Free Newsletter Call Email

Practice Solutions Blog

December 30, 2021

Conversation Versus Confrontation!

CONVERSATION VERSUS CONFRONTATION!

I have the privilege of facilitating R.I.S.E. & Shine Culture Camps for dental teams nationwide!  Click this link https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/culture-camp.html to learn more about R.I.S.E. & Shine Culture Camps!

The first day of Culture Camp is spent speaking to each team member as well as observing the practice flow.  I ask the same question to everyone.  The question I ask is, “If I could wave a magic wand and make things easier or better what would I change?”  The question opens the dialogue.  Most responses include concerns with doctor or team relationship(s).  I ask if they have tried to discuss it with the person whom they have the concerns.  The response is almost universal.  “No, I don’t like confrontation!”

 

 

There is a big difference between a conversation and a confrontation.  We can ask anyone anything if we are coming from a place of curiosity, care, and concern instead of judgment, criticism, or blame.  It is a confrontation when you are approaching someone with the intent to judge, compare, criticize, or blame.  The difference between a conversation versus a confrontation is based on your approach and your intent.  Be mindful of your energy and intent.  What are the results you are desiring?

The purpose of a conversation is to have a fact finding or fact sharing discussion.  The Approacher (the person initiating the conversation) must be mindful of energy, words, tone, and body language.  Never approach someone to address a concern when you are angry or unable to control your emotions or it will end up being a confrontation.  Approach with a question(s) to simply understand the “why” and not necessarily to resolve.  You may or may not be able to come to a resolution during the conversation.  It may take time for one or both parties to process through reflection and consideration of the other person.  Allowing time to process will remove the stress of having to immediately come to an agreement.  We also don’t want to sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist while we silently stew over the situation.  The goal is to resolve within 24 to 48 hours if possible.  If you feel the need to complain to someone else (venting – which is a nice word for gossip) than it is important to approach the source and have a conversation.

The conversation is always in private and starts with positive clear communication.

Be specific instead of generalizing. Focus more on objective points than subjective opinions.  Just saying “I don’t like it or you’re doing this wrong” is not helpful. On the other hand, stating the specific strengths or skills you would like to see developed is helpful.

Don’t make it personal. Talk about issue not the person. Avoid saying, “you need to”.   Start the conversation with the word I instead of saying you. For example, “I noticed,” “I have seen,” “I observed,” “I am not quite sure what happened,” “Help me understand,” or when sharing feedback from others, “I have had reported to me.” “I” conversations are issue-focused instead of person-focused. Always consider how your words may impact the other person. Ask yourself; how can I say what I need to say and be respectful of how they may feel.

Break your feedback down into key points. Don’t give your feedback as one big lump. Break it down into various key points, then give your feedback point by point.  Give examples of each point. What are the exact issues, situations, or examples where the person exhibits the behaviors you highlighted? There is no need to highlight every single one.  Just disclosing a couple of examples per point will be sufficient. The purpose is to bring the person’s awareness to things which he/she may not be aware of and clearly illustrate what you mean.

Ask the other person what they need from you (communication, support, training, practice) to be able to achieve the desired results. Together discuss and agree on a resolution.

Life will be filled with concerns of situations and other people.  The confidence and skill to have timely conversations will help resolve whatever arises.

December 1, 2021

Keeping Your Team Engaged!

Keeping your team engaged starts with understanding and identifying the different levels of engagement.  There are three levels of engagement: Rowers, Riders, and Resisters!

Rowers – Engaged Employees – are passionate about their work and feel very connected and loyal to the practice.  They are always looking for ways to improve performance and patient care.  They are focused on the big picture of helping the practice succeed.  They base their success on the practice’s success!

Riders – Not Engaged Employees – are essentially checked out.  They can be difficult to spot.  They are just coasting through their day by putting in time without energy or passion.  They are thinking about lunch, who just called on their cell phone, or what they are going to do when they get off work.

Resisters – Actively Disengaged Employees – are unhappy at work and demonstrate it in their words and actions.  They monopolize the doctor/manager’s time (always having to issues that need addressing), have more on-the-job accidents, create more quality concerns, are sicker and miss more days.  They undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish and sabotage the practice.

