Managing a well-managed team
By Tanya Bailey
Successful teams thrive when everyone on the team shares the same vision, work ethic, and commitment to one another. Conflict is a natural part of working together. How conflict is handled impacts the current and future culture of the practice.
It’s a normal day in the office, production is great, a patient just accepted a big case, but there is something nagging at you in the back of your mind. A key team member continues to show up late to work disrupting your morning meeting. You have not said anything about it because you thought it was just an exception but it has happened three times now. You want to ignore it or pretend you didn’t just see it. Then your next thought is you hope it blows over and she does not do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and then she shows up late again. Now you have a choice to make. Either continue to ignore the behavior and send the message to the rest of the team that behavior like this is acceptable, or address the behavior with the team member and send the correct message to the rest of the team. You know the right thing to do, but doing the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing to do!
When a team member has an issue, the problem can quickly spiral out of control. It is crucial to step up your leadership and deal with the problem directly and as quickly as possible. Any delay only amplifies the behavior. In fact, by doing nothing the perception is that the behavior is acceptable.
Team leaders must engage everyone on the team to create consistent, predictable, reliable results. Staying on purpose and dealing with conflict takes planning.
The Natural Law of Systems states that 94% of success is in the system so what’s your system for confronting behavior and not the person?
Here are some steps to create a positive environment for confronting behavior.
Get a G.R.I.P. before you begin.
G – Go in the Green; Wait if you’re Red. Make sure you are in a good mental state before speaking with your team member. The best results come when you are able to be calm, rational and level headed. It is difficult to positively confront negative behavior when you are in a negative emotional state (red). Take control of your emotions proceed when you are in a positive emotional state (green) and can stay in control of what you say and how you say it.
R – Relationship First. Prepare to only say things that will build the relationship. Strive to be encouraging, building, helpful and humble.
I – In Private. Always praise in public and correct in private. Go to the team member directly and set up a time to meet in private and discuss the issue.
P – Professionalism First. Plan to address the issue at hand to improve the situation. Resist the urge to criticize, condemn, or complain. Your job is to be one hundred percent clear on the vision.
Once you have a “G.R.I.P.” then you can proceed with a “S.M.I.L.E.”
S – State the emotion you are feeling. Always lead with “I” statements and avoid criticizing or passing judgment on a personal level. “I felt disappointed when we had started the meeting and you walked in 15 minutes late.”
M – Mention the observed behavior. Present facts and evidence and stay fact focused rather than personality focused. Be specific when recalling the situation and when describing the behavior. Acknowledge the impact of the behavior on you and use verbatim quotes and focus on a single message. Never assume, use accusations or pass along vague feedback from others. “In looking at meeting attendance over the last week, this was the third time you came in late after the meeting had started.”
I – Invite feedback. Ask for clarification and see things from the team member’s point of view. Most team conflicts are rooted in communication breakdown. Be an example for how to listen attentively first and then express thoughts and beliefs. Always show respect for the other person and their point of view. “What can you do differently to be in attendance at meetings on a timely basis?”
L – Lift with affirmation. Express your confidence in the team member and their ability to perform correctly. “I appreciate your making the commitment when you were hired to be in attendance at all team meetings and you have always shown that you are the type of person who follows through on commitments. ”
E – End with a request for commitment. Restate the commitment to the solution and make sure the team member leaves the situation feeling validated and respected. “Will you be present at the at the appointed time from now on for our meetings?” “Thank you for your commitment.”
As you can see from the steps above, confronting behavior stays focused on what the person is doing that needs to be corrected. By confronting behavior, it gives the other person the opportunity to make changes for the better without feeling like he or she is being personally attacked. As the leader your job is to address any behavior that is not congruent with the commitments you and your team have made to each other. Having a system to do it does not solve all your problems, but it does give you a track to run on and direction to know what to say and how to say it.
Tanya Bailey has been a Practice Advisor with Total Patient Service Institute since 2008. She has helped practices all over the country achieve their desired organizational culture as well as well as their production and financial goals. Her passion is helping dentists create and live their vivid vision and realize the success they deserve. Tanya and her husband Mike live in Forney, TX with their children. When she’s not traveling to visit practices, she loves exploring other areas in and out of the United States.