The Same Page

This may be one of the most important blogs I’ve ever written. I hope you read it and share it with your team. If your entire office isn’t on the same page with this, your office will NEVER be what you want it to be.

Let’s begin with this question. Doctors, do your teams fully support YOUR practice vision?

If not, why not? Do they even know what your vision is? Do YOU even know what your vision is? Does your team support you in your efforts to create the office that you want? Do you have a mission statement or goals that you work towards? Is your team aware of those things? Do they know what the practice will look and feel like a year or five years from now? Do they contribute to you moving in that direction or are they holding you back?

Apple Store

In my mind, the greatest visionary in the past 30 years is Steve Jobs. He had this unbelievable ability to see things that the rest of us couldn’t even imagine. Now, we can’t imagine life without iphones, itunes, ipods, and mac computers. All of those products were created in the same fashion according to Steve’s vision. He wanted to create products that not only looked modern and appealing but that also just worked really well. He stated, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” The same is true for the Apple Store. Have you ever been in one? They have a beauty and function that fits in perfectly with his vision. Just like his products, they are unlike any other store out there. If you have never been to one, please find one and step inside. Being inside an Apple Store is like being inside a work of art while being surrounded by the best computer minds.

Those stores are a direct result of an idea that Steve Jobs had. But, he certainly didn’t build that first store alone. Think about how that process went. I imagine he thought something like this.

  1. What is my vision? What do I want it to look and feel like?
  2. I need to communicate what’s going on in my head to other people.
  3. I need to make sure that everyone involved understands what I am trying to accomplish/build here.
  4. When I hire employees, I need them to be able to convey and carry out this vision everyday.

Pretty simple right? Hardly. I always think that when dealing with human beings, it’s a wonder anything gets accomplished because everyone has his/her own idea on how to do things. But seriously though, how was he able to execute his idea so well to everyone involved?

Here’s another example. Many young women (although I never did this!) imagine the day they will marry. When my sister was 10, she could describe her wedding dress, the bridal party, the colors, and the flowers that she would have one day. She had a vision of what she wanted her wedding day to be like. Can you imagine if  she had her eye on the dress of her dreams, but the sales lady made her buy another one? Or the florist refused to sell her lilies and instead pushed her to buy tulips. That would be maddening to her! It’s not how she had imagined it at all.

Think about this for your own offices. Doctors, do you have a vision as to what you want your practice to look like? To feel like? Have you communicated this to your team? Do they follow your vision or do they make up their own rules? What would you do if they didn’t follow your vision? Can you imagine if people just made up their own rules during the Apple Store process?

A good dental business owner probably thinks something like this.

  1. What is my vision? What do I want it to look and feel like?
  2. I need to communicate what’s going on in my head to other people.
  3. I need to make sure that everyone involved understands what I am trying to accomplish/build here.
  4. When I hire employees, I need them to be able to convey and carry out this vision everyday.

I’ve spoken to many offices around the country and am surprised by the number who have no vision or who have not communicated it to their teams. How can a team member be expected to help the doctor achieve all that he/she has worked for if they don’t know what they are working towards? Most of the time though, I hear from disgruntled doctors who are frustrated with team members who don’t follow their vision. My question to those team members is always, “If you were to own a business, wouldn’t you want all of your employees to help you achieve YOUR vision”?

If a doctor wants to have a Hawaiian themed office, then the team should support that with smiles on their faces everyday.  Don Ho should be playing on the radio and palm trees should line the hallway. (I, for one, would not be able to work in such an office, which is why I recommend knowing a bit about the office before applying. 😉 ) Team members shouldn’t complain about the doctor’s vision. It’s the doctor’s vision. Instead, they should learn the words to “Tiny Bubbles”.

If a doctor wants to focus on a particular new service, then the entire team should learn about that service and support the doctor by talking it up to the patients.

See what I’m saying here?

One of the most challenging things about owning and running an office is getting your team members to do things the way you want them done because it follows YOUR vision, and NOT THEIRS.

Truth be told, there are certain things around here that have to be done in a certain way and it’s not up for discussion. When those things aren’t done the way I want, I do get frustrated, because although there is ALWAYS a method to my madness, I don’t always need to explain it to every team member.  I know I’m not Steve Jobs, but as a dental office owner, I should be able to make some decisions that my team will just have to live with. There are definitely some things around here that I can just “see” better than other employees-because it’s my job to see those things. Sometimes that means putting certain people in place to do certain things. It doesn’t mean anything terrible is happening. It just means that I have an idea on how I’d like something to go. It’s my job to think of those things. It’s the team’s job to execute the plays I put in action. I’m the coach around here. The hygienists, assistants, and front desk are my players. Steve Jobs was the coach, everyone else a player on his team. I’m sure that along the way he had TONS of people questioning him, doubting him, and whispering behind his back. I applaud him for his unrelenting efforts and for not letting others get in the way of his vision.

I encourage you to identify your current and long term vision and communicate that with your teams. Make sure that your AND your employee’s actions are contributing to your vision.

I’m thankful for people like Steve Jobs who challenge us to have a vision. If it weren’t for him, I’d still be carrying around my CD walkman and talking in a tin can.

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