Marketing for Dentists | Are You Asking the Right Questions? Do you work hard to avoid having difficult conversations with your employees? Do you do everything in your power to keep the peace, just accepting some poor behaviors rather than start a confrontation? Whatever reason you choose to avoid these conversations, you shouldn’t allow the inability to confront the things that truly matter to the success of your business hold you back. For many of us, it’s not the fear of confrontation that’s holding us back. Rather, we are fearful of disrespecting someone who we’ve come to depend on or even like as a person. In essence, we fear that any confrontation will result in the loss of a relationship. Before we become comfortable with these kinds of conversations, it can seem like a big deal to confront someone about their behavior. However, once we do, we realize that these conversations aren’t about an argument or a “fight”. They’re a way to clarify expectations and check-in with your team. In many ways, confrontation allows you to ask your team questions that help them grow as both employees and people. Let’s say you have an employee who’s become unreliable. Once a week for a month they have an excuse or reason for not coming in or showing up late. You see the pattern and you feel like you can’t rely on them. Not only are they letting you down, but they’re letting the entire team down too. A lot of people shy away from that direct line of communication and instead bring up their issues in an indirect way. Here’s what that Indirect Communication may look like: “I’m glad you’re feeling better and I’m happy that you’re back. We definitely need you here.” Did you get your point across? Does your employee understand that their attendance matters and that you need them to make a change? Not at all. Conversely, here’s what Direct Communication/Confrontation may look like: “I’m really glad that you’re feeling better. We definitely need you around here. What can we do to make sure you arrive on time every day?” What have you changed? You’ve asked your employee to consider what their actions have cost the team and the business. You’ve also given them an opportunity to consider how they could improve without being accusatory or judgemental yourself. Now, when asked this question, people can react in a few different ways. One of which will be that an employee seeks to avoid the confrontation. Yes, your employees dislike confrontation as much as you do and they may try to sidestep you. An example would be: “Oh absolutely. I love this place. I can’t believe how that thing happened, and then how that happened, and everything that happened was all so far outside of my control, but I can tell you right now – it won’t happen again.” While it may seem like the issue has been resolved, it really hasn’t been. The problem is that the employee isn’t taking any responsibility. Maybe one of the four times they’ve made an excuse, it was a completely unavoidable set of circumstances. Those other three times? Not so much. If that person wants to be a part of your team, they’re going to have to start taking responsibility. How can you help that happen? Ask the right questions. “How can you be better prepared for that situation so that it won’t interfere with your ability to make it to work?” If the person cares about you and their job, they may become quiet and introspective for a moment, truly considering how they could have done things differently. They’ll come back with something to truly better themselves. If they are just trying to take advantage, that employee will come back with some sort of inflamed comment: “Well, there was no way that I could have prevented any of this!” Either way, you’ll know where you stand with your employees and whether or not they’re going to be a part of your long term team. As a dentist, you may feel that this isn’t something you need to deal with. You went to school to be a dentist and you’re very good at it. However, it’s still important to master the leadership of your team. Get comfortable with confrontation. It’s a part of your business and it’s nothing more than a discussion and dealing with a situation. The more comfortable you get, the more you’ll be able to use it to your business’s advantage. Master it, and see the results impact every aspect of your life. If you’re looking for help when it comes to your team communication or your leadership skills, you can contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know what issues you’re facing and I’ll do my best to give you advice that helps you find solutions. I look forward to hearing from you soon.