Effective Strategies for Managing Transition in Your Dental Practice (Part 2)

July 1, 2024 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

By Edwin “Mac” McDonald DDS  

Effective management during transitions directly impacts overall success. By implementing these strategies, you’ll lead your dental practice through change more smoothly. In Part 1 of this series, I described Phase One: The Ending Zone, the time during which your team is feeling the loss of the familiar and coping with uncertainty. In Part 1, I also listed communication strategies to help them cope. Let’s look at what is likely to happen as you and your team continue to transition through change. 

Phase Two: The Neutral Zone 

During this transition phase known as the “Neutral Zone” or “Chaos Zone,” team members grapple with the loss of the old ways and the unfamiliarity of the new. Competency levels vary, and individuals may feel consciously incompetent or consciously competent. What do I mean by that? 

Some may feel they now know what they didn’t about the change and understand the value of it. They are ready to navigate the change emotionally. Others may feel they are starting to “get it” and deal with it. And others have become champions of the change and model confident competence in making the transition. Others will still experience confusion, stress, doubt or skepticism. This is when leaders need to step up and put on an encourager and coaching hat. 

Strategies for Managing this Phase 

  • Discuss Strengths Utilizations: Encourage team members to identify how the change allows them to use their strengths differently and explore new opportunities. 
  • Open Conversations: Lead them in conversation and empower them to create solutions as issues of the transition arise. Foster teamwork and purpose as you converse with them, so they feel vital to the practice. Encourage them to talk among themselves and lean on one another as a team because you want to retain that team. Express your appreciation for them navigating and embracing the change. You can take them outside of the office for a social meal that does not feel formal and they can feel connected even outside the office.  
  • Provide Support: They will feel the need for information in order to feel secure. Ensure communication networks are open. Bringing in a transitions coach helps. Consider what HR resources you can make available to support individuals during this challenging phase. 

Remember, effective management during transitions directly impacts overall success. By implementing these strategies, you’ll lead your dental practice through change more smoothly. 

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About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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