 

 

Clear and Consistent Expectations

We start with an open and candid conversation clarifying expectations and the results desired.  Go deep enough to explain what, who, when, where, why and how.  So often time’s when delegating things are left unsaid.  Assumptions are made resulting in frustration for the doctor, the manager, and the employee!  If the employee is not clear on expectations, they cannot possibly deliver.   If you are thinking, they should just know that, or I already told them once…I don’t need to tell them again…your results will be limited!

“If you don’t ask for what you want don’t be angry when you don’t get it.” ~ Judy Kay Mausolf

 

Appropriate Equipment and Supplies

Next is making sure the team has the appropriate equipment and supplies to maximize efficiency and get better results.  It demonstrates to the employee that their work is valued because you were willing to give them the support needed to do their job.  For example, a specific instrument to aid your hygienist in safely cleaning around dental implants.  It is important to ask employees if they have what they need to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively.  The initial cost is outweighed by the ROI of increased performance, service, and productivity.

I have found men are usually much better at getting the right equipment and supplies whereas women will try to make do.  This summer my husband Steve and I went a little crazy with filling our deck with pots of flowers, succulents, and evergreens!  It became huge watering chore for me because we did not have a hose up on the deck.  I have been traveling a lot more for business…which means Steve has become the water boy!  Surprise!  I came home to find a faucet and short hose up on the deck.  Watering is now so easy it is fun!  What used to take me 1/2 hour or more now takes under 10 minutes!  We have just tripled my productivity and increased job satisfaction by having the appropriate equipment and supplies!  

  

Focusing on Strengths 

We focus on identifying and building on each team member’s strengths. This one step alone can change productivity by as much as 12.5%.  The best opportunity for people to grow and develop is to help them discover their innate talents.  It just naturally creates a feeling of wellbeing when we can do something well.  We enjoy our work more.  Focusing on a team member’s strengths is a far more effective and positive approach than constantly focusing on their weaknesses.    When employees know and use their strengths, they are more engaged, have higher performance, and are less likely to leave the practice.

Research shows that the management style of focusing on the positive strengths reduces active disengagement to 1%.  Whereas a negative focus management style produces 22% disengagement.  Surprisingly, being ignored causes the most damage at 40% disengagement!  The old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” is not a successful management style.  It delivers to the most negative outcome of all.

 

Which response would your employees say best reflects the management style in your practice?

  • My manager/doctor focuses on my strengths or positive characteristics.
  • My manager/doctor focuses on my weaknesses or negative characteristics.
  • My manager/doctor does not say anything at all, and I feel ignored and invisible.

Leadership teams can help engage the team by creating clear and consistent expectations, providing appropriate supplies/equipment, and focusing on strengths!

Contact Judy Kay today if you would like to learn more about how she can help you get your team ENGAGED and WORKING together to build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture! 

November 1, 2021

How to Encourage Accountability! Part 2

Training is often a culprit of lack of accountability.  It is difficult to complete a task if we are uncertain how it is to be done.  Uncertainty lessens accountability!  Set standards for the practice by defining one way instead of multiple ways.  Standards create consistency and consistency escalates excellence.  The more consistent we are the more accountable we become resulting in a higher performing team and practice.  Provide personal training and cross training as well as entire team training to get everyone aligned on the same page.

 

 

Asking for help is being accountable.  Give your team permission to ask for help when needed.  Asking for help can often feel like a weakness when in essence it is being accountable to make sure the job gets done.  There are some team members who have OCD – Over Committers Dysfunction.  You will often here them say; “I got this!”  when they have so many plates already spinning, they can’t possibly get them all done.  Saying yes can sometimes be less accountable then delegating or asking another person for help.

Prioritize tasks as there will be days even the entire team can’t get everything done!  If we communicate and get the rocks done, we will be okay.  I utilize the rocks, pebbles, and sand analogy to help teams prioritize their responsibilities.  A rock is anything that is important and urgent (needs to be done that day) or there will be negative consequences for the practice.  The biggest rock is always the patient right in front of us.  Everyone helps everyone with their rocks (as long as it is legal, ethical and within their licensure) before going on to their own pebbles and sand.  Once all rocks are completed, the team member may move on to their pebbles.

