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June 1, 2019

Is Your Practice Out of W.A.C.K.? Get Aligned! Part 2

In Part 1 of “Is Your Practice Out of W.A.C.K.? Get Aligned!” we defined the 3 levels of performers and top 6 stressors that reduce engaged rowers into lazy riders or disrupting resisters. In Part 2 we will illustrate the acronym W.A.C.K. to re-align, re-engage and re-ignite your culture!

W.A.C.K. is an acronym for:

  • We Team
  • ABC Standards
  • Core Values
  • Kudos Culture

The W is for We Team. The We Team is made up of all owner/partner doctor(s) as well as the practice administrator. I suggest We Team’s schedule weekly We Team meetings. The practice administrator becomes the designated point of entry where the team brings all questions, requests or concerns. They are to share the questions, requests or concerns at the We Team Meeting. The We Team discusses and come to a decision or solution. The practice administrator shares the We Team decision or solution with the team member(s).

The A is for ABC Standards. ABC standards are standards for attitude, behavior and communication. Creating ABC Standards together as a team will help align the team and cultivate a service culture that is happier, healthier and higher performing! ABC Standards increase clarity, unity, accountability, consistency, level of service, and your business reputation; while preventing the chafing and disagreements from assumptions and opinions of who is right and wrong.

Have a team meeting with the entire team to discuss ABC Standards for your practice. Ask each team member to share what they feel they need from each other to be able to work together better. I find using a big easel pad with markers to write down the responses helps to generate more participation.   Be specific and define what it means in words, actions, body language and tone of voice.

The C is for Core Values.   Doctors it’s very difficult to get your team aligned if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for.   What 4 words in order of priority describe your core values for your practice? Would other people be able to recognize those values in your practice? For example, my 4 core words in order of priority are: Lifter, Authentic, Happy, and Committed. Doctors if you don’t know what yours are stop reading and take some time to reflect. They are important to know because they will help guide your team in their decision making to align with your goals and objectives. Core values become a blue print on how to live and work together. Every action or attitude is to be examined before proceeding. Does this action or attitude support the core values of the practice?   Which takes us to the fourth fundamental.

The K is for Kudos Culture. A Kudos Culture is showing appreciation to nurture value and purpose. Value and purpose are what reignite people!   It starts with the entire team knowing and be aware of what is good and right in their practice.  We often see what’s negative and wrong with each other.  Instead, focus on what is good and right and verbally reward those behaviors with statements such as “I am proud of you”, “Great job”, “Way to go” or even a simple “thank you”, or “kudos”.  In a very short time, everyone will begin to feel recognized, important, and cared about because they know they are being seen and praised on a daily basis.  I love this kudos stuff because it really works.  It only takes one person to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  The person could be you!  You don’t need permission to start.  Just reward what is good and right such as good moods, good attitudes, uplifting mindsets, even just a smile.  I’m not talking about sappy, disingenuous gushing!  I’m talking about simple, heart-felt appreciation. Show appreciation for other team members’ attitude, actions or behaviors by implementing following steps:

  • Show your appreciation as immediately as possible after the event or action you want to point out and reinforce.
  • Be specific. Avoid general clichés and statements.
  • Mention how the action or behavior was personally helpful or supports the team vision, values, and purpose.
  • Keep it brief. Long, detailed compliments can be uncomfortable and sound fake.
  • BE GENUINE!  This isn’t about being insincere to manipulate others.
  • Ask if there’s anything you can do to provide further support or service to that person or team.

You will be surprised how quickly appreciation fires up the team! Implement the four WA.C.K. Fundamentals in your practice and re-align, re-engage and re-ignite your team!

Email Judy Kay at JudyKay@PracticeSolutionsInc.net to receive your copy of Appreciation & Celebration. Type in Appreciation & Celebration in the subject line.

May 1, 2019

Is Your Practice Out of W.A.C.K.? Get Aligned! Part 1

Imagine what would happen to your practice if your team was happier, more cohesive, and performing at a higher level? Please continue reading, Is Your Practice Out of W.A.C.K.? Get Aligned! Part 1 if I have peaked your interest!

I have the privilege of helping dental teams co-create a happier, healthier and higher performing culture. I have found the key is getting the team aligned with core values and collectively working together to achieve practice objectives.

