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December 1, 2022

Me Destroys We!

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide through my teambuilding Culture Camps!  They are customized to meet the unique and specific needs of the practice and vary greatly in each office.  However, every Culture Camp starts with a meeting on the first night with the leadership team.  I start with them because everything begins and ends with their leadership.  It’s what leaders do, allow, or accept that cultivates the culture.  If the leadership team is not aligned and cohesive it will be difficult to get the aligned and cohesive.

I spend the first evening getting to know and building a relationship with the leadership team.  We discuss their goals and obstacles with the practice, team, and each other.  I refer to the leadership team as the “we team”!  I call them the “we team” because leaders need to think as we instead of as me.  We thinking” cultivates alignment and cohesion.  When leaders are aligned and cohesive, they communicate and work together better which produces a happier, healthier, and higher performing practice culture.

One of the pitfalls I observe especially in high producing practices is discord amongst the leadership team.  Often the more successful a practice is the more strife there seems to be between the leadership team.  Success often inflames egos.  It is dangerous when we allow success to go to our head.  When it does, our ego takes over and we feel entitled.  Entitlement changes our mindset from we to me.  “Me destroys we!”

Me creates an exaggerated pride, overwhelming self-confidence, and contempt for others.  Taken to extreme it can become the acquired personality disorder “hubris syndrome.” Scientific research defines it as a “disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years.”

There is a difference between a healthy ego and an unhealthy one.  Healthy egos are good and needed to succeed.  When meeting and assessing the leadership team, I look for signs of an unhealthy ego that may undermine alignment, cohesiveness, and even greater success.

Here are some of the most common sabotaging beliefs.  Consider your own thinking and see if you might need to readjust your viewpoint.

  • I am the owner doctor, and I can do what I want.
  • I am entitled to do what I want because I am the biggest producer.
  • I only support my decisions because I have the most knowledge.
  • I can never show when I am unsure or don’t know the answer or it will make me look stupid.
  • I can’t admit to mistakes, or it will make me look weak.
  • I will deflect and criticize others when I am challenged to not lose face.

An unhealthy ego narrows our perception and corrupts our behavior, often causing us to act against our core values.  When we believe we’re are the only one responsible for our success, we tend to be disrespectful, selfish, and unkind.  After all, we don’t need anyone else, and others are replaceable!  This is especially true in challenging situations. An unhealthy ego is like a wall that stops us from learning from our failures. Our past success left unchecked can sabotage our future success!

An unhealthy ego looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. It makes us believe we are always right.  We only see and hear things our way.  We become susceptible like the emperor in the folktale The Emperor’s New Clothes!”

The result, we alienate the people we lead, the culture, and ultimately the patients.  I love the quote “Ego is a three-letter word that can destroy a big twelve-letter word called Relationship!”   We have all heard about great bands who had amazing success only to break up because of unhealthy egos.  They became a me instead of a “We”.   Their ego created me entitlement.  Me entitlement ended their relationship and sabotaged their future success as a band!

Healthy egos are good and needed to succeed.  A healthy ego is confident and decisive.  Yet, they know that there is more than just one way.  They know they aren’t always right.  They encourage open dialogue and are open to feedback.  They will support what is in the best interests of the practice, patients, and team (also referring doctors if they are a specialty practice).

Behaviors of a healthy leadership ego are:

  • They are determined to make a difference.
  • They know their why (sense of purpose).
  • They are self-confident and secure.
  • They are aware of their weaknesses and are comfortable in their skin.
  • They reflect instead of deflect.
  • They are approachable, open, and honest.
  • They keep things in perspective.
  • They admit when they are wrong.
  • They allow themselves to be vulnerable.
  • They are genuine and don’t pretend to be something they are not.
  • They are tolerant of people who have different views.
  • They are willing to listen and accept feedback.
  • They empower others to step up.

No one is perfect, and our ego will get the best of us at times.  Being open to feedback from our co-leaders, team members, and using a coach who can observe and advise are great ways to become a more aligned and cohesive “We”!