Pebbles are also very important but not urgent.  Pebbles are never delegated because they can be done another day without affecting the practice negatively.  Everyone is responsible for their own pebbles.  A pebble can eventually become a rock if left undone based on change in urgency.  For example, ordering supplies might become a rock if you must order that day, or you will run out of necessary supplies before they arrive.  Even washing uniforms may become a rock if there are none available for the next day and it is close to closing.

Sand is the filler to fill in open time with cleaning and organizing.  Sand is also never delegated.  Everyone is responsible for their own sand.  This helps to prevent delegating the things that are less desirable.

Confirming by checking in when a task is completed is part of accountability.  It keeps everyone in the loop and ends the night wondering/worry of whether a certain task was completed.

Clearly defined consequences are necessary.  An accountable high performing team is dependent on supporting the patients, the team, and the practice standards.  Our job is whatever is legal, ethical, and within our licensure to help the team and practice thrive!   We must choose to support our patients, team, and practice if we want to be a part of the team!

October 1, 2021

How to Encourage Accountability! Part 1

Just hearing the word accountability often results in a big sigh, rolling the eyes and that ugh feeling.  Let’s face it cultivating accountability can seem like a daunting task.  What usually pops into mind are the words babysitter or micro-manager from past failed attempts at trying to get others to be accountable. We often give up after two or three attempts to hold the person accountable.  We feel that the effort isn’t worth the frustration.

 

 

However, without accountability, execution suffers.  Performance deteriorates when we don’t hold ourselves or others accountable to getting work done well and on time. The more we let things slip the more acceptable it becomes to let them slip again.  A day becomes a week, a week a month and finally not at all.

I am often asked by my clients and audience members; “how many times do I have to ask or remind someone?”  My response is always until they do it or you let them go.  Otherwise, your culture reaps the result of lower performance.  Culture always starts with the leadership team.  It is either what leadership does or allows which becomes viewed as accepted by the team.

There are always consequences when there is lack of accountability to the patients, practice, and team.  Therefore, there must also be consequences to the person who is not being accountable.

Without it, it is difficult to get people to assume ownership of their own actions because they believe they will not face any consequences.

Here are ways leaders can demonstrate and encourage accountability.

Establish clear job expectations.  What are the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly expectations?  I like to use S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Timely

 

Communicate daily and address any concerns immediately.  We often let things go a few times before addressing.  The concern is once something is allowed (not addressed) it is considered acceptable.  Nip things in the bud as soon as they happen.

Have constructive conversations.  Notice I did not say constructive criticism.  I have yet to find anything constructive about criticism.  A constructive conversation starts out with what you appreciate.  For example, “I really appreciate, or I really like that you did ____…And I would add ______ to make it even better.”  Notice I used the word and not the word but.  The word but negates what was previously said.  The word and builds on what was good.  Three positive comments to one growth opportunity make a good conversation.  Five positive comments to one growth opportunity make a great conversation!  We want to build our team up and make them feel more confident.  Confidence helps nurture accountability.

Read November’s Show Your Shine for Part 2 of How to Encourage Accountability!

September 1, 2021

Staff Shortage!!! 5 Steps to Help You Survive the Staff Shortage.

Yes, I know the term team is more uniting and empowering than the word staff.  Also, that staff is an infection.  😊 However, I like the alliteration of short staffed versus short teamed or team shortage.

Times have changed and nearly everyone faces sporadic or chronic staffing challenges.  Stop and take a moment and breathe deep!  You will survive this challenge and be even better after!

Start by writing an ad that is enticing and specific to attract that new superstar team member!  Together as a team define specific skills and traits desired for the position.  Please email me at JudyKay@PracticeSolutonsInc.net if you would like to receive a sample ad.

 

 

Here are 5 steps to help you survive the shortage until you hire your new superstar!

Communicate – Take time to communicate as a team.  Notice I used the term team now as no need for alliteration.  Together define specific tasks that were being done by the employee or employees who are gone.   Make a list of the specific tasks that need to be done instead of panicking.  Avoid generalization of tasks as the more specific the easier the solution.

Prioritize – Triage the list of tasks.  What must be done?  What can be delayed?  What can be let go?  I like to utilize Rocks, Pebbles and Sand to prioritize.