When I think of getting aligned I can’t help but think of chiropractors. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments to align their patients’ musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine to enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication.

Doctors and managers, having you team personally aligned to your core values and working together to achieve your objectives will enable the culture to heal itself from negativity, stress, low morale and poor performance.

The upside of getting aligned creates enormous benefits, not only in terms of implementation, but also in terms of sustainability, teamwork, attitude, accountability, training and performance!

Getting your team aligned starts with understanding and identifying the three levels of performers. The three levels are rowers, riders and resisters!

Rowers are the high performers we strive for the entire team to be! The average team has 30% rowers. These people are engaged, happy and passionate. They love coming to work and can’t wait to tell everyone they meet about their awesome doctor(s), team and office! They are connected, loyal and proud and are your best walking bill board for the practice. They are excited to learn new things and embrace growth. They have big picture-long term focus. Rowers measure their success by the long term success of the patients, practice and team. The goal is to keep them engaged and rowing!

Riders are the biggest group of performers and make up 52% of an average team. They are not engaged but difficult to spot. They do show up every day but lack passion. Their job is just a paycheck. Riders do not take initiative instead they do the bare minimum to get by. Good enough is their motto. You will find Riders distracted with lunch, after work plans and their cell phone. Anything is more interesting than work. The goal is to help Riders rise to Rowers.

Resisters make up 18% of an average team. You know who the resisters are because they demonstrate their unhappiness on a daily basis. They enjoy making others miserable as well. They always have issues with everything and everybody. 80% of management time is spent listening to resisters whine and complain. Resisters fight change and resist growth and are unwilling to help others. You will often here them say things like; “they should be able to do it…I shouldn’t have to help them!” The most negative trait of a resister is they sabotage and undermine their engaged co-workers. The goal is to get them off your bus as soon as possible. Very few resisters ever become even a rider.

So what happened that your practice ended up with riders and resisters on the team? I assume that you didn’t run an ad asking for riders and resisters to apply and then hired them. Most likely you hired rowers who were engaged people that became disengaged over time. So what made them disengage? Stress is the leading cause of the disengagement that converts rowers to riders or resisters!

The top 6 stressors in a dental practice!

  • Lack of training
  • Schedule is a nightmare
  • Working at Mach 10 speed limit
  • Kicking the dog – blaming each other
  • Lack of appreciation and value
  • No foreseeable change

We can reengage our team by removing or reducing the top 6 stressors in our practice. Please email me at JudyKay@PracticeSolutionsInc.net to receive a copy of the Top 6 Stressors. Tune in next month to learn how to re-align, re-engage and re-ignite your culture by implementing the acronym W.A.C.K.!

April 1, 2019

Managing Micromanaging! Part 2

In Managing Micromanaging! Part 1 we covered the four signs of a micromanager and why someone becomes a micromanager. This blog’s message is focused on how we can help a micromanager lessen micromanaging.

The first thing we can do to help a micromanager is to try to understand and try to ease their concerns. The best way to do that is to an ongoing clear communication. I suggest weekly updates or what I refer to as FYI check-ins. Give detailed progress notes so the micromanager is kept in the loop of the progress and current status. The key to building trust with the micromanager is consistency. Always do what you said, when you said and how you said you would do it!

Principles to Remember

Do:

  • Do everything you can to gain the micromanager’s trust
  • Know what motivates and worries them and try to ease their concerns
  • Provide regular and detailed updates so the micromanager is kept in the loop of your progress

“Success is the ability to lay your head on your pillow at night your integrity uncompromised!”~ Tanja Diamond

Here are some Be’s to build trust to help minimize micromanaging?

  • Be Clear!
  • Ask questions
  • Be specific
  • Take concepts to measurable action steps
  • The following questions can help create clarity:
  • What specifically do you want me to do
  • When exactly do you need this by
  • How specifically do you want it done
  • How do you want me to keep you up-to-date on the progress
  • Where do you want me to do this…if pertinent
  • What else do I need to know to do this right

Be Realistic!