November 1, 2022

Get Grateful…Get Happy!

Did you know that grateful people are happier?  People who are grateful feel higher levels of wellbeing.  Grateful people are less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, self-acceptance, and success. Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.

Sometimes it can be difficult to show gratitude when we don’t feel it. I think gratitude is kind of tricky. It’s one of those things that until we start to show it, we don’t feel it. The tricky part is how do we show if we don’t feel it? Do we fake it? I believe we get so busy in our lives we no longer perceive what we have as gifts instead we take them for granted. It is not until we lose them that we remember how much they mean to us. Life becomes routine and things are just normal, and we falsely believe normal will last forever.

As hard as these economic times can be…there can also be blessings. They force us to realize there are no guarantees and things are only as they are for the moment.  When we realize things in life and life itself is temporary, we no longer take it for granted and we feel grateful. So, if you like who and what is in your life right now right this moment, take this moment to feel grateful. Gratitude starts by being present in the moment.

You can get present this moment while you are reading this.  Just look…look all around you. Take a moment longer to rest in the moment and digest it all. What do you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste?  If tomorrow, all that was no longer, who and what would you miss? How funny when we push the noise aside how easy it is to be embraced with gratitude for all our blessings. How clear it all becomes, colors are more vibrant, sounds are musical, smells are sweeter, relationships have become precious, and everything comes alive. Only, isn’t it just the same as it was before…only now we see it.

The grass is greener on the other side is a very contagious comparison syndrome. You know, someone else has something, instantly we want it and think we must have it. We believe it will make our life easier, or better, or more meaningful. Only to find out once we have it, nothing has changed. Why is it we instantly see what we are missing and miss what we already have?  It’s because the…. grass is always greener when someone else has it!!!  The simple truth is we will never be happy with what we have until we are happy with what we have. Okay, so maybe that sounds a bit redundant. It’s not! It’s so simple it’s deep. LOL! Just think about it for a moment. It is only when we are happy and are grateful for what we already have that we began to feel happy for what we have. When we give thanks and appreciate the things that already exist in our life and stop comparing ourselves to others, we find peace and happiness.

Start and end your day with words of gratitude. It might be as simple as, “I am grateful to be alive another day to celebrate what life has in store for me.” Or “Thank you for another day!”  Do you remember the old saying count your blessings? When we get in the habit of counting our blessings, we feel gratitude. Think about all the things you are grateful for such as family, friends, health, home, work, the sunshine or even the snow. Take a notebook or your computer and write down the top 10 things that make you feel grateful. Funny, how once we start, we realize how many things we must be truly grateful for…okay, maybe top 20 if you can stop there.  Funny thing, I feel a greater sense of wellbeing just writing this!   Give thanks and appreciate the things that already exist in your life!  Stop comparing yourself and your life to others and you will find peace and happiness!

September 29, 2022

5 Strategies That Cultivate Positive Change!    

I help dental teams nationwide successfully embrace change. This message is dedicated to learning how to cultivate a culture where change can be a more positive, successful, and sustainable experience!  Change requires us to have courage to face our fear of the unpredictable unknown! Regardless of how dysfunctional, unhappy, unproductive, or toxic the current culture maybe it often feels safer to keep the status quo. The known almost always feels safer than the unknown. That is why the value of the change must be clear to those expected to make the change. It is important for the value and benefits of change to rate an 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high. Otherwise, the chance for the change to be sustained is limited.

“Change starts in our mind!”

I facilitate Culture Camps nationwide.  I have found 5 consistent strategies that cultivate positive change!

