Communicate your Vision
Sometimes, introducing a new idea or concept is like pushing a big stone up a very steep hill. It’s never easy. People don’t like change. The easier option is to continue doing what we’ve always done in the past. Barriers are put up, supported by apathy. It gets to the stage that we give up because nobody is showing any interest in your vision.
It’s not their fault, it’s your’s!
Sustainability has never been part of the brief in the dental profession, therefore engagement levels are very low. There are no identifiable experts as it is so new.
Change management is much more complicated than time management or people management and this is what you are being tasked with. How can we bring about change without disrupting the status quo? Here’s a list of things that will assist change:
- Cost – Rising energy bills are a prime example. If we can save money by doing x,y and z, this will allow us to maintain staffing levels, give an end of year bonus, or whatever trigger is most effective. Action and consequence. The reverse implication of this statement would be if we don’t make savings there will be negative consequences, but always try to make positive statements.
- Fear – If the bees die, we all die! Although this is true, it would scare most people into disbelief. Reverse this statement into a positive by talking about the amazing job that bees do and that we must protect them. Remember, Action and Consequence and try to keep the consequence positive.
- Empathy – We have all been moved by the terrible images of flooding in Pakistan, the wildfires in southern Europe. This has prompted a lot of people to become more considerate with how they are impacting our environment. Global warming has killed thousands of humans this year, as well as so many animals. Empathy for such tragedies is positioned very close to apathy in that we feel sorry for homes being destroyed in Asia but it doesn’t really affect us so we don’t need to bother with it. This is clearly untrue. Individual responsibility must be taken for the carbon we emit as this affects everyone around the world.
- Awareness – In your next staff meeting, or during a lunch break, have a quiz. Ask for a list of negative impacts your clinic is having on the environment. Your team will start to provide you with things that have to be addressed in the clinic in order to reduce your carbon footprint and take steps towards net zero dentistry. Get their buy-in.
- Patience – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Although our environmental issues are really urgent, we cannot force them on people otherwise you will experience push-back. Take your time with implementing your changes. Plan them carefully and deliver them with reasoned logic. We were told of one dental nurse who bought everyone in the clinic a packet of seeds and asked them to scatter them wherever they wanted. This became the talk of the clinic for weeks on end as the wildflowers started to blossom, bees started their cross fertilisation, and before they knew it, the entire clinic had bought into environmental principles. One simple action created multiple positive consequences.
- Teamwork – Every clinic has a boss and everyone looks to the boss for leadership, inspiration and direction. However, with this specific issue, we have seen anyone from reception to clinical directors take responsibility for the sustainability in their clinic. This is truly an example of pride in your work. Encourage whoever comes up with ideas, no matter how obtuse they are. Let environmental leaders take the lead and everyone will fall into line in support.
- Challenge – Everyone loves a challenge. An example would be daily or weekly targets, UDAs or monetary values or any other statistic that drives your clinic. Here’s a challenge. Ask the entire team to eat a non-meat dinner once a week. Get them to share recipes and ideas on what they could have. The outcome is a reduction in methane produced from cattle which is a major contributor to damaging the ozone layer, which in turn affects global warming.
- Team Building – Getting the team involved in a group effort is great for building morale and working together. It delivers the feeling of success and well-being. As an idea, contact the Marine Conservation Society and find out where the nearest beach clean (or riverbank) is and organise a team activity around this. Tell the world about your activity so that your patients and the general public give you a big pat on the back for your efforts. This is one way to offset the mountains of single-use plastic that the clinic disposes of daily.
- Dig Deep – We work closely with Ecologi.com as a means of offsetting. For every pound of income we generate, 10% is spent with Ecologi who plant trees, reinforce broken riverbanks, sponsor bee-keeping…all the good things our planet desperately needs. How can you raise funds to put towards Net Zero Dentistry’s page on Ecologi.com? https://ecologi.com/netzerodentistry
- Reward – Find a way of rewarding your team for achievement of sustainability targets. If targets are achieved, running costs in the clinic will be reduced.
Give close consideration to these points, appoint someone who has genuine interest in this initiative to take responsibility for your sustainability. Get everyone involved. Follow Net Zero Dentistry on social media to keep up to date with the profession’s progress. Make sure everyone is totally bought in to the initiative. Ask them to have a look through our website so that they can build their awareness, they can educate themselves, they can assess the clinic’s sustainability and they can drive change with passion. Together we can make a difference.