Purging Your Practice of the Blame Game, Up- and Down-Stream

“Blame has no purpose, and it is a lousy teacher.”

– John Yokoyama


As a leader and Dentrepreneur®, you know a scalable business only works when it has the right culture. And you know you can’t dictate culture with good thoughts alone. Rather than think about the things you need to add, let’s think about some of things we need to take away. What are some of the toxins you have to purge from your environment?

One of the deadliest roadblocks to building a scalable care-centered practice, top to bottom, is the blame game. I’m not talking about a leadership trait here, but an unconscious fixation on weakness when things go wrong.

As the leader of your team, the blame game probably means very little to you. You already know that any failure is always your fault in some way or another. Everything about everything is technically your responsibility, whether you had a hand in it or not.

But for those lower on the totem pole—those team members you want to be empowered leaders in their own right—how do you cleanse them of the fixation on assigning blame?

It’s natural to be preoccupied with rooting out the cause of a snafu. The need to understand what went wrong is natural to understanding the nature of a problem. Understanding why is even better. Putting blame on one or two specific people, however, never does any good, unless you’re on a reality show and need to vote someone off the island.

But building a culture of empowerment and creativity is not a reality show. You know this already—but leaders often take for granted that our people don’t.

Empowering Staff to Look Beyond Blame

By the very nature of being lower on the totem pole, there is a Survivor-esque quality to your mindset. The less senior the staff the more this is true. Even if no one is obviously calling others out for being at fault, the preoccupation with blame is going to be there. They are usually unaware of it, in fact.

“Who messed up? Was it me? No? Okay then, I can relax!”

Sound familiar? Do you see how dangerous that kind of thinking can be? If you personally are not at fault for something bad happening, it gives you license to not care. Unfortunately, that’s often how downstream staff approach an office failure. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t been empowered to care.

As their leader, you probably couldn’t care less about who to blame, as much as you care about what to change so it doesn’t happen again. The key is transferring that mindset to your whole team.

How to Change It

Sharing in triumphs and sharing in tragedy are crucial to building a scalable culture. Team ownership of everything that happens within your walls builds unity and helps you take better care of your patients and your business.

That mindset is already there in your leaders. Build it in your whole staff and you’ll empower them to be leaders in their own right.

How do you wipe out the unconscious inclination to assign blame among lower staff? Start by collective ownership when good things happen. Make sure every team member knows that every triumph is their triumph. Every percentage in growth is their victory, too. Start with the good things. Make it count. Let everyone know how crucial they are to every patient’s positive experience and every innovative initiative.

Sharing glory and sharing failures go hand in hand. Empower them to take credit for the good, and you’ll empower them to overcome challenges together.

Stay connected for more tips on empowering your staff to be leaders. Contact us for assistance evaluating your team, your systems, and your vision for building a dental group as a Dentrepreneur®️.

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