  • Rocks – Important and Urgent – Rocks must be done that day or consequences
  • Pebbles – Important and Not Urgent – Pebbles can be done another day without consequences. However, if delayed long enough a Pebble can turn into a Rock.
  • Sand – Not Important and Not Urgent – Sand is the filler like cleaning and organizing and can be delayed the longest.

Utilize Human Resources – Your human resources are your entire team.  So often we compartmentalize the team into departments.  We lessen our resources when we compartmentalize.  Instead, be creative when discussing who could do specific tasks.  Take time to cross train whenever possible.  A highly cross trained team is much more flexible and beneficial!  My favorite job description is:

“My job from the moment I check in to the moment I check out is whatever is legal, ethical, and within my licensure to help the patients, practice, and team thrive!”

Also consider which tasks could be done virtually.  There are many platforms available.   

Utilize Technology – Learn your technology in your practice.  Invest the time now and you will become more efficient and effective.  I work with practices nationwide and very few fully maximize their technology.  Schedule a call with your practice software trainer asap.  Review your lists of tasks to learn what tasks could possibly be automated.  For example, billing, confirming appointments, contacting recare etc.  There is often so much more we can do with the existing technology in our practice.

Look into additional technology that would allow you to automate in the clinical area.  For example, Voiceworks Software allows hygienists to be autonomous with probing as well as more effective and efficient.  Check out the video on voice-controlled charting.  The link is  https://oralscience.com/en/products/voiceworks/

Schedule – Review the schedule with your team based on current staffing available.  Many of you have new team members that will take time to train.  Do you need more time for procedures?  Do you need to change what is scheduled in conjunctive columns?  You may even need to temporarily suspend scheduling a column.  FEAR ALERT!!!  I know you are concerned about overhead and the bottom line etc.  However, if you consistently overwhelm and over burden your current old and new team members they may leave as well.  Or worse yet…they will stay and become burned out and disengaged.

Review the past two weeks schedule with your team.  Where were the bottlenecks and stress points?  What shows up consistently?  Adress the consistent problem areas by adjusting the schedule to accommodate them based on current team, training, and skills.

Implement these 5 steps and you will not only survive you will thrive!

August 2, 2021

Delivering W.O.W. Treatment Presentations!

The ability to proficiently present treatment and fees is critical to the success of your practice.  The more your patients understand their dental needs and the fees associated with treatment, the more likely they are to accept your recommendations. You want the patient to understand exactly what they need, why they need it, and the importance of getting it done now.

Most people dislike surprises when it comes to dental care and costs.  Real understanding on the part of the patient leads to case acceptance. Use stories and analogies focused on real life benefits for the patient.  For example, eating corn on the cob or steak or even just being able to smile.

It is vital that the team member (presenter) presenting treatment and fees is confident and comfortable with this role. Seventy percent of case acceptance breaks down because of the way the fees were handled.  The presenter must understand dentistry and absolutely believe in the value and the quality of dentistry delivered in the practice.

Teach all team members the procedures that are being performed in the office.  Together as a team create and practice consistent treatment verbiage.  Utilize the same verbiage the doctor uses to avoid any confusion and keep everyone in the practice on the same page.

It is critical that the presenter discuss the treatment and fees with enthusiasm.  Listen to the patient’s financial concerns, enthusiastically promote the payment options, and clearly communicate the financial protocol.  Our patients’ perception is based on only 7% of our words, 38% our tone of voice, and 55% our body language.

Consistent fees and payment protocols are vital to build the presenters confidence and proficiency. A dental practice is not a bank or a charity and deserves to get paid for services rendered. Never be uncomfortable about charging appropriate fees or pre-judge a patient’s ability to pay.

It is a lesson I learned well over 30 years ago.  I can clearly remember misjudging a patient’s ability to pay only to find out later they were extremely wealthy.  The patient arrived for their appointment disheveled and dressed in a dated threadbare running suit.  I later learned the patient had just come from working on a home project.  The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a great metaphorical reminder that means one shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone.

The following approach will enable the presenter to deliver W.O.W. Presentations.

