“Unprecedented” is a word I have heard more times in the last three weeks than ever before, but it is apt and accurate – these truly are unprecedented times. Never in our lifetimes have we faced such draconian measures limiting our personal freedom and it is at these moments that true leadership needs to come to the fore. Dentists need to find ways that will impact their teams by retaining a positive practice culture, despite the challenges we face.
Dental teams, like all other employees, need protection, both mentally and physically at this time, as they face uncertainty and insecurity about the future, for them and their families. For everyone, having travel and basic freedoms curtailed is difficult to manage, but for some, particularly those who live alone, this can be catastrophic. Uncertainty can manifest itself in different ways and what may seem like small issues for some, can appear as insurmountable mountains for those in a delicate mental state.
Silence sometimes is golden, but not now
Keeping in regular contact with your team is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to safeguard your team. There are numerous ways in which technology can help business owners keep in touch; Microsoft Teams and Zoom are a couple of the most popular, but there are many more. One-to-one contact is particularly valuable to ensure that team members do not feel abandoned and isolated. Remember, this is a very worrying time and the mental health of each individual should be protected as far as possible.
When you do have meetings, these must be optional for furloughed staff, but are a good opportunity to explain the current situation and empathise with the personal impact that each individual may be suffering. Listen to their fears and concerns and be as ‘human’ as you possibly can.
We realise that it’s difficult to give people certainty about when life and work will return to normal, but it’s important as a leader to convince your team that you have a plan. It may be that your plan will change and be refined according to external factors but having a plan and letting your team know this will give them some reassurance.
A new word for the dictionary
There can be few people who are not by now familiar with the term “furlough”.
The decision to close practices and furlough team members is likely to have been a very difficult and emotional decision, particularly for those dentists who may have spent a good part of their lives developing their businesses. However, I would like to suggest that furloughing should be seen as a positive step, designed to protect the long-term future of dental practices and this is what should be communicated to team members.
Let’s be clear, furloughing is NOT redundancy. In fact, it is specifically aimed at avoiding this outcome, allowing businesses time to ‘hibernate’ by covering one of the most expensive overheads of a business – its staff.
An important condition of furloughed staff is that they cannot work for the business in any capacity whilst on the scheme. However, staff can be encouraged to ‘upskill’ by undertaking personal CPD or by accessing online training. We are offering dental software training via our Academy of Excellence, which is being provided free of charge during ‘Lockdown’, to help with staff training and we are also organising a series of online webinars, which will take place regularly in the coming weeks.
The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in ways we never could have imagined, even a month ago. To emerge stronger from the challenge we need to work together, and as a leading dental software specialist we are committed to helping dentists survive the present and prepare for the future. Taking your team with you at this time is more important than ever before, as with their help, knowledge, experience and loyalty you can Bounce Back quickly and return to normal, stronger than ever.
Software of Excellence is offering Bounce Back reviews to help dentists prepare for reopening their practices. To book, visit https://softwareofexcellence.co.uk/bounceback/ and complete the form.