You only get one shot at a first impression. Sure, we all know this to be true. So how it is that we allow ourselves to be seduced into believing that our early days in a new practice are an exception to that? There are no gimmes, no mulligans, and no trial periods as new co-workers and new patients develop perceptions. It all starts on day one.
What are the most critical aspects of your character to solidify in that fragile, formative first year? Consistency needs to be near the top of your list. Your even-handedness and predictability is crucial to establishing yourself as a fair and credible member of the team. Even with the best intentions to become fast friends, any perception of playing favorites, gossiping, or manipulation can quickly wipe away credibility. Once consistency (and trust) is broken, it will be terribly difficult to re-establish, and will significantly impair your ability to give and receive vital communications within the team.
Furthermore, patients need assurance that one great visit isnt’ a fluke! If I went to a barber for the first time and got a great haircut, I’d likely return. But what happens to my perception of the barber if the second haircut is horrible? And then, the third and fourth are great, but the fifth is way off. I know the barber is capable of delivering a great cut, but I’m also relying on getting a great outcome consistently! Competence (or even talent) just isn’t enough when consistency is lacking.
In a strange way, perception IS reality, although the two might actually differ. Don’t wait until ownership or a formal leadership title to begin practicing consistency–it’s inherent to your character from the very beginning.