Mindset

The goal of the practice is to make it as comfortable as possible for the patient to have the very best dentistry available.  Adopt a mindset of being an advocate to help the patient get the treatment they need and desire.  Present treatment with care and concern not assumptions, judgement or criticism.

Informed Consent

A successful treatment presentation results in informed consent not just scheduling treatment.  Verify the following information with every patient.

  • Sequence
  • Time
  • Compliance
  • Investment

Handling Objections

It is essential for the presenter to actively listen to the patient’s concerns and comments. Their responses focused on What’s In It For The Patient (WIIFTP).  Use patient focused benefits verbiage.  Speak in “layman’s” terms so the patient clearly understands what is being said.

I teach W.O.W. Presentations.  W.O.W. is an acronym for weed out the weeds.  A weed is anything that might make your patient feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe and possibly destroy the relationship.

I have found the Feel, Felt, Found Method to show empathy works extremely well.

  • I can understand why you might feel this way.
    • It tells the patient you heard them and empathize with them.
  • Other patients had initially felt that as well.
    • It tells the patient they are not alone and things can change.
  • What they have found was….
    • It tells the patient what another person found when they followed through, they got the results they wanted.

 

W.O.W. Process – Work, Options, When

It is important that there is consistency of treatment presentations amongst team members as well as clear documentation of all patient conversations.  Utilize the W.O.W. Process to deliver consistent and effective treatment presentations. This is a second acronym for W.O.W. which is work, options and when.  The W.O.W. Process is a simple three step process.

  • Work
    • Review treatment and fees with patient.
  • Options
    • Offer options, finalize, and sign payment arrangements.
  • When
    • Offer two available appointments and schedule an appointment.

Delivering a W.O.W. presentation is a win for the patient and the practice, resulting in a healthy smile for the patient and healthy bottom line for the practice.

Email judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net to receive your white page on Delivering W.O.W. Treatment Presentations.

July 1, 2021

Culture Is Like a Puzzle!

When I think about culture, I think of it as a puzzle.  The framework of the puzzle is created by the owner dentist(s).  They design it using their vision, core values, type of service and treatment they desire to deliver.  The team are the pieces that together make up the body of the puzzle.

 

 

I have observed an increase in the team turnover this past year due to the pandemic and other reasons.  It is important to hire the right team member for the right spot to be a good fit.  Otherwise, the result is problems and team turnover.  As a team identify the character traits and skill sets that are needed in the new team member to succeed at their role and integrate with the existing team.

The existing team is responsible to learn how to successfully work with the new team member.  It is imperative that the existing team members take the time to get to know and train the new team member.  I understand that training can seem like an added burden to the existing workload.  However, the more welcoming and supportive the training the sooner the new team member will be able to take on tasks.  Some new team members are quick learners and instantly work well with the existing team.  They are like puzzle pieces that fit together.  Others take more time and effort.

Set realistic training expectations for each position in the office.  Base the expectations on the average learning cycle.  I have found the tell them, show them, have them show you training process is very effective.  Create weekly goals for the first month and monthly goals for the second and third month.  Assign a mentor to meet with the new team member on a weekly basis for the first 3 months to review and celebrate successes as well as discuss goals for the following week or month.  It is imperative that the mentor is supportive and understanding.  Training expectations will lessen feeling overwhelmed and clarify goals for the entire team.

It is the responsibility of the team (new and existing) not the doctor or manager to recognize what they need to do to create a cohesive puzzle.

Often multiple new team members are joining the practice resulting in multiple changes to the puzzle.  This becomes even more a challenge.  So how do we make all the new pieces fit together?  Find opportunities for the team to communicate openly day-to-day.  Get aligned by clarifying the following:

  • What are the expectations from the new team members
  • What are the expectations from the existing team members

For example, existing team members, just because you have always done it a certain way does not mean you don’t need to be open to new ideas.  New team members don’t try to change everything right away just because you did it differently at your old office.  The comment, this is how we did it at my other office, quickly gets old and is not appreciated.  New team members immerse yourself in the practice culture to understand what they do and why.   Wait to bring up any suggestions until after the first 90 days.  This will help eliminate chafing between new and existing team members.

Implementing this puzzle analogy will help create a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture.