  • Trust in leadership
  • Clear and consistent message
  • Structured plan
  • Adequate training and practice time
  • Realistic workload

Number 1!  Trust in the leadership. If the team members trust their leader(s) they will be more willing to step into the unpredictable unknown. Leaders can build trust by embodying the following traits:

  • Model the waddle is the number one leadership principle – in other words lead by example
  • Aligned leadership – Have a clear and consistent direction
  • Be transparent and keep the team in the loop as much as possible
  • Be open to suggestions and feedback
  • Address any obstacles, fears, or concerns the team may have in open communication

Number 2!  Communicate a clear and consistent message. Set your team up to succeed by communicating the change clearly and concisely. I suggest the following communication process:

  • Clarify expectations
  • Ask questions to make sure everyone understands
  • Write objective down in bullet points if more than a couple of things
  • Set realistic expectations for completion time and date
  • For more involved or longer tasks schedule a check in

Number 3!  Develop a well-structured plan. If you want the team to embrace a change, ask for their suggestions and feedback on how to implement the change. If you want the team to have ownership, give them authorship as well. A well-structured plan is well thought out and clearly defined. I teach teams the R.I.S.E. Implementation Process to help them work together to create a well-structured plan. R.I.S.E. is an acronym for Review, Implement, Sustain and Evaluate.  Email me at JudyKay@PracticeSolutionsInc.net and request R.I.S.E. Process White page.

Number 4!  Schedule appropriate and adequate training and practice time. I have found that the most positive and successful changes happen when the team has time to train and practice.  Team meetings are the perfect opportunity for training and practice time.

Number 5!  Be realistic with workload expectations. It will be very difficult to get the team excited about embracing something new if they already feel swamped and are consistently running behind. It is important to evaluate if there is enough time, money and people to implement the change successfully. Even the most committed employees will become resistant to change if they are consistently overwhelmed.

Implementing these 5 strategies will help you cultivate positive change!

September 1, 2022

A Code of Commitments!

Even the best of us can lose our way in all the noise and hubbub of the day-to-day stresses! Establishing a Code of Commitments for the practice will help the entire team keep on track…even in stressful situations when the wheels fall off!

A Code of Commitments is about having a preplanned game plan on how to react. Behaviorally, that means testing decisions and planned reactions for “integrity” that support the core values before implementing them.

Here are 4 questions to help you create your own code of conduct:

  • Is it legal?
  • Is it ethical?
  • Does it align with the practice core values?
  • Does it support each other and the patients?

I suggest a team meeting (4 hours minimal) to establish a Code of Commitments for the practice.  Start the meeting by reviewing the practice’s 4 core values.  Owner doctors you will need to have established 4 core values in order of priority.  All owner doctors must support the same 4 core values.  Ask the entire team to share how, when and where they feel the Core Values are not being supported.

Utilize a large easel pad and markers to write down all the concerns being shared.  Discuss the breakdowns that are happening.  What current attitudes and behaviors support the Core Values?  What current attitudes and behaviors need changing to support the Core Values?  The behaviors you list that support as well as the necessary changes become your new Code of Commitments!

It is very important for the We Team (leadership team) to lead by example on whatever is established as the Code of Commitments.

Here is an example of a Code of Commitments.

  • Model the waddle you want to see
  • Set and maintain high standards – no double standards
  • Support a no gossip culture
  • Communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully
  • Treat each other as well as you treat your patients
  • Resolve conflict by going to the source the same day if possible
  • Take ownership, follow through, and be accountable for your mistakes
  • Support each other and help each other succeed
  • Hold each other accountable to the practice’s standards for behavior, communication, attitude, and service!

Having a Code of Commitments will empower the entire team to interact with patients and each other with integrity!

August 1, 2022

Three Reasons Why Incentives Don’t Motivate or Change Behavior!

Do incentives work? This is the question that I am consistently asked. I have seen many different incentive strategies with little to no positive outcome. It is disheartening when dentists tell me they gave their team money, gifts, or trips and didn’t receive even a simple thank you. Yet when I talk to the team, they say they are very appreciative and yet confused. They are not sure if it is a reward or an incentive with expectations to change something. An open conversation will go a long way in creating clarity as well as create an opportunity to express appreciation.

