You’ve probably traversed at least one intersection where you’re unsure how people navigate it safely.
Most of the people make it through, sometimes there’s a bump or two, and sometimes you pray for safety and then are grateful for PIP insurance.
In a figurative sense, those same intersections exist in your practice. You might not be sure how people do it. You might not be sure how to navigate through the place where your message got misunderstood, when it seemed so clear to you.
You struggle with how to maneuver through the many interpretations because what they heard seems different from your intended message. And you’re completely befuddled when you find yourself at the intersection of making your meaning match your message and aligning both with the main culture of your practice.
The point where meaning, theme and message meet up is confusing for most, and it can feel like a crazy roundabout in the road for others. There is no right or left, just circles. Some get lost in them and continue to feel misunderstood, while others keep bringing up the same issues and questions, never taking a detour toward the right direction.
This is the trickiest intersection in leadership, and more specifically in leadership communication. One way to resolve the confusion of that communication roundabout is to bring in an outside consultant who has what one might call an aerial view of the situation and players. Hiring a consultant is like having a traffic cop with extraordinary navigational tactics, along with the directions to your destination.
With their expertise you can choose to take the main route, use an alternate route, or follow that other thoroughfare that parallels the main road. Let’s examine these options more closely.
Taking the main route
The main focus of your practice is always on your patients. It’s usually the doctor who provides care and treatment, but it can also be the staff, and every team member is expected to provide exceptional service. These players are all important and may vie for top priority; however they can present logistics issues, too.
People facilitate the delivery of your culture. What type of culture do you wish to be known for in town? What kinds of feelings do you want patients and team members to experience when they drive by your location or see your ad?
A consultant can guide you to find what you’re truly after (which is what led you into business in the first place). While you focus on patients, the consultant can help discover for you the primary directive, the main direction, and the main culture you want for your business. This is more easily facilitated by someone outside of your business but who has industry experience and can help you see what you’ve been missing while you’ve been focused on treating patients.
A consultant who is experienced working with business owners can also lend guidance on crafting your message. With a focus on business building and leadership development, a skilled consultant is your guide on the side.
If you’re feeling frustration over your lack of skills in managing team members, or failing to acknowledge the amazing actions employees are taking in your office, this can add an element of stress to the messages you are inadvertently sending to patients and other team members.
Are you conveying clear messages, even unconsciously, that maintain your desired culture? If you lack clarity and are going in all directions in your day-to-day business, the answer is likely no. If that’s the case, then your staff will be going in circles in the roundabout, without a sense of direction. If confusion has reigned for a while, they’ll be wasting effort trying to keep from getting in trouble (or fired).
Much as you would use a shortcut to avoid that tricky intersection, employ a consultant to assist you with finding the appropriate words, the right amount of emotional intelligence in your leadership, and consistent actions that support your message. During times of high patient volume, increases, rapid change, or significant staffing adjustments, hiring this type of expertise takes the pressure off of you as the leader and helps align team members with the same message, a clear direction, and less stress and frustration for all parties—including your patients.
As should be clear, your ability to sustain your business depends on a strong foundation built on a clear idea of where everyone is going and how you’re going to get there. Many a leader and many a business have begun down this road, run across a shiny object or a stressful, high-traffic day, and gone off course. This deflates the enthusiasm of the team and undoes much of the efforts they put forth.
A professional consultant or executive coach provides guard rails that help you stay the course, stay in your lane and gain speed in the right direction. Their follow up keeps you accountable and on message. Their involvement, even when team members change, adds to the consistency of your efforts and actions.
The intersection of main, meaning, and message is tricky. Navigating that three-way intersection, while being a good leader and treating patients, is more than most doctors prepare for in their technical training.
A consultant is a resource and making use of one is not a sign that there is something wrong or that you don’t know what you’re doing, but rather is a sign of tremendous interest in building an even stronger practice. Much as you wouldn’t expect to know all the landmarks and back roads of a new town into which you’ve moved, even if you’re an expert driver, it’s good to have a navigator who can point out the shortcuts and get you there safely and quickly.
This is the value of a consultant in a chiropractic practice. Or, you could continue driving and never stop and ask for directions, and at some point possibly find yourself lost and frustrated with how you got there.
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership advisor who speaks and coaches professionally and owns a training firm. As CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc., she works with chiropractic practices, health care, retail, and other industry leaders to develop their skills. For more information, she can be contacted at 866-382-0121, or through contagiouscompanies.com.