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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!

March 1, 2022

TeamWORK!  Takes work! 

TeamWORK!  Takes work!

Teamwork!  A phrase so often used loosely with so many different assumptions of its meaning!

According to BusinessDictionary.com, teamwork is “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal. … Teamwork means that people will try to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict between individuals.”

The team part happens pretty easy.  Once we belong to a group or organization we automatically become a part of the team.  The WORK part of team work is not so easy!  It takes work to build happy, healthy and high performing team relationships.

This article is dedicated to the WORK part of teamwork.  BTW…this message works for your personal relationships as well.

I have spent years helping teams create a happier, healthier, and higher performing relationships.  Successful team relationships don’t just happen by accident.  They take work just like every relationship.  Yet the assumption is that we should all just naturally get along.

 

 

Communication is the first core fundamental in teamwork. It would be very difficult to work together as a team for a common purpose without it! The right hand would never know what the left hand was doing nor what was needed or expected. The team’s success would be limited to only what each person could accomplish individually.

It is important for the team to create standards on how the team would like to communicate with each other and patients to build successful relationships. The work part is the ongoing focus and commitment to support the standards even when we may not feel like it.

Successful team communication includes:

  • Communicate Clearly – Clarify expectations by defining who, what, when, where, why and how.
  • Communicate Positively – Smile at each other and speak in a warm and friendly tone.
  • Avoid negative sarcasm and gossip.  Go directly to the source.
  • Communicate Respectfully – 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
  • Communicate Professionally – Use words such as yes, no, please and thank you.
  • Be mindful of your energy and filter your response.
  • Communication is 7% words, 55% body language and 38% tone of voice. Never approach another team member with anger or frustration on you will shut down communication.
  • Communicate and resolve conflict within 24 hours if possible to lessen frustration and assumptions from building.

Collaboration is the second core fundamental needed to enable the team to successfully work together. It is important to remember that there is more than one way (our way) to do things.  It is our responsibility as a team member to work well with our coworkers. We can make it easy for others to work with us.  Collaboration means:

  • Sharing thoughts and ideas about what works and what does not.
  • Being open (think outside the box creativity) and willing to listen to new and different ideas from others.
  • Agreeing on a solution that serves the best interests of the patients, practice, and team instead of any individual.
  • Continue to be flexible and to adjust until you succeed
  • Don’t take things personal.
  • Support your team members. Ask and offer help.

Celebration is the third core fundamental to successful teamwork. It is important to celebrate daily. Even the little things. If our focus is always on the next patient or task we will miss the good in the present moment and eventually we will lose our joy for our work.

Celebrate by:

  • Looking for and becoming aware of what is positive in the present moment. Right here right now what is good?
  • Being grateful for what is instead of complaining about what isn’t.
  • Showing appreciation to your coworkers and your patients.
  • Celebrating in the moment with a physical gesture for example a big smile, thumbs up, high five or even a Ta-Dah!

Implementing these three core fundamentals will empower your team to WORK together to build happy, healthy and high performing team relationships.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

January 1, 2021

Leave Your C.R.A.P. at the Door!

Leave Your C.R.A.P. at The Door!

Happy New Year!  Usually, I like to start the year focusing on how to improve and grow.  I don’t know about you, but I would be thrilled with just getting back to the old norm in 2021!  The pandemic was like a remote control that put us on pause and now it is time to hit play!

The uncertainty of the pandemic, election, shutdowns, etc.…the list goes on and on has been an enormous weight we have all carried.  Which over time lowers our level of tolerance and heightens our level of insensitivity.  The media including social media has played an enormous role in fueling negativity.  So many people with keyboard courage.  Strike that; keyboard cowardice.

We continuously hear our politicians talking about uniting and becoming one again.  Yet bipartisan behaviors continue to happen on both sides.  I remember my dad, Clem Miller, chiding me about being to pro for one party.  He believed you must take everything you hear regarding politicians with a grain of salt.  Truths are manipulated in both parties.  He simplified it by comparing Democrats and Republicans to the Looney Tunes characters, Ralph the wolf and Sam the sheep dog.  They would fight each other all day long.  However, once they clocked out for the day, they would go back to being friends.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VYtiyjqx7E

We can’t control what others do but we can control what we do.  Our actions will determine our outcome.  It is time to leave the 2020 C.R.A.P. at the door and move on to a more positive and prosperous 2021!

C.R.A.P. is an acronym for:

  • Criticism
  • Rudeness
  • Assumptions
  • Problems

 

Criticism – The dictionary defines criticism as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.  We have the right to have our own opinion and so does everyone else.  Make a commitment to start 2021 with respecting other people’s opinions.  We show respect by listening openly to understand and even consider their point of view.  Start out the conversation by focusing on what you do agree on.  Be mindful of your words, tone, body language and energy.  Our words make up only 7% of how others perceive us.  Body language is 55% and tone of voice is 38%.  When you approach someone come with an energy and mindset of care and curiosity versus judgment and blame.

