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Creating a Great Culture

Creating a positive culture for your dental practice or DSO begins with opening the doors to communication.

The culture of your organization is a living, dynamic phenomenon. Leadership directs the culture, but the strength of the culture is a result of the entire team’s happiness. Feeling safe is very important says dental practice culture expert Judy Kay Mausolf.  “Creating a positive culture is about opening the doors and creating open communication with the team. If the team isn't comfortable communicating with leadership, assumptions happen, and assumptions create many problems.”

 Team members feel safe when leadership:

  • Is approachable--whether it be doctors, managers, or team leads.
  • Comes from a place of care and concern, not judgment or criticism.
  • Is open to hearing concerns and feedback.
  • Listens with respect.

“I'm of the belief that we treat our team as well or better than we treat our patients,” says Mausolf. “If the team doesn't feel safe in sharing their thoughts or ideas, then you're limited to one view. You're not really utilizing all your resources.”

One way for leadership to open communication and start the culture conversation is to let the team know they, themselves, are not perfect. “Everybody's worried about how they look to everybody else,” says Mausolf. “So, it's really important that the doctors or the leadership team are vulnerable, are real to their team.”

In a safe environment, actions speak louder than words.

“Oftentimes you hear, ‘It's okay. You can make mistakes. We're here to support you.’ And then, somebody makes a mistake, and it's like, ‘Who did that?’ And then, everybody goes crazy.” Instead, there are some magic words you can say.

“You know, I'm not quite sure what happened today. Let's talk about it. Help me understand what happened.”

Those kinds of words start the conversation in an environment of safety. But body language and tone convey 93% of your energy says Mausolf. The magic words only are magic if you are calm and genuinely care. Even in a great culture, a team member may not feel entirely safe, but feeling empowered makes a difference. 

Empowerment is a big part of Judy Kay Mausolf's Culture Camps. So is teaching leaders to keep their colleagues in the loop on their decisions.

When you make that decision, though, “that decision is still yours as the leader,” Judy Kay Mausolf reminds us. “Just because they shared their point of view, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go in that direction. It's important when you do come to a conclusion that you share with the team why you decided to go this direction.” In a culture of open and positive communication, the team knows why. They’re always kept in the loop.

About this Industry Leader:

Judy Kay Mausolf - Profile Pic

Judy Kay Mausolf

Practice Management, Team Building & Communication Specialist

Judy Kay is owner and president of Practice Solutions Inc, a dental practice management coach, speaker, and author of Rise & Shine; An Evolutionary Journey to Get Out of Your Way and On Your Way to Success. With expertise in communication and team relationships, she coaches dentists and managers who want to be better leaders, motivate their teams to work together better, and ultimately grow their practice. She was President of National Speakers Association Minnesota Chapter (2012-13), and a member of the National Speakers Association, Academy of Dental Management Consultants, and Speaking Consulting Network. She is an Advanced Transformational TrainerTM. Judy Kay is a contributing author for The Progressive Dentist, Dental Economics, Dentistry IQ, AGD Impact, First Impression, Pink Tooth, and the Observer. She also publishes the monthly newsletter Show Your Shine.

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