Coaching is Like Preventive Dentistry

One of the most challenging situations for a dentist is how to respond when the team makes mistakes.  When the health history is not reviewed chair-side or charges for the day are not posted correctly, what is the most effective way to respond?  Or do you just let it go?

One-time mistakes, especially when you are busy or under-staffed, are understandable.  When mistakes happen repeatedly, it is time for coaching.  However, too many times dentists slowly start taking on the clinical tasks themselves without sorting through the root causes of the oversights.  When the team sees this, they sense the dentist has lost confidence in them, which leads to more mistakes.

Or, dentists let the mistakes build up until one day they react in an over-the-top way that alienates the team.  This overreaction shuts down communication and creates disharmony, less than ideal conditions for growing a practice.

Therefore, when the team is making mistakes, bring the oversights to their attention outside of where patients can hear the conversation.  Since mistakes are often the result of misunderstandings, discuss what led to the errors and make sure expectations are clear.  Maybe a system or protocol needs refining.  Maybe the team member needs to learn additional skills.  These moments are great for coaching.

As someone once said, “Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.”  Effective coaching is like preventive dentistry: the effort inches you closer to better outcomes.  When mistakes start happening, take a proactive approach and coach your team.

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