June 1, 2021

My Way or The Highway!

Our success in life depends greatly on our relationships in life!  Our relationships are the result of how well we communicate and collaborate in our personal and our professional lives.  When we communicate openly, positively, and effectively we inspire connections and build sincere, strong, sustaining relationships. Our ceiling of success then becomes like the old expression, “Sky’s the limit”.

What often gets in the way and sabotages successful relationships is our personal beliefs of right and wrong.

Most of our beliefs can be traced back to our early years.  I’m the youngest of seven and am blessed with a great family.  I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. My past experiences will differ greatly from those who were not raised in the same environment.  Our expectations of right and wrong will vary and may even conflict based on our past experiences.

When we interact with others, we are always coming from a place filled with our own experiences. Our expectations differ because of our unique and individual beliefs, opinions, and assumptions based on our experiences. These expectations become our personal truths upon which we base judgments of right and wrong. To help you remember the concept, see the first letters of each word; it spells out the word B.O.A.T. Beliefs, Opinions, Assumptions, therefore, are Truths based on our experiences.

We all have unique and individual experiences, yet we expect each other to think, act, and respond the same. These are some false expectations that can get us into trouble.

  • Others must behave in the same manner as we do, or their behavior is wrong.
  • Another person’s behavior must mean the same as ours if we did that same behavior.
  • We get in a disagreement because others disagree with our opinion (after all we are right and want it our way)!

These are examples of expectations based on personal truths. Once we understand that our personal truths (how we judge the world by what is right and wrong) are based on the unique and individual experiences we have, we can no longer believe that our answer is the only right answer.

Our personal truths dictate our right!  We may be right based on the current extent of our experiences.  However, there is a whole big universe out there filled with experiences we have yet to meet.  Right and wrong are really arbitrary.  The more knowledge and understanding we have the more we will realize how ambiguous right and wrong become.  In our current state of affairs, it is very difficult to really know what is true or a manipulation of the truth.  When we continue to explore, we will find there is always more than one right way.

I used to love listening to Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.  The Rest of the Story was a Monday-through-Friday radio program originally hosted by Paul Harvey.  The Rest of the Story consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Be open to the more of the story instead of stubbornly attaching to your beliefs.  Avoid making assumptions and filling in the gap based on your B.O.A.T.!  Ask questions until you uncover and understand the root of the belief, the why behind the story.  Here are some good questions to ask when you are in disagreement.

  • Where did you learn this belief?
  • Tell me why you believe this to be right?
  • Tell me why you feel so strongly about this?

More importantly, do a little soul searching first to understand your beliefs before you question other’s beliefs.  Here are triggering questions to ask yourself to uncover your why.

  • Where did I learn this belief?
  • Is this belief based on truth or illusion?
  • How important is this belief?
  • How this belief affecting me?
  • Do I still need this belief (how relevant is it now)?

Let go of thinking I have to, you must, they should, and it has to be!  These are the words we use to judge others.  When we think we know more or better than someone else we are setting ourselves up for a clash of beliefs.  We become too attached to our own point of view and that others must share it.    Once we become too attached to an idea we lose respect both for ourselves and others.  Sometimes a belief can even become more important than the other people.  It is the root of extremism and fanatics.

The world is filled with different beliefs and different ways.  Who says we all have to always agree.  More importantly we need to respect each other and work together for the better of all mankind.  I love what my big sis Lorraine taught me years ago.  It is okay to agree to disagree.  We can stick to our right or we can be open to infinite possibilities!

April 30, 2021

A Communication Structure to Get in the Loop & Aligned! Part 2

Last month we covered different communication structures based on the size of the practice. This month will be focused on the meetings necessary to support your communication structure.

Allow time to communicate daily with a huddle. Daily huddles are for the team including doctor(s) to triage the day. Discuss any bottlenecks/obstacles, where to put emergencies and if any team member(s) will be missing that day. End the huddle with something positive and uplifting to help unite the team to work together to make it a great day!

Weekly management meetings between the director of operations and all location managers together will help nurture consistency, cohesiveness, and accountability throughout the company. It is key that any changes are discussed and agreed on at the weekly management meeting prior to implementing at any location.

Managers will meet with their team leads on a weekly basis to share information and get feedback that is pertinent to their location.

