How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

Gossip is something many dental practices deal with. Many of us experience it in our practice. It is important for all team members to be able to voice concerns and resolve problems. Everyone needs to be able to talk about and improve work conditions. They need to be able to get feedback on how to handle situations and brainstorm solutions.

But when people resort to gossip, it causes pain, fractures trust, and creates a toxic culture. To eliminate gossip, we must understand where it comes from and create a safe environment to resolve issues before they lead to gossip. Here are six characteristics of a healthy, gossip-free practice culture.

1. Clear Expectations and Accountability

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Dentists and other practice leaders must be very clear that there should not be any gossip happening in the office. Educate the team on the best ways to get help with team members or leadership. Talk with them about ways they can communicate with each other to discuss and help find solutions to issues in a productive way.

Ask your team members to also lead the way and set those clear expectations with each other and when new people join the practice. Clear expectations and accountability will help ensure a no-gossip environment continues over the long term.

2. Vulnerability-Based Trust

Vulnerability-based trust occurs when people are comfortable sharing problems they are experiencing without fear of retaliation or losing respect. It also occurs when people feel safe discussing issues with the person causing the issue—especially as the dentist or team leader. With vulnerability-based trust, people know others will support them in finding solutions and not judge them for not being able to solve a problem on their own.

There must be vulnerability-based trust among your entire team. If issues cannot be resolved because there is no trust, that is an environment that is ripe for gossip.

3. Agreement and Commitment from the Entire Team

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Make sure there's agreement and a commitment from everyone in on the team to having no gossip in the office. This is not something one leader or dentist can do on their own.

Most of the time, gossip happens outside of the dentist or team leader's presence. If the issue is about them, the gossip will occur outside of their presence. If the issue is about someone else, their conversations are generally solution-focused. That is why it is important for leaders to set expectations but get wider agreement and commitment. The team's commitment and agreement will define your long-term success when it comes to building a no-gossip environment.

4. Commitment to Discuss Issues With any Person Directly With That Person

When the team is comfortable discussing problems or challenges with the person causing it in a productive way, everyone wins. If someone needs help, that is fine. Even having somebody sit with you while you discuss something that is difficult can help keep the situation productive.

Encourage your entire team to address things head on directly with the person causing the issue. If they want help, encourage them to approach leadership with their concerns so they can get advice and direction.

5. Solutions-Based Communication

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Keep lines of communication open by promoting and practicing solutions-based communication.  Leaders must keep communication lines open and allow people to talk about difficult things in a productive way—especially if they need to give the leaders feedback. This avoids putting up a barrier that leaves team members confused about how to get issues solved. Because they will not know what to do they will start talking with each other and make it much more likely that the conversation will lead to gossip.

Ask team members to bring suggested solutions to conversations if they need to talk about something difficult. The solution you bring might not be the one that is adopted but it ensures the tone of the conversation is solution-focused. Let them know that it is ok if they do not have a suggestion. In those cases, ask them to be able to discuss things they considered. That will also help focus the conversation on finding solutions.

6. Real-Time Feedback

Create an environment of consistent real-time feedback—positive feedback and constructive criticism. When we constantly solicit feedback, we will create an environment that catches issues early.  When somebody needs to give you constructive criticism, it can be difficult to not get emotional or upset. You can ask clarifying questions but make it a safe discussion or people will eventually resort to gossip.

We can create an environment of consistent real-time feedback by asking for feedback at the end of each shift. Ask team members what went well and where could we have done better. As time goes on, these conversations help avoid things from getting to the point where team members feel the need to gossip.

Are you building a gossip-free environment?

An environment with these six characteristics gives all team members a safe place to have their voices heard and resolve issues without needing to resort to gossip.

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If you’re anything like the 300 practices that have gone through our Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, you may be feeling like your team could use a bit more energy and excitement about growing the practice. That way they could spend less time on gossip and more time serving patients and doing the dentistry we all love. If that sounds familiar, then this is your invitation to join our 21-day Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, and get a 20% discount at checkout when you use the code CHALLENGE here.

Three Things Every Dentist Needs from Others to Grow Their Practice

One of the first things you’ll learn after making the decision to grow your dental practice is you’ll never scale your practice if you try to do everything yourself.

