Your Leadership Mettle is Being Tested!

by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers

After an early summer that seemed so promising, signs of a 4th wave are leaving all of us wondering what is next. How will we end 2021 and how will we begin 2022?

Let’s face it…business planning has likely never been more challenging than it is right now!

The impact on dentistry has been a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, we fared better than many businesses which had to remain in complete lockdown well beyond the first wave of Covid. However, PPE shortages, increased supply costs, physically revamping our offices, investing in air filters and longer fallow time, has meant that dentistry did not get off “scott free!”

Let’s not forget dentistry had the early, front row seat to what many are now referring to as “The Great Resignation.” The labour shortage this has produced is pushing salaries higher while reducing the number of hours many people are willing to work.

For business owners, this seems incredibly overwhelming. And hoping for a return to a world of stability and predictability may be nothing more than just that…hope! As a friend from my university days wrote in her own, non-dental blog, welcome to the world of VUCA! 

VUCA is an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, concepts that do not sit well with the scientific, dental mind. At the risk of oversimplifying things, it essentially means the pace or frequency of dramatic change in our world has increased to the point that traditional business planning has become more challenging than ever.

We are no longer talking about gradual and more manageable, incremental change. VUCA is like “change on steroids.” And if you are not ready to deal with it, it can be quite disconcerting.

So how do you develop an annual plan for your business when VUCA could render those plans obsolete in no time? The first step is to realize that, even when this happens, the mere fact you went through the planning process will put you in a better position to respond to that change than would be the case had you not planed at all! Without a plan, the direction of your business will be entirely determined by the direction the winds of change choose to blow.

A plan will at least allow you to steer the ship. And the best way to achieve this is to make sure you incorporate a process for dealing with change into your business plan. The nature of the change may be difficult to anticipate. You simply want to be in the best position to respond to it so that change does not drive you off course from your end goal.

A key element of this plan must involve your team in the process.

Your team is just as concerned about VUCA as you are. However, as employees, they may not feel as empowered to respond positively to the latest round of volatility and uncertainty. That lack of control can often create more stress than one experiences as the decision maker in the face of change. Not only are they at the mercy of VUCA, they are at the mercy of how you respond to it!

But this does not have to be the case!

If you involve your team in the change process, you will be giving them a greater sense of control over their own destiny. Studies show that workplaces who adopt a transparent approach and invite team participation have a higher level of engagement and satisfaction. These are essential elements when dealing with the uncertainty of change!

Being the leader in the face of VUCA is challenging. But building a great team that includes their voices means you do not have to face those challenges alone. Just imagine how rewarding it can be to work together to tackle what the world is throwing at us today!

About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.