There is a vast difference between an incentive and a reward. Incentives have attached expectations to motivate and improve behavior or performance. An incentive is in essence an enticement to change something. A reward is simply a thank you for past performance without any strings attached. Incentives have future expectations attached to them and rewards do not.

Dentists and managers don’t often determine if they are offering and incentive or a reward. They give to the team with little or no explanation. Therefore, the team is unsure as well. What is the motivation for giving the incentive? Knowing whether it is an incentive, or a reward will make a big difference on your expectations and how you perceive your team’s response.

I have had the privilege of working with dental teams since the early 80’s first as a manager and now as a culture coach. I have yet to see where incentives have created any long-term change. The sad truth is that incentives don’t generate sustained motivation or changes in behavior. Any expectation of an incentive increasing and sustaining motivation and performance will disappoint.

The assumption that incentives work is prevalent, but growing evidence supports the opposite. According to numerous studies in workplaces, classrooms, and other settings, rewards typically undermine the very processes they are intended to enhance.

So back to the question…do incentives work? The answer depends on what we mean by “work.” Research suggests that incentives succeed at only temporary compliance. When it comes to producing lasting change in attitudes and behavior, however, incentives, like punishment, are ineffective. “Incentives are like throwing sticky balls at a wall and hoping they will stick.”

Here are three reasons why incentives don’t work.

1 – The first time you give something it is a surprise and greatly appreciated. However, it is human nature that once we receive something we expect it again.

2 – Incentives can feel like a manipulation similar to punishment. “Do this and you get that!  or do this or this will happen!” In the case of incentives, the gift may be highly desired; but by making it conditional on certain behaviors, the team will feel manipulated. That experience of being manipulated is likely to feel very similar to punishment.

Many of us have received conditional love. Conditional meaning that another person’s love for you, is contingent on certain actions, or things. Do you remember how you felt? It can feel manipulative, controlling and at times even abusive.

3 – Incentives can cause people to focus on the numbers instead of what’s best for the patient. It could even lead to unethical behavior such as unnecessary treatment.

We will be disappointed if we expect incentives to fix problems. Money, gifts, and trips don’t fix problems. It is important to understand the underlying causes and address the specific concerns.

So, what does work? Cultivate a happy, healthy, and high performing culture. Where the number one core value is that the entire team (including doctors) treats each other as well as they treat the patients. A happy, healthy, and high performing culture empowers:

  • Clear core values and consistent leadership
  • Opportunity to grow and learn
  • Value and appreciation towards each other
  • Trust and respect with coworkers and patients
  • Open communication and feedback
  • Recognition and respect for teamwork
  • Positive attitudes
  • Ongoing team building strategies
  • A consistent structured training program
  • A competitive compensation package

It will take commitment from the leadership team to maintain the culture. They are the ones who determine who will be a part of the culture. Anyone whose attitude and behavior does not support the culture values will not be invited to continue to be a part of the culture.

Implement the standards to cultivate a happy, healthy, and high performing culture. You will nurture meaningful relationships and positive lasting change. You won’t need incentives. The money, gifts, or trips you give will truly be a thank you reward with no strings attached!

June 30, 2022

The 5 C’s to Cultivate a Happier, Healthier, & Higher Performing Culture!

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide to help them cultivate a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture.  I have created my Rise & Shine Culture Camps which is a customized practice driven focused training for the entire team.  There are 5 areas that we address to get results.   I happen to like alliteration which is why they all start with the letter C!  The 5 C’s are: Clarity, Compassion, Compromise, Celebration, and Commitment.

I have been invited to present this information and more in a half day program hosted by AADOM at their annual conference. I will offer a morning course and a repeat afternoon session on Wednesday, September 7th, 2022, in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona.  Click on this link https://www.aadomconference.com/ to learn more about this amazing must not miss conference!

