Providing effective feedback to a dental team is critical to running a successful practice. Without clear communication, people can easily misunderstand or misinterpret your intentions. When you want to provide someone in your office with positive or negative feedback, you should remember that the goal is to provide that individual with constructive information to help them improve on some level.
For example, let’s say you just finished a difficult procedure that your assistant helped execute beautifully. At the end of day, you walk up to her and say, “Jane, you did an amazing job today!” She grins as you walk away, and you are so proud of yourself because you remembered to acknowledge her hard work…but what do you think she took away from that? Let’s change it around now and say, “Jane, you know that procedure we did for Ms. Smith? That went better than I thought it would, and it’s because of the way you retracted the tissue and had my field of vision absolutely clear. I could see everything because my mirror was dry, the cheek was tucked away, and your suction was in all the right places! That was perfect; please do that every time!” Which comment do you think will resonate more with Jane? Which one do you think she will remember and learn from?
Here are three steps that you can implement and easily teach your team to use daily:
- Be specific with your example! If you want to provide constructive feedback, you must be clear on what it is that you want someone to continue to do, or what it is that you want them to change or improve on.
- Let them know how their action impacted the office. You may be surprised that many people are unaware of how their words, body language, and actions impact others. It is important for you to explain to them the outcome of their actions.
- Be clear about your expectation. Let them know: If it’s good, keep it up! If it’s bad, teach them how to change.
Let’s look at an example of negative feedback. In this situation, one of the front desk staff, Lisa, keeps coming in with a messy uniform and looking completely disheveled. This is bothering you and the rest of your team.
Better way: “Lisa, I’ve noticed lately that you are coming in with your uniform wrinkled and unwashed. The way you present yourself represents me, this team, and our office. I need you to come to work in a clean uniform, looking fresh and ready to go.”
In the second example, I was very specific with what I found to be a problem, how it was impacting the office, and my expectation of Lisa. It is never easy to give negative feedback; however, if you keep it professional and not personal, it’s easier to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Let’s face it: Being a leader is difficult at times. Communication is key, and what I suggested above is simple, but you have to practice it and get your team to practice with you. Try it, not just at the office but anywhere. The more you practice simple and clear communication, the easier it becomes to convey your message and your intention. It grows relationships based upon understanding, which in turn will surround you with people who truly understand you.