Rudeness – The dictionary defines rudeness as behaving inconsiderately, aggressively or deliberately offensively.  Consider how your words, body language and tone can convey perceptions of rude behaviors.  Be polite by being thoughtful of the other person’s feelings.  Simple words, please and thank you are powerful.  Ask questions to understand and acknowledge responses.  Before speaking always ask yourself, how can I say what I need to say while still respecting how I make the other person feel.  Avoid flippant sarcastic remarks like whatever which lessen the seriousness.  Address mistakes with kindness and compassion.  Body language such as rolling of the eyes or frustrating sighs are dismissive actions.  Curse words and name calling are offensive and never ever appropriate.

I love to use the acronym T.H.I.N.K. as my filter before I speak.  It helps me communicate positively and effectively and avoid conversations that require and apology later.

  • T- is it true
  • H – is it helpful
  • I – is it inspiring
  • N – is it necessary
  • K – is it kind

Assumptions – The dictionary defines assumption as a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.  False assumptions run rampant and are most often negative.  Here is a three-letter word that will resolve assumptions…ASK! Stop assuming and ask questions to understand.  When you get that twinge in your gut and you think… “Hmmm…I wonder what they meant by that?” or you find yourself saying “I think they meant this” – you don’t know! Stop yourself immediately from wondering and speculating, go directly to the person and ASK! You will be surprised how many of your assumptions are incorrect after you hear their response.

Problems – The dictionary defines problem as a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.  95% are redundant…the same thought we had yesterday is the same as today and tomorrow.  80% are negative unless we are mindful.  Negative thinking can often make a mountain out of a mole hill.  Many of our problems our self-induced by the words we use to describe a situation or person.  Words that label such as hard, difficult, and stressful generate those same emotions.  For example, we review the schedule at the morning huddle and say it’s going to be difficult and stressful day.  We will look for things to reinforce our beliefs and it will become a difficult and stressful day.  Instead use the word interesting to describe a person or situation.  Interesting is a neutral word.  Be a creator of your day and replace negative problem thoughts with positive actions that resolve the problem.  Leave your C.R.A.P. at the door and make 2021 your best year yet!

November 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

Last month we focused on the first three steps to thrive as the new kid on the block.  They were building confident trust relationships, learning systems and processes, and balancing your role as the associate.

The fourth step in fitting in is by avoiding gossip.  Gossip is sharing anything that is negative or private about another person.  Listening is gossiping if you are not in a position that allows you to resolve the issue.  The listener plays a 50/50 role.  Because it stops if the person complaining has no one to tell.  I have found it works best to refer the person back to the source of concern to work it out instead of listening.  Instead of listening ask them if they have tried to talk to the other person.  If they say no, ask them to do so and stop the conversation.

People who engage in workplace gossip often have a strong need to “fit in” and feel that gossip will help them achieve this. Gossipers often suffer from low self-esteem and think that talking negatively about others will make them look better. If we truly grasped the devastating fallout from gossip, we would no longer accept it as the norm for any culture!

Gossip affects:

*             Patient care and experience

*             Team communication, performance, and relationships

*             Practice performance

*             Morale

*             Trust

*             Respect

 

The fifth step to fitting is to be approachable.  Do daily or weekly check ins with your team and owner doctor.  A simple question to ask, “Do you have any questions or suggestions for me?”   Avoid becoming defensive even if you disagree or feel hurt.  People will avoid defensive people.  You have a role as an approachee (the receiver of information).

The Approachee’s role is to start out by thanking the approacher (the person approaching) for respecting you enough to come to you. It is important to recognize that the approacher’s intent is good and to realize that it is not easy to approach someone.

Listen intently to hear.  Make eye contact with the other person.  Don’t take offense.  Instead of defending, deflecting, or blaming someone else consider how your actions or lack of actions affected the outcome.   Be honest with your response.

Acknowledge you heard and understand them.  Never assume.  If you are unsure ask questions until you clearly understand.  If you are thinking I think they mean this…ask more questions.

Don’t take it personal.  If the concern pertains to the patients, the practice, or the team it is necessary to address.  It can be difficult to hear when we are not meeting the standards or expectations.  However, it is necessary to address in order to create and sustain a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

Take it seriously.  It may not seem important or be a priority to you, but it is for the other person.

Control your emotions.  If you are upset don’t just walk off in anger or frustration.  Instead, let them know that you need a little time to process the information they shared, and you will respond later and give them a specific time.  Try respond within 24 hours.

I like love to utilize the L.E.A.R.N. acronym when being approached.

