Dentists love their private offices. They retreat from the world in them. They are often plush, often messy, but almost always a retreat. I never had an office. I don’t believe you should either. Wiki. Answers says that the antonym of retreat is advance. That’s what you want, advance. Advance your practice, advance your skills, advance your leadership, and advance your business.
Above all a private office is wasted space, non productive, a gatherer of clutter, a bastion of debris and fragments, flotsam and jetsam. You say you need a place to get away from it all? If you do then you are overstress, overworked or in the wrong profession. Don’t retreat from your business; change something so that you enjoy it. Remember the over used phrase, (but still very applicable), “Work smarter, not harder”. You need to be out with your employees and patients, observing, interacting, managing, and leading. What does it say to your employees when you run to your office after each patient? It says you don’t want to be with them, it says that it’s more important to you to be in your office alone with your cup of coffee than to talk to them. It tells them that you aren’t around to watch over processes and systems. I don’t believe that people need to be policed at all times, but I do believe that no one cares as much about your practice as you do. If you aren’t there to watch how things are going, if you’re not there to be seen by employees and patients enjoying your surroundings, how will you ever know if a system isn’t working? If you don’t care, will your employees care? I don’t think so. Retreating to a private office starts a cycle of laissez faire management which quickly spirals out of control. You need to be present to be an effective leader, an effective manager.
So what should you do? Ditch the office, clean it out, redo it to serve as that productive space that you need so badly. If you don’t have an office you won’t be tempted to retreat there. Then, after you get rid of your office, start MBWA. That’s Tom Peter’s acronym for “Managing by Wandering Around”, I call it, “Managing by Walking Around”. During your free time you start to walk around your office. You greet your patients personally as they walk in the door, you smile and nod at the patients in the reception area, (remember, you don’t have a “waiting room”, no one should be waiting, you should be taking them on time.), you will see that patient who came early and is anxiously awaiting their appointment, you can personally tell them, “We’ll be ready for you in just a few minutes Mrs. Smith, Janet is getting your room ready”. Patients love that you know who they are and that you addressed them by name in front of other patients. It’s a great practice building, patient relationship tool.
You’ll be surprised at how you’ll walk in on employee discussions. It will defuse some; it will give you the opportunity to address others. People will be more productive. If you are energetic and enthused about your practice, they will be too. There won’t be a place for an employee to “hide out”, and avoid unpleasant tasks. MBWA is productive and meaningful in all aspects. So remember, advance, don’t retreat, moving around your practice helps you move your business upward. Try it; you’ll be amazed at the results.
Here is a short video of how Tom Peters discovered MBWA. Tom Peters, the origins of MBWA