  • Avoid OCD-over committers disease
  • Ask yourself – based on what is on my plate can I realistically complete the task in the time allotted
  • Under promise and over deliver
  • You may be able to do anything but you can’t do everything

Be Reliable

  • Do what you said when you said and how you said you would do it
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Inform when you can complete
  • FYI and keep others in the loop

The first step in changing micromanagement behaviors in ourselves and others is being aware and understanding their impact! We can conquer controlling tendencies by focusing on our actions and reactions!

Please join me when I present Managing Micromanaging at AADOM Annual Conference in beautiful Orlando, Florida on July 19, 2019!  Click on this link www.dentalmanagers.com and use code JKM.  Please contact Judy Kay at Judykay@PracticeSolutionsInc.net  if you would like to speak with her to learn more about how she can help you cultivate a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

January 29, 2019

Building a Brand That Builds Loyalty!

Building a Brand That Builds Loyalty!  Our dental-care will evolve more in the next 20 years than in the previous 50. On the horizon is a bright and exciting future…with the qualifier…that we must be willing to embrace growth and change. This change involves a high-touch, high service, and high care patient experience…not just fixing teeth! It means building a brand that builds loyalty!

There is a buzz of fear in the dental industry. Many dental teams fear they are going to lose their existing patients to new doctors, group practices and corporate dentistry. The truth is patients who are happy with their dental office seldom leave. We lose existing patients only when we haven’t created enough of an experience to build loyalty. There are two exceptions…the patient has relocated…or they only came to your office initially because you were a participating provider of their insurance and are no longer. AND they only, only, only, only…did I say only…care about insurance coverage.

Happy patients as a rule our loyal patients. If we want our patients to be happy it is important to consistently deliver a good experience from the start. Notice I said good not exceptional. The ironic part is the patient’s experience doesn’t have to be exceptional. Patients are happy with consistently good. Consistency reinforces expectations. When the patient’s expectations are being met they are happy and loyal. Consistency builds loyalty and trust…it builds a brand!

A brand is who we are; who we say you are; and what our patients experience consistently. It must be all three. It is in essence our reputation. It’s the 2 or 3 adjectives our patients use to describe our office…friendly, awesome, caring, high-tech, always late, always upsell. What do your patients say about your practice? What is your brand? If you don’t know it is time to find out. People are loyal to brands they like and trust. Is your brand worthy of your patients’ loyalty?

Let me give you an example. I love EVERYTHING about Heinz Ketchup…the color, the texture, how it pours and most important the taste. I can count on Heinz being the same every time. I am loyal to Heinz Ketchup. I would never, ever, ever even consider tasting another ketchup let alone buy it! Regardless of the cost, because I can definitely find cheaper; or the latest and greatest, or even Aunties homemade. Heinz meets my expectations every time so I am totally loyal. I ask you to take a moment and think about the brands you are loyal to and why.

Let’s talk about cost for a moment. Marketing has sold us a bill of goods when it comes to cost. We are told to run ads focused on free or reduced. It’s not the cost that stops people from buying…or we wouldn’t see so many people with iPhone or Samsung phones glued to their ear…you get the picture. Cost is a deterrent when there is lack of value. Are you building a valuable brand?

If you don’t already have a valuable brand or any brand for that matter there is no better time than the present to build one.

Doctors it starts with you clarifying your vision, your why for what you do. What is the reputation you desire? Who are you and who do you want to be at your core? Simplify it by reducing it to 4 core adjectives in order of priority. If it is more than four it will be confusing for your team and your patients and will not create a clear brand. Next involve the team in a team meeting setting. Share with your team the 4 core adjectives that support your vision for your brand. Discuss as a team how you can create a consistent experience reflecting these adjectives with every patient at every visit. What do your patients need to see hear, touch, smell and taste to think, feel and experience the brand. I can’t stress this too much…consistency is key.   If you don’t have consistency you have don’t have a brand. It is necessary to be consistent 5 out of 5 times with every team member, every patient, and every visit. Consistent and congruent with your people, services, amenities, systems/protocols, and transitions. It only takes one less than experience to weaken or diminish your brand and lose patient trust and loyalty.

For example, let’s go back to ketchup! If Heinz came out with a new and improved ketchup and stopped making their original…shuddering thought!

I would give the new and improved impostor one chance. If I didn’t love it…if it didn’t meet ALL my expectations for Heinz I would no longer be loyal.   I would now be open to trying any new ketchup in town!

