactive in order to develop and maintain a healthy culture.
Getting to Know Your Vision
Before you expect others to help you reach your goals, you need to be sure and specific about them yourself. Sure, every dentist wants to build a successful dental practice, perhaps the finest in the area or even the rest of the world. But in order to become it, you need to understand your vision. You need to have clear definitions of your goals and objectives so everyone knows what they are working towards in the first place.
Signs of a Good Culture
So how do you know you have a good thing going on? In all fairness, it is not hard to detect. Everyone deserves a grumpy day every now and then, but if your team members continuously show up to work without a smile on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes, then know that something isn’t right.
And how do you fix it? You openly communicate. Rather than blaming them for not being productive/active/involved enough, you should try to be on their side and ask them how you can make their work more fun and interesting.
How to Get the Work Done?
‘Sweet talk doesn’t get the work done, Jesse,’ No it most definitely does not! Which is why you need to set the ground rules beforehand. You need to let your team members know what is expected of them and hold them responsible for it.
Performance management is one of the best methods to ensure everyone’s on track with their responsibilities within an organisation. If the culture, or business productivity for that matter is suffering because someone isn’t doing their job properly or isn’t on-board with the culture of the company, despite warnings and emotional support, then you need to let go of that person before it gets more toxic.
How to Recruit for Culture
A great culture begins with great employees. So rather than employing a misfit person and then working on them, it makes sense to recruit for culture.
Make sure you hire someone who is flexible and committed and has the same values as yours. Also, always opt for the three month probationary period so that you can assess if the person can do what they say they can do and behave the culture expects them to behave.
The Last Word
The only way you can ensure a healthy, proactive and result oriented culture where everyone involved happily works towards similar goals is to make sure you continuously work on it from the backseat. Agreed, it is a tricky position to be in and it will take some time before you, your team members and your patients are all on board with it, but it is a process that will generate great rewards. So keep the culture alive and it will keep you in business.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:
1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”
The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here
2. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too
It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here
3. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event
Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here
4. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here