April 7, 2020
by Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, CEO and Founder of Cellerant Consulting
Inspiration can get a bad wrap. Whether in school or conferences, inspiration can get the short shrift, coded as soft skill that is nice to have, but not a leadership essential. My experience as a clinician, businessman and consultant proves that just isn’t the case.
The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word spiro, which means “to breathe.” This seems especially appropriate in considering how you as a practice leader discuss and integrate new technology. You can bring new life into your practice and enthusiasm to your team. It is critical to remember that you are more than just the purchaser-in-chief or signature on the check. You need to involve and motivate your team members in decisions around new products – and technology in particular – since they will be integral in its implementation, patient experiences, and overall success.
There are four core components to inspiring your team in the mastery of new technology:
1. Communicate Your Vision
The goal for any transition shouldn’t be perfection, but preparation. Before you purchase new technology, you need to establish a “practice persona” that can compel your team to be committed and enthusiastic, even when faced with the inevitable bumps in the road. If you convey passion in providing state-of-the-art technology and clinical processes, your team members will sense this and be proud that the office and they as individuals represent the leading edge of dentistry. After all, the technology you choose may be a key differentiator between you and your competitors.
This vision serves as your guidepost. It will answer questions about why you are doing this, how it will help your staff, how it will improve patient care and enhance the practice as a whole. Your vision statement about technology represents your values, your goals and your picture of success.
2. Partner With Your Team
One mistake many dentists make is to go off to a conference, purchase new technology on impulse and announce its imminent arrival on Monday morning. Understanding that team members are often the ones who will use the new technology and communicate about it to your patient base, incorporating them in the decision-making process and providing them with that level of ownership mentality is very often the make-or-break point for integration success.
Invite your team members to meet with you and vendors, if possible. Share information about the options and your criteria. The more involved your team is in the purchasing phases, the more invested they will be in the implementation phase.
3. Train Your Team Effectively
If you want your investment in technology to succeed, you also need to make sure your team is provided with excellent training. You are both the leader of the practice and the role model for your team, so it is essential that you be present for all on-site or off-site training.
What do I mean by “effective” training? It should be organized around specific learning outcomes. It should be hands on. Ideally, it should be delivered in half-day increments as opposed to one long, intensive day. In addition, you will need training on updates so your team remains current and you can maximize the technology to its fullest extent.
4. Appoint a Technology Liaison
Choose a team member who will be the information leader for each piece of technology. This person would act as the liaison between the technology vendor/trainers and you and your team. This strategy gives the team ownership and responsibility and helps develop self-directed leaders among your team members. It is a way to communicate both to your team and to your vendor that you trust and empower your team.
As you are doing the crucial work of inspiring your team, remember how important it is that you be inspired in the process. Look for the products and technology that breathe new life into your approach to clinical care and practice management. It is my hope that this column will become a source of new ideas and innovations that will get you excited about what is next in our industry. Your excitement will be contagious.
Note: As a columnist for Dental Products Report and Dental Economics, some of these technologies or concepts may have been discussed in other platforms. All content for Oral Health readership is original.