One of my clients is opening her new office this week and we’ve been spending time training on dental insurance matters. On our last call I had to give her what I think is hard advice for a new owner/manager to hear: you don’t have to be close friends with everyone you work with. In fact, it makes your job harder as a manager or owner if you cross that familiarity line. You’re trying to motivate them to do their job but they want to talk about how crazy Friday night was. There is a level of professionalism that you must own and show if you are to lead a team. Leading by example is not just a cliche but a necessity in any office. Employees deserve guidelines and they deserve motivators. They’re not entitled to a party buddy or a confidante.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think the new dentist was going to go out and hang all night with her staff. She’s a pretty smart cookie. But when you work in a small office and you see your team more often than you see your family sometimes it is hard to not share personal information. When you’re having a rough day it’s hard to not share your frustration with your team. But the devil is in the details. Can you share personal information? Sure – but not too much and not so often. You’re having a bad day? Fine – you don’t need to tell them it’s because your wife is killing your credit card. Privacy is hard to maintain but as a manager and employer, you need to keep an arm’s length. Be friends with your team – but always remember you’re the business owner/manager. Your duty is to the health and success of the practice.
This is a learning curve for most owners/managers. If this has happened to you, rest assured that you’re in good company. Most managers have had this struggle. Hopefully you can remember this post during your career and think…’that was good advice’ rather than ‘I know what she means.’