How to Gain Clarity in an Unclear Time

With the right tools, dental practice leaders can overcome business-related challenges and achieve success.

By Jenna Hughes

Dental organization leaders plan, strategize, and organize dental offices to the best of their ability to run a smooth and successful business. Many industry leaders have experienced firsthand that a business strategy and plan can be devised, but even the most thorough plan is subject to the external environment. Inevitably, a dental practice will face unexpected challenges that make running an organization more difficult. It is key for business leaders to remain confident in themselves and encourage their teams to remain positive when hurdles arise.

Learning how to manage a business through uncertain times allows dental practices to organize, comprehend, and evaluate the overall operations of an organization. Assessing how to grow a business, think strategically, and determine what work needs more focus leads to better overall outcomes for a practice’s patients and business.

Examples of uncertainty that specifically impacted dental organizations were the recent inflationary pressures, workforce shortages and supply chain disruptions. Many dental practices’ short-term and long-term goals, as well as financial forecasts, were completely upended. Not to mention their staffing models. For many organizations, it was necessary to develop new strategies to stand out among industry competitors.

So, how can dental practices gain clarity during uncertainty?

Reassessing business strategy in the face of challenges

The first place that dental leaders can begin to have leverage within an organization in an unclear time is by considering their own impact on the organization. Starting the process of clarity within a business by evaluating oneself is difficult, but it allows leaders to gain further understanding of the goals that need to be achieved personally before guiding teams. The process of individual introspection as a leader exposes who an individual is and how they operate under uncertain circumstances. This self-administered evaluation of performance can allow a leader a new perspective and lead to overall business transformation. 

Everyone reacts differently to workplace stressors. Some individuals react with frustration or anxiety in uncertain situations. As an entrepreneur, it is important to focus on reducing any anxiety related to business uncertainty and to focus on regaining confidence. Staff look to leaders for guidance in times of uncertainty, and if a leader does not recognize their impact, they can negatively impact their team.

Leaders must determine how quickly and how often they are able to get back to confidence in the face of challenges. They must constantly work toward improving their game. A successful leader determines how they can improve and make changes at the ideal speed so that they are able to stay at a high level of confidence.

Vision and team

There is no doubt that the dental industry faced many operational challenges because of inflationary pressures, workforce shortages and supply chain disruptions. Business challenges, while at times overwhelming for an organization, ultimately foster learning. Overcoming a workplace challenge helps individual employees and the team experience personal development and growth. After a challenge is navigated and solutions are developed, staff will know how to address them as a team and be adequately prepared to create new strategies in the future.

After the leadership team rebuilds its confidence, the next step is for them to focus on guiding teams to success. In uncertainty, successful dental leaders reevaluate and reinvent a new vision for the company to fit new circumstances. 

To reimagine the company vision, teams must consider the original company mission. The process of reevaluating the company’s goals allows space to reset and reconsider what needs to be accomplished. Once a leader and the dental team reconsider the overall goals of the practice, there is opportunity for leverage.

In uncertainty, teams must move from chaos to momentum. A large part of momentum is rebuilding teams and making decisions. Starting the journey of clarity and progress begins with determining what your teams need to work toward and having clear, outlined goals that can be accomplished. 

So, what does momentum look like and how do you get there? To achieve team momentum, leaders must connect with each member on a team and check-in on the progress that is being made toward goals.

As a leader gets further into the strategic arena they must document, organize, and prioritize the goals to work toward that fall within the company vision. This ensures that teams are prioritizing the work that will allow the business to have clarity when working through uncertainty.

Fragile to unshakeable

A successful leader strives for employees to learn from the experience of each challenge. The next step toward clarity in uncertain situations is to move a business from being fragile to unshakeable. Unshakeable is defined as a clear roadmap of procedures in the face of challenges and knowledge of how to regain company-wide confidence no matter what challenges may arise.

One example of a way that businesses can become unshakeable is through the introduction of technological advances, so that an organization can streamline its processes and depend less on repetitive tasks.

Another way is to change seats on the bus or allow for movement throughout the different positions within the company. Every time a problem is faced within a dental practice that leads to uncertainty, people have a chance to grow from the experience. 

Challenging scenarios create the best strategic plans for a company because each team knows what they need to accomplish to get to the common goal of business stability. As a business grows into prosperity, inevitably there will be uncertainty along the way. However, if leaders focus on the fundamental vision and overall business goals, leaders can move organizations from being fragile to unshakeable. The next time a challenge is faced going forward, employees and leadership teams will know exactly how to tackle it.