If you want to grow, you’ll need help. Internally, this means finding the right team to transform your practice, so you won't have to do everything yourself. Internal team members can take tasks off your hands and help you document and implement systems to help your practice run without you.

It also means looking outside of your practice to hire specialists and coaches. The benefits of engaging outside help include being able to get experienced, independent help without having to commit to a costly, expensive relationship. Engaging a specialist or coach on a part-time or project basis is much easier than committing to a full-time team member.

If you’re only getting help with projects and tasks, however, you’ll miss out on three key things every dentist needs to build a practice that can run without them.

These three things make you more productive, organized, and effective. They keep you focused when times are good. And they prop you up when times are tough. Collectively, they can help you turn a good practice into a thriving one.

1. Accountability.

Building a thriving dental practice requires consistent work in six areas. Without someone helping you stay accountable and pushing you forward, it's easy to try to cut corners, lose focus, or procrastinate.

Having someone in your corner who pushes you to keep moving forward, checks in with you to make sure you’re progressing, and isn’t afraid to call you out if you start to lose focus is critical to maintaining momentum.

Accountability is usually found through a trusted friend or colleague who agrees to be an accountability partner to you or through an independent business coach whom you hire to help guide you.

2. Organized and customized information.

Information is a commodity. It’s everywhere. Organized and customized information is extremely valuable, however.

You can learn anything you want through a simple Google search. I guarantee there’s a how-to guide, YouTube video, blog, article, or white paper on any topic you can think of.

So why is organized and customized information so valuable if free information is everywhere? So many reasons. Here are two very important ones. First, free information is usually very generic. You can find a how-to guide for anything, but it might not work for you. Relevant information helps you avoid the time-consuming and often costly task of weeding through irrelevant information or advice that doesn’t work for you.

Second, most people don’t even know what to search for. For example, you might know you want to learn how to run Facebook ads for your practice. If you just search for how to run a Facebook ad, you’ll find some information. But you might not find information about sophisticated techniques that can get you returns as high as 5000%. Having someone collect and organize customized information removes you from the equation and helps you get better results. In other words, it helps you spend less time and make more money.

Organized and customized information is often provided by experienced specialists or coaches, each of whom needs to be up to date on the latest information in their specialized field to get you the best information for you.

3. Unbiased advice.

You’ll never grow your practice to its full potential if you surround yourself with people who will agree with everything you say.

Whether it’s your team members, outside specialists, or a business coach, make sure everyone knows a vital part of their performance involves telling you the truth. Let them know that’s what you expect.

This is very difficult with internal team members because they rely on your practice for their full-time income and are often conflicted. Also, most people say they want people to tell them the truth, but don’t really want that, so team members are naturally hesitant. Over time, you can gain their trust, however. Also, they’re often too close to the details of the day-to-day operation to identify issues and solutions.

Unless and until you build a team of people who can see things objectively and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth about your practice (and yourself) to help you grow, you’ll need to rely on outside consultants or business coaches, who are removed from the day-to-day operations enough to look at your practice with fresh eyes. They’re hired to be independent eyes and voices. Make sure they know that.

The sky’s the limit with these three things.

Dentists who have accountability, organized and customized information, and unbiased advice are the most focused, have the best information available, and get advice they know isn’t tainted by someone else’s personal fears or desires. This gives them a big advantage when growing their practice.

From where do you get your accountability, information, and advice? How could you be more accountable and get better information and advice?

How to Achieve Your Goals in Less Time with Vidal Cisneros, Jr.

Vidal Cisneros Jr is podcast host of Thriving Beyond. Vidal has keynoted conferences and has been featured and written for The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project.

As a contributing author of Chicken soup for the soul, Vidal teaches others that to find success and uncover purpose in our lives we must master our personal habits, step out of our comfort zone, and surround ourselves with people who have achieved success.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The importance of having a personal vision for your life
  • The role of goal setting in getting results
  • Which sort of mindset is needed to maximize results
  • How setting deadlines to achieve your goals can fast-track your success
  • Why it's important to get someone to hold you accountable
  • How can you get your team to buy into your practice's vision
  • Which systems can be put in place to make sure that you achieve your goals
  • Which single thing you can do to fast-track your success

Links In the Episode:

Vidal Cisneros Jr. 

Thriving Beyond Book

Thriving Beyond Podcast

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