So I'm dentist, which is a very differnt category than traditional business setups. Its me (owner), and 4 staff. I would like to build a stronger relationship with everyone, but I'm not sure 1 on 1s is gonna help. 


Instead of a traditional manager and directs relationship, I work along side my staff more than I manage them. They don't really report to me like I've experienced in the business world. 

The other issue is that I am responsible for 2/3rds of the office's production. We make money by me being busy, not delegating. 

Am I looking at 1 on 1s all wrong? 


I've been using the feedback model for a few weeks and I'm very happy with the response. Hoping to unroll coaching in the spring. Anyone think I should still insititue 1 on 1s?

G3's picture

I've written two or three drafts in reply to your question. Then I came across this from the MT folks, 

" "One on Ones are the most important Manager Tool there is, and starting to do them is the single best use of any manager's time." Horstman's Law of Organizational Communication is at work here: say something seven times and half your folks will have heard it once. We will never get tired of saying this. One on Ones are the best thing managers can do. Period."

What if I only floss my teeth and use mouth wash. And I never go to the dentist? Maybe doing 1 on 1's is like going to the dentist. Some people love to go. Some don't mind. Other's do not like to go. But, everyone who does it benefits from better health.

The most effective way to use the trinity (one on one's, feedback, coaching) is to use it. And it's all designed to go together. One on One's are the starting point.

You might want to consder backing off feedback and coaching. Start with the rollout. Here's a place to start:

You know what results you get from not using the trininty. You've seen evidence of the effectiveness of the other tools/techniques. Why not give it a go (all the way, all three tools) and see what that brings? Worst case scenario, I imagine, is that you slough off on the meetings but end up learning a little more about your staff. And life is all about People, so that's good.

The point of 1 on 1's is not delegation. The point of 1 on 1's is getting to know people thereby building better relationships and finally getting better results. Delegating is the fourth silent addition to the trinity.


williamelledgepe's picture
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You asked 3 questions ...

What if I don't think I need 1 on 1s?  - Then don't do them.  It's your business.  You could also try them for 3 months and see what you think.

Am I looking at 1 on 1s all wrong? - Yes - O3s are not about you; they're about the direct.  

Anyone think I should still insititue 1 on 1s? - Yes

The first 15 minutes of the O3 is time for them to talk abotu whatever they want to talk about - that is how you build a positive, professional relationship.  You said "you want to build a stronger relationship - but you're not sure O3s are going to help" - they will.  There are other ways - sure - but O3s are mighty effective - and you don;t need to spend hours trying to find another solution.  In your case - do one O3 at the end of each weekday (except Friday) - that way you keep moving from patient to patient and keep your billings up.  If you can't bill make the money - none of this other stuff matters anyway (revenue and profit are like oxygen - they are not the purpose of life, but without them life doesn't offer much.).

Let me give you an example: Let's say one of your staff have an idea for how to simplify your billing process - maybe they have an idea to automate billing or they may suggest a different waiting room setup so you could have a larger queue to keep you busy despite tardy patients - who knows - I'm making examples up.  It is possible (though you'll say its not) that your employee with this great idea and isn't speaking up because their previous boss chastised them for speaking up.  The regular O3 with them setting the agenda shows them you are willing to listen.  After you prove through your behavior that you are willing to listen - they will speak up.  This is just an example.  The real point of the matter: they need a forum to express their thoughts, opinions, feelings - one an individual basis - with the person responsible for their paycheck - so they can feel safe about their ability to supply their addiction to food, shelter, and clothing.  You achive that base level and all kinds of other things open up.  

Regarding you working along side your staff more than managing them - I'm sure this is true - but you are still their boss - you can fire them if you want.  When you introduce yourself you might say we work together - but they refer to you as their boss.  

One other thought about delegation - there are things you are not allowed to delegate per your license to practice dentistry - drilling inside someone's mouth (maybe a bad example - not a dentist - don't know).  There are things you have already delegated (cleanings, x-rays - again maybe a bad example I only know my side of the chair).   You might not be able to delegate the medical aspect of your job.  I don't know if you have to place a temporary crown or if a dental assisstant can do that.  Multiply that by 1000 other things you do to people's mouths and maybe there are some things your staff can so - maybe they need more training - maybe not.  But there are other things you might be doing that you can delegate.  Are you responsible for P&L - or do you have an office manager?  Who does your advertising?  Who decides which mailers you'll pay for?  What about billing codes?  I heard a while back about a doctor who increased the revenue by a sizeable margin, by having their billing person attend an insurance training session on insurance billing codes.  Didn't change the procedures they were performing - just the codes they were using - and markedly increased revenues - legally I might also say.  Who is responsble for petty cash?  Who does your books?  As small as your office is, I assume you are doing many of these thing yourself after hours.  Instead of staying up late one night to figure out if your last mailer brought in new customers - delegate that with a bonus for performance - then you can use that evening time to performt he medical procedures only you can do.  (Quick plug for evening cleanings - if you're in the NOVA area and you offer evening/weekend cleanings - you're my new dentist).