The first C is Clarity!  It is vital for the entire team to be aligned in achieving the goals of the practice.  Clarity starts with the owner doctors agreeing on and defining their 4 Core Value words and communicating those words consistently through their words, actions, and attitude.  This is really where it all starts.  If the leadership team is not aligned the rest of the team will not be aligned.  This is the most important C of all as it is the foundation of the practice culture.  Please email me at JudyKay@PracticeSolutionsInc.net to receive a sample Core Value Words.

The second C is Compassion!  There will be ups and downs and obstacles along the way.  It is easy to get along and play nice when everything goes our way.  It is much more difficult when things aren’t working, and expectations aren’t met.  That’s when we often fall into the judgment thinking of should or shouldn’t!  They should have done this, or they shouldn’t have done this etc.…  It is imperative that we stop judging and instead show compassion for our co-workers and patients.  “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” -Earl Nightingale

We often judge others in the areas where we feel the weakest. Instead remain in curiosity mode and stay out of judgment mode.  Judgment shuts us down and divides us.  Most judgments about people are based on incomplete information.  Curiosity, on the other hand, keeps us open to the possibility that there is something about the situation that we don’t fully understand.  Whenever I start to judge people –I ask myself: “I wonder what the situation is with that person?”

We show compassion by trying to be understanding, supportive, and giving the benefit of the doubt.  We achieve this by trying to walk in the other persons’ shoes to understand their B.O.A.T. (beliefs, opinions, assumptions, truths)!  Their why!  The questions I often use is, “Help me understand why…!”

The third C is Compromise!  The team is like a large puzzle that all need to learn how to fit together.  There will be different B.0.A.T.’s amongst the team.  It is important to compromise to work well together.  It is not just the new team members that need to learn how to fit in.  The existing team members need to learn how to fit with the new team members.  The puzzle changes each time there is a change in team members.  There is more than one way!  We need to compromise and create our new way 😊!   Someone unwilling to compromise is in essence saying they are unwilling to be a team player.  If they are unwilling to be a team player, they can’t be a part of the team.  It is both a difficult and simple concept to act on.

The fourths C is Celebration!  Look for what is positive and celebrate it every day.  The more we focus on what is positive the more positive we will create.  Don’t get lost in the muck of the mundane tasks.  Instead, consider the bigger picture.  We are changing people’s lives with better function and aesthetics.  The smile is the number one connector.  Our focus creates our attitude.  Look for things to celebrate in each other and each situation.  Focus on the good and we will find more in each day.  What we look for we will see!

The fifth C is Commitment!  Stuff doesn’t just happen.  It takes focus and work.  Everyone on the team is accountable to support the practice standards.  There can be no individual opt outs.  The team is like a group of fire fighters holding a net that supports the practice standards.  If someone opts out, they are in essence taking their hands of the net.  There are consequences to every action or inaction.  The consequence becomes a culture by default instead of by design when we don’t address unsupportive behavior.   We need to commit as a team to support the practice standards in every word, action, and attitude.  We will then cultivate a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture!

Come join me Wednesday, September 7th, 2022, in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona at AADOM’s Annual Conference to dive deeper into the 5 C’s to Cultivate a Happier, Healthier, and Higher Performing Culture!  Click on this link https://www.aadomconference.com/  to learn more about this amazing must not miss conference!

 

June 1, 2022

Co-leadership! How to lead Successfully!

What is co-leadership? Co-leadership is two or more people in charge of a team or group. They share ownership of the goals of their team but divide the roles and responsibilities.  Co-leadership has many benefits when utilized correctly.  The downside is the more leaders the more complex it becomes.

Co-leadership in a dental office may include doctors, practice administrator, team leads or any team member in a leadership position depending on the size of the practice.

Everything begins and ends with leadership.  It is what leaders do, don’t do, or allow in their culture that defines the practice culture.  The more leaders the more difficult it becomes to create and sustain a consistent message.  Here are 5 principles to build an aligned and cohesive co-leadership team.

