Self-doubt is a destructive mechanism that undermines the best of us and can interfere with the inner workings of a team very quickly. Like a deck of cards, it only takes one person to feel wrong-footed for practice systems to collapse.
One suspects many of us have had a crisis of confidence in the past months. Coronavirus has brought with it waves of unpredictability, numerous lockdowns and restrictions, and peaks of anxiety for dental teams and their patients. Few will have escaped its impact and, whilst deep sympathy goes out to those whose have lost loved ones to Covid-19, suffered weeks of ill health or waved goodbye to jobs amidst this pandemic, there is work to be done in ensuring those in dentistry remain confident in delivering the best in dental care.
With this latest lockdown, our quiet hope for a better year may have been muted further with troubled minds aplenty, leaving teams at risk of destabilised confidence.
As is often the case in such scenarios, clear communication is key, and managers would be wise to encourage open and honest dialogue as we endure a third national lockdown.
But what else do teams require to feel confident and supported in these troubled times? Leadership need to go beyond best practice if we are to come out the other side as a solid and secure unit. The messages conveyed by leaders should be reflected in the real world. It’s no good paying lip service to mental health support if this is not followed through. Those in authority need to demonstrate commitment at a very basic level, and that includes regulators and representative bodies upon whom the responsibility of conveying important information (and support) lies.
By personalising messages to the team, and by making adjustments to management strategy to include for two-way and group dialogue, managers can bed in a new norm that offers a safety valve for stressed-out staff who may be struggling with their confidence amid this public health crisis.
Practice owners need to create a culture of empathy if they are to build a resilient team. Arguably, the true value of the ‘team’ concept lies in each and every one of us. But, sadly, very often in these times, people can turn against each other – and it can make harsh critics of us all. We must remain ever mindful of the need to respect and value our own limits as well as those of others.