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Lessons from “Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager”

By July 27, 2015January 21st, 2022Michael's Operatory, Practice Management

My cousin recommended that I read this book called “Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager“. He said I needed to read it. So I bought it on Kindle for $10 and dug in. Indeed, it’s a great book with an interesting perspective on things (both at home and in the office). So here are some key takeaways for any and every dentist. I also recommend you buy the book to have it handy:

  1. Talent Acquisition. You need to invest in finding, retaining and developing the right team. Without one, you can’t achieve as much as you otherwise could. Team comes first, then strategy, then performance. Now, importantly, you should always be on the hunt for talent. I call it “talent acquisition”.   You should be where they are, write where they read, speak where they listen, and attract them using offerings which they are interested in. The author of this book suggests using 4 hiring tools: situational interviews, job simulations, realistic job previews, and patterned behavioural description interviews. Interestingly enough, we at DMC LLP typically recommend that employers conduct personality tests (we like DISC) to judge whether someone will be a good fit in the workplace. For example: a dentist employer should be looking for someone who is a social butterfly (from a personality perspective) if you’re looking for a new hygienist. That would be a strong “I” in the DISC personality profile (for “Influencer”). And you’d be looking for a detail-oriented and high structured individual to do recalls. This is likely a “C” in the DISC personality profile (for “Conscientious”).
  2. Invest in Your Team. This is something we do at DMC LLP. We have a grandiose vision of who we are and what we want to be. Then we set individual and team goals (10 each). Our goals are always SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and based on a timeline). And we write them down and hold ourselves and each other accountable. And you know what: we are pretty darn good about achieving the goals that we set for ourselves. As I also discussed in my review of other books (“Good Boss, Bad Boss“), you need to focus on: performance (empowering employees) and humanity (respect, dignity). One thing that I liked about this book (“Becoming the Evidenced Based Manager”) was that it encouraged dissent. It kept the lines of communication open and honest. And it could be dealing with things as large as the strategic direction of the company to how things are ordered in the office.
  3. Making Team Leaders out of Team Members. While I was reading the third chapter of “Becoming the Evidenced Based Manager”, I couldn’t help but think: this is all about the roles and responsibilities of team leaders and team members. But the relationship and goal of those two is always the same: to make team leaders out of team members. This is how an organization grows and has succession planning addressed at all times. So with that in mind, team leaders are those at the top of the organization who set and maintain the culture, develop the vision, place the boundaries on what the organization does / won’t do, attract and maintain talent, empower their team members (which includes allowing them to make mistakes), treating team members with humanity, and encouraging mistakes.    For their part, team members are learning how to do their job, being courageous enough to make mistakes but learn not to repeat them, adhering to the corporate culture, raising their voice if they have concerns about the vision or performance of the organization, and develop the knowledge, skills and experiences to eventually become team leaders. They learn primarily by watching.
  4. Motivating Your Team. This is a tough one. I learned early on that many employees are not motivated by money. I kept questioning it.   The book talks about this idea too. The true answer is this: most people would prefer a functional, comfortable, and rewarding work environment where they are performing at an optimal level and treated with dignity than simply collecting a pay check for doing work in an agonizing work environment which they dread going to. They want to feel as if they are contributing; being used to their full potential. They want to feel empowered and respected. They want to feel as thought they are growing into a role and coming to realize what that role in society is. So does throwing more money at an employee motivate them? I don’t necessarily think so. Money is simply a ways of trading one’s time or results in exchange for a currency to live. Money can be used to appreciate someone. But at what expense? I think the best way to motivate your team is not to simply throw money at them, but to help them achieve their personal goals. This is how you develop loyalty and motivate your team members to “own your practice as you own them”. Not all of their goals are money based. And what I’ve found is that many people have the same goals: spend time with family, go on a vacation, give back (do some good!), buy a new car or house, learn a new skill (e.g. language, cooking, etc.). And if you tell your team member that you want to know what their top 10 goals are and that you will help them achieve some of their goals (in exchange for them helping you to achieve the organization’s goals), then you will have highly motivated team members. The individual and collective interests will be aligned! Now, going back to the book, it talks about all of this, just in a different manner – namely: attending to employee’s needs (e.g. physiological, security, work environment) and make sure they have SMART goals.   The cherry on top for me is the idea the book presents about “avoiding demotivation” by avoiding perceived lack of justice and by not breaching an unspoken agreement on expectations.
  5. Being Resilient. All organizations have highs and lows. Setbacks are a fact of life; but giving up doesn’t have to be. During the low times, you need a ‘can do’ attitude, build optimism, look for role models, dedicate resources, and re-examine your SMART GOALS (they made need to shift in priority). Finally, you need to learn that sometimes things are outside of your control. You can try to manage macro (e.g. the economy, interest rates, insurance cutbacks, etc.) and micro issues (e.g. staff leaving because of pregnancy, moving to another city, etc.). But here’s the reality: you can’t manage everything but your attitude and resources.
  6. Hold Your Team Accountable. I’m not a fan of performance appraisals. I like the 15-30 minute ‘let’s chat about stuff’. You can learn so much by simply asking: tell me something that’s going really well and something we can improve. Listening is so important. But what about giving feedback. Well, you’ve heard the adage: for each and every constructive criticism you give, you need to FIRST provide two (2) areas of praise. So what does the author suggest? A few things, actually, including: be fair in your appraisals, get feedback about an employee from multiple sources, and coach your employee (don’t just appraise them).

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. For me, it reinforces a lot of things I learned on my own as a small business owner. And I’m sure it can definitely help you out in your practice. I barely scratched the surface with all the interesting concepts and examples contained in the book. Do yourself a favour: spend the $10 and get the book. A few simple ideas might make your practice firing on all cylinders in no time.