Build a brand your patient’s value and it won’t matter who comes to town!

November 1, 2018

Be on time! Be on time! Be on time!

Be on time! Be on time! Be on time!

For those practice owners who are always late; you might be frustrated or even upset that that I brought up this topic.

You may think I don’t realize or am unsympathetic that you wear many hats and work really hard and often very long hours after everyone else has left. Or I don’t grasp that you not only are the producer you also have to run the business, be a leader and a cheerleader and balance a home life! So in your mind that justifies the right to come in a little late.

I agree with you that as the practice owner you have every right to come in late! But not without consequences! “While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions!” – Stephen Covey. Truthfully this is one of the most difficult conversations I have to have. I help doctors achieve a happier healthier and higher performing culture even if it means having a difficult conversation with them.

It’s time to be on time.

Be on time first thing in the morning! Doctors who are the practice owners; if you want to disengage your team arrive late to work every day! There is absolutely no reason in the entire world for you to be late every day! Because you own the practice. If you don’t want to be there at 8am start at 8:30, start at 9:00, start whatever time that will work for you to be on time.

I see this happen often. The patient is seated and impatiently wondering what the delay is after all that’s why they chose the first appointment of the morning…so they would not have to wait. The team is prepped and ready to go! There at the starting gate like race horses chomping at the bit. Everything is set to go except there is no doctor. Fifteen minutes later the doctor arrives and says, “OMG the traffic was bad and the kids…!” You know what; the team and the patients have to deal with traffic and kids! The team and the patients think the doctor doesn’t respect them or they would be on time.

Be on time during the day! Doctors, some of you run by the seat of your pants. You want your schedule booked so tight to avoid any downtime. You consistently run over into the next patient’s appointment. You are sacrificing patient care, service and experience for a perceived profit. It is perceived profit because realistically you aren’t being more productive. You still are taking the same amount of time for the appointment but just squeezing more patients in and running over.

Your team is running their heads off and aren’t able to deliver consistent excellent service or care. They have little or no time to handoff the patient and turnover the room. Details are missed, instruments are lost, and documentation and sterilization suffer. It becomes the norm to work far into lunch and run over at the end of the day.

Your patients think you don’t respect them or their time. You are even training your patients to arrive late for their appointments because they know they won’t be seen on time. Some patients may even choose to leave the practice.

The downside of cramming your schedule:

  • Your team will stop trying if there is no possibility of staying on time
  • An unrealistic workload/schedule generates disengaged team members
  • You will lose good team members who are unwilling to underperform or consistently work late
  • You will get a reputation of running behind and running over which will deter attracting and keeping new patients and new team members

The upside of un-cramming your schedule:

  • Patients will receive better care and service and have a better experience resulting in more loyal patients and patient referrals
  • You will attract and retain high performing team members who want to work in a happy and high performing culture
  • The day will flow smoothly increasing job satisfaction and happiness level while decreasing stress and low morale
  • Engaged and optimistic attitudes will radiate
  • You and your team can actually schedule home life

Time to un-cram your schedule. Have a team meeting and together as an entire team discuss and evaluate your appointment times. You will have more solid information if you monitor the schedule for a few weeks prior to your meeting. What treatment do you consistently run over? When do the bottlenecks most often occur? What can and can’t be scheduled alongside in another column? You have a choice of un-cramming your day by extending the day and seeing more patients scheduled appropriately or keeping the same hours and seeing less patients. The more specific you are the more you will empower your business team to schedule appropriately.

Be on time checking your hygiene patients. I understand that the hygiene appointment check can seem like an interruption in your day. However, it is not interruption it is your bread-and-butter! The average dental office obtains 75% of their revenue from treatment diagnosed on their hygiene patients. It is important to also be mindful of how much time you spend chatting about personal topics with the hygiene patient. Having a consistent specific briefing process with your hygienist at the start of the appointment will help you be more time efficient and allow you a little more time for personal conversation. When your hygienist tees up the treatment don’t repeat everything they just stated. Instead respond, “I work with the best hygienists! Sue is absolutely correct that tooth is indeed a candidate for a crown. Because it is a large filling that is breaking down I would suggest we take care of that sometime within the next month. (Know the next available appointments so you don’t create an urgency you can’t fulfill.) Do you have any questions for me regarding the crown?” If they say no, you are done talking about the treatment needed. This will free you up to have a little more personal chat time, less redundant conversation and keep your hygienist on time. Please email me at judykay@practicesolutionsInc.net if you would like to receive the white page for the 60 second doctor/hygiene briefing for a more efficient hygiene exam.