The first co-leadership principle – It is necessary to have an aligned vision for the future of the practice/company.  I start the process by having the owner doctors choose 4 core value words and place them in order of priority.  All future decisions are based on supporting those values.  Everyone on the leadership team must live and lead those core values in words, actions, and attitudes.  Apply these core values when making decisions by using the following questions.

  • What’s in the best interests of the patients, practice, and team that supports our core values? (Specialists also add referring doctors) It can never just benefit one individual.
  • Is it practical based on time, money, and people that will still support the core values?
  • Does the precedent we are setting support our core values?
  • How passionate are we to implement change? It must be a value of 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high.

The breakdown happens when a leader decides to opt out of something they don’t agree with entirely.  It can never be 100% our way unless we work by ourselves.  It is healthy for leaders to discuss and debate behind closed doors.  However, they must come to an agreement and support that agreement in front of the team.  There will be times leaders need to support decisions even without consensus.  I often hear, “I am the doctor, I can do what I want!”  Yes, you can but not without consequences.  If leaders do not support each other, they will create division in the team and the leadership team.  Division leads to confusion, gossip, clicks and lack of accountability.  The team will choose the path of least resistance.  The bottom line is that when you have a co-leader you no longer have autonomy to make decisions.  On a side note, doctors supporting your practice administrator doesn’t mean saying do whatever you want.  It means being involved in the decision and solution process.  Practice Administrators you will become very frustrated and overwhelmed if you want more for the practice than the owner doctors.  Which is why it is so important that you are aligned with the owner doctors’ vision for the practice.

The second co-leadership principle – It is important to place people in the leadership role that shines the light on their strengths and dims their weakness.  No one is perfect.  We all have strengths as well as weaknesses.  We are only as strong as our weakest link.  Any weakness in your co-leaders will be a reflection on the entire leadership team.  Define the specific tasks for each role.  Leaders are responsible for the individual tasks of their role.  Each task must be owned by that one person to create accountability.  The more people responsible for the same task the less accountability due to assuming the other person is doing the task.  Some leaders find it difficult to let go and to not be involved in all tasks.  We must trust our co-leader to be accountable.  Be open to renegotiating your roles based on changing circumstances, growth, and ambitions.

The third co-leadership principle – Owner doctors and practice administrator(s) must make time to meet on a weekly basis.  (I refer to these specific leadership team members as the We Team) This allows for real time conversations to discuss and come to a resolution as a leadership team.  All decisions must be discussed at this meeting before implementing except for direct patient care.  Document discussion and agreements and save in a meeting journal.  Review last week’s meeting notes and confirm if all assigned tasks have been completed.  The meeting will create accountability as well as keep everyone in the loop.  Schedule the weekly meeting the same time and day of each week.  The time is reserved and is to be considered sacred.  I can hear all the excuses already.  However, it is necessary to commit to a weekly meeting if you want to co-lead successfully to build and sustain a high performing practice.  It’s time to put your ownership hat on.  Once you make it a priority it will happen.  If you don’t meet at least weekly, you will be spending extra time putting out unnecessary fires and fueling disorder, stress, and discord.

The fourth co-leadership principle – Is don’t break the chain of communication.  Here is a simple flow for chain of communication both up and down.  Please email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net for a multi-location practice communication flow chart.

Owner Doctors

Practice Administrator

Team Leads and Associate Doctors

Team

The practice administrator has a weekly meeting with all team leads where they share the outcome of their We Team meeting.  Team leads are to bring any questions, suggestions, or concerns they have, or their team has for discussion and feedback at this meeting.  The practice administrator will take this information to the We Team meeting to discuss and come to a resolution.  Then back to the next lead team meeting for implementation.  I know this slows things down.  However, the end results are an informed, aligned, and cohesive team.

The fifth co-leadership principle – Expect disagreements and differences of opinions.  What many people refer to as conflict.  If you never disagree chances are someone is not being honest with their opinion.  Let go of ego.  It’s not about you and what you want.  Have a mindset of care and curiosity not judgment and criticism.  We will need to make concessions at times to move forward.

