Recently, a compelling article from Harvard Business Review caught my attention. It discussed how business leaders can profoundly impact employee anxiety and stress levels. Read on about how you can manage stress in dentistry.
Most business owners are driven by ambition and a relentless drive to grow. Dental practice owners are no different – they want to bring in more patients and constantly strive to expand their competitive and market footprint.
However, you must acknowledge that dental practices are only as strong as the people that work there. You should ask yourself whether this drive to grow your practice is taking its toll on your employees.
And here’s the most unfortunate part…
Most of the time, business leaders aren’t even aware that their behavior is compromising the mental and emotional wellbeing of their employees. They often operate with a false belief that their leadership has no flaws, without realizing their leadership style may be the biggest factor contributing to rising employee anxiety and plummeting productivity.
Are you one of them?
Read on to learn about five signs to help you manage stress in dentistry…
1. Negative language
Such is the power of the spoken word that it can lift you up or cut you off at the knees.
Research has drawn a direct correlation between the words we choose to express ourselves and the listeners’ feelings and level of stress. The impact is compounded when negative words are spoken or written by someone with a position of authority such as a CEO or a dentist.
The tricky part is it is easy to ignore or forget the implications of negative language because you may think that you’re conveying your message with a neutral voice. But you may end up deflating your team.
The key is to actively monitor your language and use words (or phrases) with a reassuring and positive connotation e.g. “hope,” “faith,” or “we’ll make it,” instead of “terrible,” “problematic,” or “undesirable.” And considering the psychological and economic impact of the Coronavirus crisis, words of encouragement will go a long way in raising your team’s morale.
2. Unusual or erratic actions
Although surprises can turn out to be pleasant, people crave certainty and structure. The moment people face an unpredictable outcome, it compromises their thinking process and raises anxiety and stress levels.
Shock and awe are meant for the battlefield, not the office. As a leader, you must endeavor to remove or reduce confusion. Let each of your team members know exactly what is expected of them, provide guidance where necessary, and assure them that you’re available to talk things through.
Lastly, keep group meetings efficient by avoiding needlessly prolonging them. Take your cue from the very best – apart from their business acumen, figures such as Jobs, Bezos, and Branson are famous for their hatred of long meetings.
3. Emotional unpredictability
Dealing with uncertainty is a key component of your job as a practice owner. When times are tough, your team will expect you to take the lead and not have an emotional meltdown. Avoid reactive behavior.
You must consciously strive to keep your emotions in check and maintain composure – even (or especially!) in times such as these. Giving in to pressure is the easiest way to send your team into an emotional tailspin. The calmer you are, the easier it will be for your employees to manage stress and focus on the task at hand.
Now, it may be that you are naturally wired to “ride your emotions.” If that’s the case you can take some measures to reel in your anxiety and emotions. Research has shown that regular physical activity and mindfulness sessions can help you stay and achieve emotional stability.
Lastly, be willing to listen to what your team members think of your behavior. If they find it hard to communicate with you or generally feel reluctant to be around you, there’s a good chance that it’s because of your behavior.
4. Excessive pessimism
We can consider pessimism as somewhat of a natural mechanism to anticipate problems and to prevent making something bad, worse. It also works as an effective reality check that helps business leaders differentiate between viable risks and utter foolishness.
However, you must wield pessimism with caution, especially in trying times such as these, because it can exacerbate an already stressful situation and leave you with anxious employees and shaken confidence. That is not to say that you should deny reality and paint overly rosy pictures – the idea is to let your team know that although times are hard, the business will survive and emerge stronger.
Even if you find little to cheer for, you must not lose composure. Your calm approach will profoundly affect your team’s ability to focus and perform under pressure, thereby helping your practice survive the worst of crises.
5. Ignoring your team’s emotions
Turning a blind eye towards how your team feels is likely the biggest contributing factor to anxious employees. This can happen while you are trying to get your own emotions in order.
While you must monitor your anxiety, make sure it’s not obvious to your team. Because if they perceive you as an emotional train wreck, they will lose faith in your ability to lead. This will inevitably add to their stress while impacting overall productivity and your bottom line.
The key to maintaining this balance is honest consideration – you must put yourself in their shoes and develop an understanding of how they are processing events. The emotional insight will greatly help you in influencing their emotions and refocusing their energy on what matters the most for your practice.
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to communicate often and to utilize one-on-one meetings while encouraging employees to share their emotional state without the fear of being judged negatively.
Essentially, you must acknowledge that your actions and attitude directly impact your team members’ stress levels and affect the way they handle pressure. If you’re willing to put in the work to improve your emotional intelligence, you will see a clear improvement in your team’s productivity.
I’d like to invite you to download our FREE eBook – The Roadmap to Practice Recovery. It lays out guidance and resources on how to take your practice productivity back to pre-lockdown levels – including managing your team.
Chime in with your thoughts and comments. We’d love to hear what measures you have taken and how you plan to lead your practice into the post-COVID landscape.