Consider that whenever you are late you are robbing time from those waiting for you. Being on time is the most valuable gift you can give to another person. Be on time! Be on time! Be on time!

October 1, 2018

Achieving Authentic Success! Part 2

Achieving Authentic Success! Part 2

In Part 1 we talked about how confidence can help us be our authentic self. When we are confident we are free to choose who we want to be. We stop worrying about what others think and stop relying on others for affirmation.

This message is focused on how the power of perseverance and commitment can help us to achieve authentic success.

Perseverance is what helps us keep going when the going gets tough. I am an overnight success. LOL that is if you call 12 years overnight. I am blessed to have inherited my mom’s perseverance to succeed. You could often hear her say; “Come hell or high water this is happening!” Trust me it did. We never doubted whether mom would get the job done even against insurmountable odds.

I started my coaching business August 1, 2006. The next six months I visited over 200 dental offices in Minnesota to introduce my coaching services only to receive a resounding NO response. My awesome husband, Steve continued to cheer me on even though his heart was breaking for me. I finally started to get a tiny bit of interest but not enough to really stay afloat. One of my closest friends suggested I stop wasting my time and get a real job. (FYI she is no longer in my life). Her words were a challenge like waving a red flag in front of bull. Growing up on a farm in North Dakota we learned you pulled yourself up by your own boot straps. I had tried to do it all on my own and finally realized I needed some help. Two dental industry giants, Lois Banta and Linda Miles were there to lift me up. I attended my first SCN (Speaking Consulting Network) Meeting June of 2007 and haven’t looked back since. (www.speakingconsultingnetwork.com) I am forever grateful for their mentoring and support and I am honored to call them good friends.

Many of us have had someone during our life time help lift us up. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Develop strong relationships with others who have complementary skills to help you succeed. Perseverance doesn’t mean we have to do it all on our own. Perseverance means we do what we need to do to succeed. Let me clarify; as long as it is legal, ethical and done with integrity! These fundamentals are a given and expected yet we often see just the opposite. “Success is the ability to lay your head on your pillow at night with your integrity uncompromised!” Here are some reminders of dos and don’ts.

  • Do what you said when you said you would do it
  • Don’t claim you are someone you are not
  • Don’t step on someone else to step up
  • Don’t plagiarize from others
  • Don’t be vague and misleading
  • Don’t do something you know is wrong and think it is okay as long as you apologize later

Commitment is the third component to achieving authentic success! It takes commitment to daily action steps to achieve the results we desire. Remember to avoid O.C.D. …over committer’s disorder. Be realistic about what you can commit to doing consistently. Consistency is the key. Something you do occasionally will never be sustainable. In order for us to sustain something it needs to become a habit. The average habit takes 66 days of precise and consistent practice. Once something becomes a habit we don’t even think about it we just do it. My good friend Dr. Uche Odiatu simplifies how to consistently eat healthy and exercise. He has created a 7 minute exercise routine to help those who don’t exercise at all get started. Don’t forget to celebrate each step of the way. The joy happens during the journey!

Here are some steps to help you shine!

  • Define your 4 core values.
    • Make sure they are what you are enthusiastic about, and not someone else’s dream.
    • Share your core values with others.
  • Clarify your goals and objectives for the year.
    • Know your strengths and the areas you need to grow.
    • Embrace daily habits that help you achieve your goals.
  • Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
    • Develop strong relationships with others who have complementary skills to help you succeed
    • Focus on what you can do to lift others.
  • Don’t compromise your core values, your health, or your family.
    • Challenge yourself to do difficult things to help you grow.
    • Do only what is legal, ethical and with integrity.
  • Enjoy the journey as much as the final destination.
    • Be grateful for what is and celebrate even the small things daily.

Every day we have the opportunity to show up authentic and be our best us, we can be. Every day we have the opportunity to shine. Every day we have the opportunity to serve and impact others in a positive way to help lift them up to shine. When we do we achieve authentic success! TA-DAH!