  • Utilize the questions in the first co-leadership principle to come to a decision that supports the core values.
  • Start with what you can agree on and build from there.
  • Define the end result.
  • Discuss in specifics instead of concepts.
  • Come to an agreement and write it down.
  • Support the agreement in words, actions, and attitude.

Implementing the five co-leadership principles will help you build an aligned and cohesive team!

April 1, 2022

Toxic Performers!

The current staffing shortage has created greater opportunities for toxic performers.  Maybe you even have a few!  The toxic performer is the team member who is extremely skilled at their job.  They excel in front of the doctor(s), patients, and anyone else they feel is necessary to keep their status.  They are super performers when they want to be.  That’s the performer part.  However, the toxic side is their other side.  This is the side they save for their unfortunate co-workers or anyone they deem irrelevant.

Some signs of toxic behaviors are:

  • Air of superiority
  • Cynical
  • Closed to feedback
  • Unwilling to train
  • Gossip
  • Excuses
  • Deflection
  • Sarcasm
  • Blame
  • Drama

Evaluate your current team.  Are there any team members that fit the description of a toxic performer?  Here comes the difficult part.  This person is often the right hand of the doctor or manager.  They are highly skilled and high performers.  Therefore, it is extremely difficult to even consider letting them go.  Especially with the fear of finding skilled new team members.  Instead, the toxic behavior is allowed to continue in exchange for the performer side.

I receive the following response when I ask doctors and or managers this question.

“Why do you allow the toxic performer team member to continue to be a part of the team and practice when they are unwilling to support the practice values and our toxic to their co-workers?”

“Judy Kay, you don’t understand.  They are really, really good at what they do.  I don’t have anyone else that can perform at their level.  And it is difficult to find skilled new team members.  But I would let them go if they EVER behaved that way towards the patient.”

Regardless of how good of a performer they are, keeping a toxic performer is disastrous and will sabotage your practice culture.

It only takes one toxic performer to create a culture of chaos and negativity. Toxic performers make it feel unsafe and stressful for their co-workers. The rest of the team is on alert waiting for the toxic performers next sarcastic remark, outburst, or retaliation.  Toxic performers harm the productivity and morale of everyone around them.

  • They purposely hoard information and don’t train others to their level, in fear if they did it might sacrifice their stability.
  • They play the team against each other to divide and conquer.
  • Their unsupportive actions undermine the practice values.
  • The team loses trust and respect for their doctor, manager, and co-workers.
  • The culture has become filled with favoritism and double standards.

A double standard is a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people.  Double standards never work.  The team is just as important as the patients.  Treat your team as well as you treat your patients.  Take care of your team and they will take care of the patients.

Three powerful assessment questions regarding behaviors:

  • Does this behavior support the practice culture values?
  • Would I accept this behavior from another team member?
  • Would I allow this behavior towards a patient?

If you answered no to all three questions…it is time to address the toxic performer’s behavior towards their co-workers.  Ask the toxic performer if they are willing to step up and be supportive of the team and culture values.  Don’t be surprised if the toxic performer makes excuses for their behavior and take it as a personal attack against them.  They will often hold grudges, blame, and complain how they are the victim.  They need to verbally agree, and their behavior change needs to immediate and consistent.  If they don’t agree or if the toxic behavior happens again, invite them to step out and no longer be a part of the team.

Never sacrifice the entire practice culture for one toxic performer regardless of their talent and productivity.  Nor allow a team member to continue to treat their co-workers poorly.  A benchmark I suggest is would you allow that same behavior towards a patient.  You will lose good team members and destroy the practice culture if you allow the toxic performer to continue their toxic behavior.  It may feel very daunting.  However, other dental offices have been in this situation and not only survived but thrived.   They found that once they let the toxic performer go other team members were able to step up.  They were no longer held back by the toxic performer.  Create a culture where the team (including doctors) treats each other as well as they treat their patients and become tremendous performers!

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!

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