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June 1, 2023

Get Happier! Part 1

Get happy!  Fame, money, stuff, or even other people can’t make us happy.  Just look at all the famous and wealthy people who are miserable.  Happiness doesn’t have anything to do with what we have, where we’ve been, or who we are. Happiness comes from within.  We are happy when we choose to be happy.  We have a choice:  to enjoy our lives or to find fault.  We truly do write our own stories of happiness.

“Every moment you make a choice of what you want to keep, and what you want to let go of…and that’s how you write your story!” ~ Judy Kay Mausolf

Here are the first two of four strategies to get happier!

Focus Power!

We get happier when we change our focus to positive.  You can be happy even when life seems difficult.  Here is the big secret about staying happy and positive in difficult times.  It does not take any superpowers or anything special.  It is simply a clear understanding of the power of focus.

“Our focus creates our attitude.” ~ Judy Kay Mausolf

Our attitude is a learned behavior.  Having a positive attitude is a skill.  If you focus on the positive, you will have a positive attitude.  If you focus on the negative, you will have a negative attitude.  When you hear people say they are in a bad mood, it is because they choose to linger in the negative emotions.  The physical part of any emotion only lasts thirty seconds or less.  Any emotion after thirty seconds comes from hanging on to the emotion.   Woe is me people, or what I refer to as wallowers, choose to be victims of their emotions.  They wallow in them like a mud bath and tell everyone how miserable they are in hopes of eliciting sympathy.  They actually enjoy the drama and negative emotions.

The science behind the thirty seconds of emotion pertains to fight or flight.  Our immediate responses to negative or positive emotional stimuli are the result of a chemical reaction in our brains.  Responses such as a rush of adrenaline lump in our throats, being out of breath, a dry mouth, sweat running down our backs, faces turning red, nervous laughter, flailing, and kicking, and tears welling up in our eyes – these responses happen in the first five seconds.  In the next 25 seconds, we battle to take control of our bodies.  It is best not to suppress nor deny the emotion, but to let ourselves feel it, observe the physical effect on us, mentally step aside from it, and let it go.

We can choose not to be negative, angry, hurt, stressed, frustrated, grumpy or whatever.  It is always our choice.  Instead, focus on finding a solution and a reason to be happy and feel good in every situation.

Action Plan – Focus Power:

Here are action steps to achieve Focus Power:

  • Whenever you feel stressed and, in the fight, or flight zone, breathe deeply and count to ten, slowly for thirty seconds.
  • Feel and observe the physical reaction and then let it go.
  • Identify three positives in the situation. Even in the most horrific circumstances there are positives.
  • Shift your focus from what is negative or missing to what is positive and present.
  • Spend 10% of your time focused on the problem and 90% on the solution.

Choice Power

We get happier when we choose to be happier.  Have you ever thought, “I was in great mood until “___________” happened”?  When we allow “___________” (whatever the blank is at the moment) to affect how we feel, we are in essence relinquishing our power and allowing circumstances to control our emotions.  If we allow our circumstances to control our emotions, we become a victim of our circumstances.  The truth is that circumstances don’t dictate how we feel – we do!  It is always our choice!

“Happiness is always our choice!” ~ Judy Kay Mausolf

Action Plan ~ Choice Power

  • Wake up.
  • Affirm it is going to be an awesome day.
  • Choose to be positive regardless of how you feel.
  • Choose words and actions that have a positive impact.

Implement the first two strategies and you will get happier!  Tune in next month to learn the about strategy three and four to get happier!

May 1, 2023

Stop Walking On Eggshells!

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide to help them co-create a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture.  There are so many moving parts in a routine dental practice’s day. The schedule, among other things, doesn’t always happen as planned.  There are even some days when it feels as if the wheels may have fallen off.  We need to as a team be able openly discuss what is working and what is not.  The obstacles are the eggshells that get in the way.

What are eggshells?  Eggshells are the fragile feelings that arise when we try to resolve a conflict with another.  These fragile feelings are a result of what we perceive based on our past personal experiences and not necessarily the other person’s intent.  Some of the fragile feelings I am referring to are fear, anger, judgment, retaliation, desire to be liked, insecurity, nothing changes, peer pressure, hurt feelings, disrespect, it’s not nice, or it’s not my problem.

These eggshells stop many of us from addressing the elephants (the unstated issues or concerns) in the room.  We create barriers between each other by laying our eggshells all around ourselves and worrying about stepping on those that others have laid around themselves.  We believe if we talk about what is not working or what is a problem or a concern we will step on their eggshells.  Almost everything becomes too uncomfortable or off-limits to discuss.  So, we don’t!  Instead, we just keep everything inside to avoid the eggshells and the practice culture deteriorates.  The chance to make good things happen, (better results, better relationships, and more responsibility) disappears.  What appears instead is a herd of elephants.  Everyone knows they are there and yet no one will talk about them for fear of stepping on an eggshell.