Mangers will also hold monthly team meetings to include their team, doctor(s), and director of operations. Each location manager will lead their own team meeting. The director of operations will attend each manager’s monthly team meeting to give a quick update on the company and to support the manager.

Team meetings are ideal for getting feedback from the entire team before making any changes. This allows the team to feel heard and take ownership. Team meetings also allow time to discuss and define how the change will be implemented in each location.

The frequency of team meetings will depend on your practice’s specific needs. I would suggest meeting weekly if you are a newer practice, newer team or and existing practice that is making a lot of changes. Monthly is sufficient if you have been in practice with the same team and not making many changes. Multi-location practices are to schedule monthly team meetings at each location the same week to keep the entire company on the same page.

Team meetings also help to create accountability by reviewing your previous meeting’s notes to see if the changes were successfully implemented.

It is imperative that everyone supports and holds each other accountable to the communication structure, or it will fail. Which means doctors/managers if someone on the team approaches you with a question, instead of answering the question, refer them to the appropriate person defined in the structure. Otherwise, the team will continue to go to the wrong person and disrupt the flow.

Here is a list of the meetings necessary to support an effective communication structure in a large practice or multi-location practice.

  • Annually or bi-annually teambuilding meeting for entire team and doctors
  • Annual performance review led by director of operations (DOO) and includes location manager and team member (feedback given to DOO from doctor prior to review if doctor(s) unable to attend)
  • Monthly leadership meetings between DOO and doctors
  • Monthly team meetings at each location (all the same week) led by location manager and includes DOO as well as doctors and team in that location
  • Weekly management meeting with DOO and all location managers
  • Weekly check in meetings with location manager and team leads
  • Individual team meeting as needed

Creating a clear and consistent communication structure and meetings will help keep everyone in the loop and on the same page working together for the greater good of the patients, practice, and team!

 

April 1, 2021

A Communication Structure to Get in the Loop & Aligned! Part 1

 

I think George Bernard Shaw said it best when he said, “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished!” I find that to be the case in many dental practices today. More relationships are destroyed because of poor communication than for any other reason.

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide facilitating my Rise & Shine Culture Camps. I consistently observe concerns with the communication structure in dental practices. What I mean by communication structure is the actual flow of communication. It is what is necessary to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page working together for the greater good of the patients, practice, and team!

An effective communication structure starts with establishing a clear flow for communication and clarifying expectations to the team.

  • Who to go to or does it differ for specific areas? For example, do they always go to the office manager or is there a specific person for equipment repair, ordering supplies, or team, and patient concerns, etc.?
  • When to meet? Always consider who needs to know what information and when do they need to know it?
  • What is the decision-making process and how is it communicated to the team? Who will make the final decision and how quickly can it be made? I suggest trying to resolve within one week after being discussed at weekly management meeting to keep the practice moving forward. Try to resolve immediately if it pertains to the schedule that day.

 

The communication structure will differ based on size of practice and number of locations. For example, if you have one doctor and five team members in a single location versus 5 doctors and 45 team members in multiple locations.

The communication structure in a small one location practice without a manager would simply be doctor to team member and team member to doctor. As simple as that sounds it does not necessarily happen. I often observe a doctor or team member going another team member to share their concerns instead of going to each other. It is called gossip and is divisive.

The communication structure for practices with a manager would flow from doctor to manager and manager to team member and reversed team member to manager and manager to doctor. Even this simple communication structure can be difficult to maintain if the doctor and manager deviate from the flow.

It becomes more complicated when there are multiple locations and more team members with different shifts or start and end times. Larger multiple location practices with team leads would utilize the following communication structure. Doctors to director of operations, director of operations to location manager, location manager to team lead, team lead to team member. The reversed would-be team member to team lead, team lead to location manager, location manager to director of operations, director of operations to doctors.

Doctors may not always need to be included in the flow of communication depending on subject matter. The director of operations may make the decisions to expedite the process and keep the doctors in the loop at their scheduled monthly leadership meeting.

Implementing this communication structure will help to keep everyone in the loop and aligned!

Tune in next month to learn about what meetings are necessary to support your communication structure.

 

 

Older Posts »