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Dentists are having to provide clear leadership like never before. The situation around COVID-19 is rapidly changing and that’s prompting dentists and industry leaders to take on a role they never expected: crisis management.

 


Fortunately, there is help. Judy Kay Mausolf is a dental practice culture expert and the founder of Dental Practice Solutions Inc. She has built her reputation around coaching dentists to become strong leaders and communicators. 

In this 20-minute video with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, Judy Kay shares action steps that dentists can be taking now and in the months ahead to effectively communicate during the coronavirus pandemic and the economic repercussions it’s caused.

 

Communicate Facts vs Fear

It’s vital to remain calm and not panic as dentists navigate how to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

First, talk to your team and let them know you’re in this together. Many dentists are understandably scared about what’s going to happen to their practice and to the people who depend on them for a paycheck. But in front of their team, it’s important to project calm leadership and reassurance.

Instead of sharing your fears, ask them about their fears. Most likely it will be about how they can get paid if the office closes or reduces hours. Let them know that you’re talking to your accountant and to your bank and that you’re exploring options. 

Second, focus on facts. Remind your team that the goal is to stop the spread of the virus and that they are already good at taking protective measures. Dentists and dental teams know how to wash their hands, correctly use personal protective equipment, and prevent the spread of infection. You do it every day.

When people panic, their emotions can overrule common sense. In the video, Judy Kay Mausolf gives specific examples of what dentists can say to their teams to effectively communicate the situation. 

 

Plan for Different Scenarios

Crisis management means having a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C.  Dentists should take the time to list out their strategy for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak now and in the future. Since this is a virus, it will likely impact people’s health for several months to come. Map out a plan for seeing fewer patients this month, as well as longer periods of time. What number do you need to hit to cover your fixed expenses? That’s a good place to start.

 

Create a Message of Hope

Judy Kay has incredible phrasing that you can use with your team during this time. Reassure them that you’re invested in them. If you need to reduce pay, let them know that it’s not job performance-related. Research whether it makes more sense to keep them on the payroll at a reduced rate, or if they will receive more financial assistance if they file for unemployment. 

Most importantly, remind them that this is temporary. No one knows exactly what will happen. But at some point, people will need to go to the dentist again. Reassure your team that if they stick by you while times are tough, you’ll stick by them when times are good again. 

 

Make Good Use of Your Time

People feel better when they have a plan. Judy Kay Mausolf recommends using this period when your dental practice is slow to:

  • Review systems
  • Write down and share observations on every part of the patient experience from the initial phone call through the check-in process, consultation, payment discussion, treatment and check-out process. 
  • Identify where patients feel unwelcome or uncomfortable or unsafe
  • Create a plan to fix those areas that need tweaking

 

Provide Strong Leadership to your Dental Team. Dentists need to provide strong, consistent leadership now more than ever. 

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