The problem is, if we don’t discuss the issues as they happen, they don’t go away.  Instead, the issues become elephants and the herd continues to grow until it takes over the entire practice.  We end up tiptoeing around each other’s eggshells and pretending the elephants don’t exist.  Or gossip grows out of frustration.  Communication between team members becomes emotionally charged.  The conflicts continue to grow; resolution becomes almost impossible.  The practice culture becomes stressful and negative.  This emotional stress and negative environment can drive even the best of team members to leave the practice!

To overcome the eggshells, we need to first acknowledge they exist.  Have a team meeting to talk about the eggshells in the office.  Have each team member identify which eggshells they surround themselves with most often.  I recently held a team meeting where each team member identified their eggshells.  There was a variety of answers; desire to be liked, hurt feelings, judgment, criticism, retaliation, and nothing ever changes.  They differ for each team member because of their past experiences.

Once the eggshells have been identified, discuss the importance of talking about issues as they happen regardless of their existence.  This proactive communication helps to prevent and remove the elephants from the room.  Reinforce the message; we are all working together towards the same goal of a healthy, happy, and high performing practice culture.  To accomplish this, we must give each other a break and believe that our other team members’ intents are good.  We need to talk about the issues even if talking about issues creates eggshells like hurt feelings, judgment, or criticism.

We need to stop assuming we know what someone meant by their actions or words or the way they said something.  Sometimes even what they say or the words they use can mean something different than what we believe them to mean.  Approach with care and concern to help relieve tension and avoid defensiveness.  Respectfully ask questions until you understand the other person’s true intent.  Here are two questions I recommend based on issue.

  • I am not quite sure what you mean, please tell me more.
  • I am not quite sure what happened, please tell me more.

Once we understand each other’s intent our trust grows, and it becomes easier to talk about the issues and resolve conflict.  Resolving conflict as it occurs will help to prevent elephants and promote a happy, healthy, high performing team environment.

Be a good egg; approach and be approachable!

March 1, 2023

How to Have Difficult Conversations – Approacher-Approahcee

There are hundreds of moving parts in the day-to-day activities of a dental practice.  Stuff happens even in the most successful practices.  It is vital that the entire team is empowered to discuss and resolve issues.  However, the fear of confrontation and conflict can often prevent many team members from having necessary difficult conversations.  Avoiding the short-term discomfort of having difficult conversations often causes long term dysfunction.  When we don’t address issues as they happen, they will spiral out of control.  We have all experienced something little grow into something big.

It’s time to have the difficult conversations to sustain a happier, healthier, and higher performing service culture.   The conversation includes two roles.  The Approacher(s) and Approachee(s).  The Approacher(s) is the person conveying and inquiring and the Approachee it the person receiving and responding.

 

The Approacher’s Role

A difficult conversation is always in private and starts with positive communication from the Approacher.  The Approacher shares what they appreciate about the other person.  They build up instead of tear down by focusing on the other person’s strengths.  A positive conversation has a minimum of a three to one ratio.  Three positives for every one growth opportunity.  Research shows that exceptional relationships have a five to one ratio.  You may be thinking; what if I can’t find 5 positives.  Every person has a least 5 strengths you can highlight!  We will discover their strengths when we shift our focus from their weaknesses to their strengths.  How ironic that our strengths are just taken for granted and minimized whereas our weaknesses are highlighted.

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,” 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.

Keep your energy neutral and come with a mindset of care, curiosity, and concern instead of judgment and criticism.  Never have a conversation when you are angry or frustrated or your emotions will rule the conversation.  Instead take a few minutes to process and get calm. Start out by making eye contact with the other person.  Be mindful of tone and body language as well as words. A tone of care and concern communicates a sense of importance and provides the appropriate level of sincerity to the conversation.  Avoid using sarcasm or derogatory words or the content of the conversation will get lost in the harshness. Once you say something it cannot be taken back. An apology doesn’t mean we forget.  The old nursery rhyme that goes sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, is not true.  Words can destroy even the best of relationships.

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.

Be timely!  Try to address issues/concerns as they happen or within 24 hours of the occurrence. I have actually seen employers make a list of everything an employee has done wrong or needs to improve on for the year and go over it at their annual review.  It reminds me of Santa Claus’s naughty list!   It’s no wonder why reviews get a bad rap!

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.

 

The Approachee’s Role

The aproachee is to start out by just listening and not taking offense.  The team must be able to talk about what’s not working to resolve issues.  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 before responding.  Make eye contact with the other person.  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 issue 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 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 that day.  Try respond within 24 hours.

If you are on the receiving end of anger or frustration, ask the person if they are okay.  This is their cue to reset their energy to calm and neutral.  A response of frustration, sigh or rolling of the eyes, may actually be inward focused and yet can feel directed outward.  If you are feeling attacked or uncomfortable let them know.  For example, you seem frustrated or angry is that directed towards me.

Share what you need (communication, support, training, practice) to be able achieve the desired results.  Together discuss and agree on a solution and make a commitment.

Have the difficult conversations to sustain a happier, healthier, and higher performing service culture!

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!

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!

 

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!