  • Listen intently to hear what they have to say
  • Empathize by acknowledging their emotions
  • Apologize for the situation
  • React by sharing what you will do
  • Notify those that need to be aware of the discussion and decision

Here is an example how you can use L.E.A.R.N.  Your assistant is frustrated because she just started working with you and doesn’t understand what instruments you want and when.  It makes her uncomfortable because she has been an assistant for years and this makes her feels inadequate.  The conversation might sound like this.

“Thank you for respecting me enough to come to me with your concerns.  I can understand how uncomfortable this must be to work with a new doctor.  I am sorry that this is frustrating for you.  We will take some time to discuss what instruments I need with the different treatments we offer.  During the procedure I will ask for what I need.  We need to learn how to work together and that takes time.  So, let’s agree to have patience and support each other.  I will make sure I speak with the other assistants about tray setups as well to keep us all on the same page.  This will ensure that we all have a great day!” 

Instead of constructive criticism (which is an oxymoron) use positive verbiage and have a constructive conversation.

Following these five steps will help you thrive as the new kid on the block!

October 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 1

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 1

Congratulations your the new kid on the block!  You are a recent dental graduate who just got hired as the new associate to work with Dr Wonderful and her team!  It’s your first glorious day!  You are ready to take on the world and deliver exceptional service and care.  Oh, but wait a minute.  There are these people you now must rely on…called your team!  There was no mention of team relationships.  No one told you in school that you were going to be dependent a team.  You were just planning on focusing on dentistry.  Surprise!  That’s not how it works.  The success of a practice is largely based on how well you work together as a team.  So how do you build happy, healthy, and high performing relationship with an existing team.  Some of who you may have not hired in the first place.

It is important to remember that you are the outsider coming into their world.  It’s like being the new kid on the block.  You must figure out how to fit in with the existing team culture.  Fitting in takes time and patience.  The team is going to check you out because they don’t know you or trust you.  They will be watching your every move to see if you will fit in.

The first step to fitting in is to focus on building confident trust relationships with each team member.  The dictionary defines trust as instinctive unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something.  The trust I am suggesting is not one of blind faith but instead one of confidence!  Confident trust is based on consistency!   Consistency of good reasons to trust based on significant past evidence and experiences.

Think of the people in your life that you confidently trust.  Take a moment to reflect why you feel confident in trusting them.  Confident trust does not just happen overnight.  It takes time to nurture and grow.  However, breaking one’s trust can happen in a heartbeat.  The great news is that trust can be rebuilt.  It takes a sincere daily commitment to be transparent, consistent and realistic.  An actionable and measurable process is to assess your every action, attitude, and conversation by checking off the following list.

*             Am I being transparent

*             Am I being consistent

*             Am I being realistic

*             Am I doing what I said I would do when I said I would do it

 

Some examples of behaviors that build confident trust are:

 

*             Be transparent by keeping the team in the loop

*             Be consistent with daily tasks

*             If you have a concern talk to the person

*             Help when you see help is needed

*             Ask for help when help is needed

*             Ask don’t assume

*             Take ownership – do what you say you will do when you say you will

*             Focus on the greater good instead of WIIFM (What’s in it for me)

*             Don’t gossip

*             Tell the truth and be compassionate

*             Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

 

The second step to fitting in is to learn the current systems and processes.  Spend time talking with the doctor and each team member to learn why they do what they do.  For at least the first 90 days immerse yourself in learning their ways instead of making suggestions.  It will give you time to build trust while you learn.  The team is often suspicious of the new doctor.  They are afraid the new doctor is going to want to change everything.  After all you’re the new kid on the block…you should have to fit into their practice.  Many team members may be older than you.  Show them you respect their experience and expertise by being open to their guidance.

Once you start making suggestions remember that the team may like to do things their way.  Even if it may not be the most effective or efficient.  It’s their routine and they can do it on auto pilot.  Which is why your suggestions may be resisted even if it is an improvement.  New changes slow them down and take more focus and effort.  Don’t firehose the team with suggestions or requests.  Start with a simple change that will be easy to do and benefit them greatly.  They will see it as a positive and be more open to the next change.

 

The third step to fitting in is balancing your role as an associate.  You may feel like you are in the middle, torn between the owner doctor(s) and the team.   You are doctor and a leader.  Yet you don’t make the decisions.  Some decisions you may be more aligned with the team than you are the owner doctor.  The team may treat you like one of them and even tell you negative things about the owner doctor.  The owner doctor may complain to you about their team.  It is imperative that you not allow yourself to get stuck in the middle.  Always reinforce what is positive about the other person.  You may not always agree on every decision.  However, it is imperative that you support the owner doctor decisions in attitude and actions, or you will undermine them.  It is easy to judge when you have never walked in someone’s shoes.  It always looks easier when you are observing.  Leading a team and making the right decisions can be very difficult at times.  There are often many paths that can be chosen.

Tune in next month for the 4th and 5th step to thrive as the new kid or for that matter any team member in the practice!

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