Want to Achieve a Solid Employee Foundation in Your DSO? Develop Leadership Behavior First.


The challenge of attrition and employee turnover is one of the many challenges that DSOs and group practices have faced for many years. This issue is even more pronounced in today’s post-pandemic society and current economic climate. Achieving a stable personnel base and maintaining it is crucial for the growth, productivity, culture, and well-being of both employees and patients.

How do we retain dental personnel?  

Despite providing better benefits, increasing wages, creating better working environments, using improved technology, and promoting morale-building activities like conferences, workshops, and retreats, more must still be done.

A fundamental factor in combating the loss of dental personnel is to invest in developing the dental professional as a leader. Dental leaders include anyone in a leadership position, both clinical and non-clinical: C-Suites, dental directors, regional/local directors, office managers and dentists.

We must develop dental leaders and how they interact and communicate with others in the professional setting. Learning to be a better leader, rather than focusing primarily on managing responsibilities, will yield beneficial results. Leadership’s behavior makes a massive impact, positively or negatively, on the culture.

Leadership development and building human relationships is at the core of creating the DSO’s identity — not your company manual, new technology, or even annual meetings.

How do we develop leadership behavior skills?  

There are many skills required in leadership. However, let us focus on two: embracing discomfort and creating space and time.

➡️ Embracing discomfort  

Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Majeres of Harvard Medical School has shown that the more we flee a conflict or tense situation, the more anxiety we feel later in similar situations. And the more we embrace challenging situations, the more anxiety decreases later in similar situations. 

To develop our leadership behavior, we must not only be willing to engage with the unpleasant, but we must also welcome the challenging situation regardless of how we feel inside. Leaders who approach challenging situations with calmness and authority boost workplace morale and create a better, healthier working environment.

Crucial to developing your behavior as a leader is learning intentional control of your emotions during conflict or stressful times. Maintaining self-control while engaging in difficult situations is the hallmark of a good leader. A company culture with a climate of self-control provides an attractive working environment which staff will find harder to walk away from.

➡️ Creating space and time  

As leaders, we want to respond immediately to situations. We want to react and control situations instantly – sometimes by correcting, yelling, demanding, or worse yet, storming out of the room or out of the organization. But we cannot react to an unpleasant situation impulsively; we need space and time to craft an effective and thoughtful reaction.

Whether dealing with another team member or a patient, allowing space for thought, decision making and tempers to cool down is crucial. For example, it is widely known that President Abraham Lincoln, under pressure and stress, would write letters to his commanding officers and others but would not send them.  After giving himself time and space to think and analyze the situation, he would tear up the letters and rewrite new ones, which he would send.

To grow a solid DSO team, leaders need to realize that adopting individual behavior changes is essential, but the fruit of that – real organizational culture change – takes time. Time gives us the path to arrive at core questions. We go from asking what the shortcomings of our staff are to identifying the obstacles preventing our teams from achieving the desired results.

No two DSOs are exactly alike, but we all share the desire to develop a cohesive culture where we achieve team unity and stability. Being intentional in our behavior is the best place to start. We must learn more about ourselves and understand how we talk, interact, and respond to others. Healthy organizational culture begins with the leaders.

Written by Efrain Coronado, D.D.S.
Dr. Efrain Coronado is a general dentist who has practiced for 24 years. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. After graduating in 1998, he moved to Florida where he owned a private practice. In 2004, he joined Sage Dental. He has worked for Sage Dental for the past 18 years. After Sage Dental expanded into Georgia, Dr. Coronado relocated there. He is currently an associate dentist for Sage in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Dr. Coronado founded and led an international dental missionary group for seven years. He has also served as a dental examiner and consultant. He can be reached at: contact@coronadodds.net and connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/efraincoronadodds

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