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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!

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!

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