Mindset of a Coach

In Culture by Dental Entrepreneur

“Mindset” is a word that is thrown around a lot. Many people mistake it as another word for “attitude.” This is key: Mindset is NOT the same thing as attitude. Attitude changes with emotion and environment, whereas mindset, is intentional. It doesn’t just happen. It requires hard work and focus every single day. It’s essential if a doctor, as the head coach, is going to be successful. Most people don’t realize there are two different types of mindsets: growth and fixed.

A growth mindset can be described as someone who wants to learn. This is a team member with an open heart. This team member is coachable. A fixed-mindset individual doesn’t want to learn anything new… and they won’t. They’ll dig in their heels or quit. You can’t coach somebody in a fixed mindset.

You don’t want anybody with a fixed mindset on your team, or your team will lose. It’s as simple as that! As the coach, you must be intentional about what you want for your team. The correct mindset is a key component of your practice culture. As the coach, you get to control any allowance of toxic behavior such as complaining or gossiping. If you want opportunity and a positive construct, you must keep a growth mindset in your practice.

You must take the time to know your team and their personalities because you’ve got to be the one to communicate with them. You’ve got to understand what makes them tick. When the coach expresses faith in a team member’s skill, it will automatically improve their mood, their motivation and their opportunity for success.

A Great Coach Encourages Success

The best coaches and leaders, in the dental world or the sports world, look for opportunities for their team members to succeed. It gives you an opportunity to give praise and recognition as well as encouragement to the team. Let me explain this in a little more detail. Every day on your dental team, instead of looking at what somebody has done wrong, look to see what they’ve done that’s good and positive.

If you focus on that, it will bring joy back to the practice and give you something positive on which to focus. Most times in your practice, doctor, you’re wearing two hats: owner and clinician – both of those roles are full-time jobs. It’s difficult at times to step away from the role of looking for problems to solve and take time to encourage and uplift.

Appreciation is a Gift that Keeps on Giving

When you see an assistant who does something as simple as holding suction the way you want, be able to say, “I appreciate the way that you worked with Mrs. Jones and me.” That compliment will make your team member glow! It’s a game-changer when you create an environment where it’s common to hear something positive coming from the doctor. Try to say something positive about everyone in the practice. You may think it’s minor, but your team members won’t.

You are the leader; when you start thinking about your practice and team members from a positive standpoint, everybody else will begin looking for those positive aspects as well. I’ve taught this technique for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a doctor tell me this wasn’t a game-changer in their personal life as well.

Can you imagine getting back home after a hard day at the office and looking for something positive done by your spouse and your children? Instead of coming home and complaining because somebody didn’t unload the dishwasher or another chore they missed, see something positive and focus on it.

The negative will take care of itself; I promise you. Owning a business can be tough. If you can always focus on the positive, it will make you a happier person. That’s one of the other goals I have for you, doctor: to be a happier person and to have joy back in your life.

The Happier, the Better

Let’s stay on the topic of happiness. The happier you are with a positive construct in your business, the more grateful you will be for all the positive things that may happen in your day, large and small. Having a positive outlook encourages clarity: you can see the silver lining in the storm clouds.

As the coach, I want you to have tremendous clarity for your team. You should be able to understand and define the roles and responsibilities in your practice. Do you know what you want to accomplish? Do you have everything you want to accomplish written down?

Stay Focused

If dentists have the mindset of being thankful when team members do the right thing, it will snowball in a good way. Take the time to focus on being the encourager and the coach. Have you ever been around other dentists when they are working? Have you noticed that most dentists don’t say “thank you”? Most doctors think, “Well, I hired you for this job, so why aren’t you doing your job?” There must be open communication. If you want to keep your team together and happy, from a leadership standpoint, you want to point out good things when people do them, and, by all means, thank people. As a basketball coach, it’s easier to see improvement if I know that somebody’s working on something because I can see a player improve right in front of my eyes.

A dentist knows when one of their assistants has improved after listening to their suggestions. Even a slight change of an angle or how they’re helping hold instruments or suction makes a huge difference.
Focus on the change. Even a slight change in the visual field of the dentist looking down at the patient is a total game-changer.
If you don’t have to move when focusing on something as small as a tooth, the angle at which an assistant holds an instrument can make a massive difference to the complexity of a case for you. Thank your assistant and say, “I appreciate your moving that,” or “Even before I asked, you knew what I needed by looking at me. We were on the same wavelength today; that was awesome.” The gratitude to say, “Thank you; that’s what I was looking for,” makes the environment so much happier for everybody. The happier you make the environment, the easier and more enjoyable it will be for your team to say, “I love working here. I love taking care of Doctor Smith’s patients.”

Gratitude is Good for Everyone

Every practice has departmental teams within the dental practice team. I want to talk more about the administrative team’s duties in your business. From an administrative team’s standpoint, the phone rings all day long. It’s more important for the scheduling coordinator to put the appointment in the correct slot than it is to fill a vacant slot.

The administrative team needs to understand the work required by the clinical team and the time it takes to complete their tasks. Many problems can be avoided by the administrative team’s filling in the correct slots. Every doctor is different, even in the same practice, and will have different preferences on how they like their schedule to flow. A new scheduling coordinator needs to understand both the general rules of scheduling for each doctor as well as the exceptions to the rules (such as emergencies). The assistants should work with the scheduler to ensure that patients are scheduled correctly according to the doctor’s preferences.

Let’s say the administrative team used their knowledge of how the doctor likes to work and how the team works in the back, and thus scheduled an emergency where it needed to be, so it flowed perfectly for the clinical team. That will make for a much better experience at work. If people aren’t on top of each other and running around like crazy, trying to make sure they’ve taken care of all the patients, the whole clinical team (not just the doctor) will appreciate that thoughtfulness.

For example, the doctor, as the head coach, can say, “Thank you. I know you had other open spots in the schedule where you could have put this patient, but you chose correctly and helped us out by choosing that appointment slot.” Something as simple as that will have a calming effect. The coach and leader’s verbally expressing that will make everybody happy.

When you can communicate with your teams and openly give them praise and encouragement, you will be surprised at how the environment changes for the better. Every person on your team will feel they are a truly valued member. So, doctor, you’ve got your administrative and your clinical teams complete with a growth mindset. Praising both teams will be crucial to your success as a coach.

As the Founder & CEO of Victory Dental Management, Lynne has over 25 years of business experience in several different industries – dentistry, medical, pharmacy, sales, transportation, logistics and project management. As a seasoned basketball coach, Lynne loves to help and encourage others.

Her passion is to help dental practices reach their full potential and increase their productivity and profitability while enabling them to deliver the best patient care and customer experience.

Lynne is also a coach, consultant, speaker and author. She is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, Speaking Consulting Network, AADOM Speaker Consultant Alliance and a lifetime member and Fellow of AADOM. She frequently contributes articles for Dental Products Report.com, DentistryIQ.com, DeW Life (Dental entrepreneur Woman), Dental Entrepreneur magazine, multiple state association newsletters, SWYP Dental, The Observer and Trojan Today. She has created online CE courses and published her first book “You Can’t Coach Quit” in 2019. Here is the link to order my book -just published today on Amazon!

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