Training for Success

Rapid growth, without the tools to sustain it, is a recipe for failure. Take Diane, for example.

Diane was one of the best employees we’ve come across in three decades of dental, healthcare, and executive coaching. Her official title was Practice Administrator. She was a magician — keeping the schedule filled, organizing productive meetings, keeping collections high and accounts receivables low, motivating almost anyone to start treatment, getting to work early— and she had a quick mind, great attitude, and a smile on her face. She was viewed as the “Office Manager” even though that job consisted mainly of managing vacation schedules, payroll, and some bookkeeping. She had never actually hired, fired, or disciplined any employee. She had never given a performance review nor had a coaching conversation with anyone. She did not set or review goals and had never seen a budget or a P & L statement.

One day she was called into the owner’s office to learn that he had purchased two nearby practices and would be consolidating them with his into one group practice over the next few months with future plans of adding more locations. He told Diane that because of the stellar job she had done for him and the way the team and patients loved her, he wanted to offer her the job of Practice Administrator… which was what she thought she already was… with a nice bump in salary and a few additional benefits. She would just need to watch over all three practices just like she had this one. Easy peasy, right?

Diane was flattered, excited, and anxious to help. She enthusiastically took the position… no questions asked. And, that was where the trouble began…

Over the past decade there has been a huge rise in the consolidation of healthcare, veterinary, and dental practices. To achieve economies of scale and compete with large MSO’s or DSO’s, many solo practitioners form small- to medium-size groups. This restructuring typically demands a new mid-level tier of management.

At LionSpeak, we have seen countless people promoted into these exciting positions because they were loyal, dedicated employees and very good at their jobs… be it scheduling, treatment presentations, hygiene, or chairside assisting. But, being good at a skill is not the same as being good at managing, growing, and leading a team of people. Those are different competencies altogether.

Without the proper tools, training, and ongoing support, anyone will struggle in a new position, especially if they are now in what we call the “sandwich position”… working directly between the owners and the team.

One of the most important skills a mid-level manager must master is the ability to have courageous conversations with co-workers, subordinates, and those at higher levels of leadership. They must be able to clarify, inspire, and coach their teams to higher levels of productivity and excellence. They must make sure their team members align with the owner’s vision and values. They must have crucial, sometimes hard, conversations with the leadership team when issues arise and clarification is necessary. But, they must also be able to handle these situations with grace, non-judgement, and from an emotionally-stable position, always setting the example for others on how to communicate like a pro.

Luckily, these are not difficult skills to learn, though they can take some practice to master. Without these skills, understanding how the schedule works or how to close a treatment presentation won’t make much difference because newly promoted managers can no longer do it all alone, no matter how well they did it in the past. To accomplish the goals at this level, they need a team; therefore, they must master delegation, coaching, and growth techniques.

If you find yourself in this position now or you aspire to a management position in the future or you are thinking of promoting someone within your own business… set yourself and your team up for success. Invest in training and ongoing support to help them master the skills they’ll need to inspire, nurture, and thrive with the team they are called to lead.

This is what we do at LionSpeak. We’d love to help.


“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly is the ultimate advantage.”
Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE

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