I have done blogs on whether or not to hire a consultant for your practice, as well as how to choose one. On the other side of the coin, is the question of what kind of dentist does best with consulting.
Being coachable is a skill. But here are some traits that I have found in common – in dentists who were extremely coachable and got results, that even exceeded their goals for consulting.
Even if you already have a consulting relationship, these points will help, as even dentists who invest over a long period of time in a consultant company, may not be maximizing the relationship. People in general, not just dentists, often resist help, even help they have paid for!
1. Many dentists just want to do dentistry! And while that is understandable – after all, that is what they spent all that time and money, studying, — running a practice successfully, requires some willingness to learn how to manage and build a team. Luckily, it doesn’t take nearly as long as becoming a dentist! A few key principles make a huge difference. If, the dentist is not open to wearing the management hat at all –e.g. finds it way too stressful, then he/she puts himself at the mercy of the office manager. And will succeed in direct proportion to her ability to manage the staff. In that case, one must definitely a) find oneself an awesome Office Manager, and b) invest in her training and growth as a manager. Practice growth will be limited or assisted by her potential, so any investment in her, is of course an investment in the growth of the practice itself. A good consultant, will know how to help you hire an awesome office manager.
2. Presuming the dentist has some willingness to wear the leader/manager hat, then a big factor in getting great results from the consulting relationship – is that the dentist has faith in his/her consultant. As a result of that faith, I have found, owners are much more willing to implement suggestions that weren’t always comfortable for them. In that discomfort, they found growth occurred. E.g. that could be as simple as asking for a daily report from a staff member – something many dentists struggle with, or it could be something a little more, like conducting a 10-minute morning team meeting.
3. Communication – practice owners who provide feedback to their consultant on what developments occurred since the last consultation, will do better. An informed consultant is in a much better position to suggest ways to either build on successes or address issues that arose, that could halt the progress being made.
4.The consulting relationship, like any other relationship. is of course a relationship, which takes investing in! So letting the consultant know when the owner feels they are not quite on the same page on any issue, or on the practice direction in general, will quickly enable the consultant to resolve that, and get everything back on course.
5. Of course, the ideal client for a consultant is one who has significant growth goals. The bigger the goals, the more motivated the owner is, to accept suggestions and implement them. The growth this then leads to, makes both consultant and client very satisfied with the progress.
6. A dentist who is willing to admit that some of what it takes to reach goal will require some personal growth on his/her part, as this leads to far more promising results, than one who blames staff for everything. Some healthy introspection is an asset to the consulting relationship – which just means willing to look at what the owner can do differently. It does not require that the dentist self-criticize or label him or herself as a “bad leader”.