 

August 3, 2018

The Power of Appreciation!

The Power Appreciation!

Appreciation is a fundamental human need yet is often considered an unnecessary nicety. Niceties like please, thank you, that was awesome, and I appreciate you. After all why should we have to interrupt our busy day to tell someone else we appreciate them? Aren’t they just being needy? Doesn’t that show a lack of confidence on their part if they need constant reinforcement? They should know that they are appreciated without having to have a pat on the back. Wrong! That little pat on the back is so powerful that 64% of Americans leave their job because of lack of it.

So what is so powerful about appreciation? Appreciation gives us purpose! Appreciation changes perceptions! Appreciation emits positivity! We all want and need to feel valued for who we are and recognized for our contributions and accomplishments. It’s important for us to know that we truly make a difference.

 

Let’s start with Purpose.

Appreciation expressed through acknowledgement of our good work confirms our work is valued. When our work is valued, our satisfaction and performance rises and we feel purpose. Feeling genuinely appreciated makes us feel secure, which is what empowers us to do our best work. If a person takes the time to express their heart-felt appreciation for something we have done, it makes us feel good about what we do. It builds our self-confidence, self-esteem and our entire self-image. It gives us energy and motivation to work harder and do more.

Appreciation put simply is positive feedback. We all want to know whether our employers think we are doing well. Positive feedback is their confirmation. When we aren’t given positive feedback it seems as if they don’t notice, care or value our contribution. Instead we may only hear when we are doing something wrong. A healthy ratio is three positives to every one negative feedback conversation. Exceptional relationships are the result of five positives to every one negative.

When we don’t feel valued we wonder if we are doing a good job. We may even worry if we are at risk of losing our job. We lose our sense of purpose if we believe what we do isn’t important enough to be noticed and appreciated. Purpose is powerful!

 

Next is Perception!

Appreciation can change our perception by changing our focus. For example let’s say you’re not getting along with a coworker. It is our nature to focus on what we don’t like and take for granted the things we do like. We get so focused on what we don’t like about a person we stop seeing the good in them.

Here is an exercise for the next time you get really upset with someone…your spouse, significant other, close friend or co-worker. It may even be today. What are five things you appreciate about this person? How do they make a difference in your life? On a scale of 1 to 10 how big of deal is what you are upset about? Focus on what you appreciate about that person instead of what you don’t.

When we take time to think about what we appreciate about the other person it changes our focus. When we change our focus we see them in a new light and it changes our perception. When we show appreciation to another person it changes their perception of us as well. It also changes their willingness to help. People are much more willing to go the extra yard if they know they will be appreciated.

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide in my Culture Camps to create a happier healthier and higher performing culture. I utilize appreciation because it has the power to mend and restore relationships. A major focus of my culture camp is to help teams work together better. I was working with a team that was extremely divided. We started the culture camp with an appreciation exercise. This is an exercise I use often when there is drama, hurt feelings or conflict between colleagues. I asked every team member to share with the entire team what they appreciate about each of their coworkers. They were to be very specific including how it was helpful to them. It was amazing to watch the energy shift in the room. Frustration, anger and hurt shifted to receptiveness, willingness and gratification. There are often times tears of relief and hugs of acceptance. Perception is powerful!

 

Last but not least Positivity!

Positivity is the practice of being positive or optimistic in attitude. Positivity is a side effect of appreciation. Whether we are the giver the receiver of appreciation we feel more positive.

When we feel appreciation we feel happy and at peace and no longer feel anger or frustration. We are not wired to entertain both appreciation and negative emotions at the same time. The more we look for opportunities to show appreciation the more we will find and the more positive everyone will feel. It is positive circulation in motion!

In positive psychology research, appreciation is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Appreciation helps people feel more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships. Which is why I wrote my book TA-DAH! Get Happy in 5 Seconds or Less. Positivity is powerful!

Another great read for the entire office is “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman. He shares the five ways we feel appreciated. They are verbal, time, help, gifts and touch.

Look for reasons to show appreciation daily and BE the following:

  • Be timely
  • Be specific
  • Be brief
  • BE GENUINE

Start practicing appreciation today! You will be amazed at how simply showing appreciation will cultivate purpose, perception and positivity in your life!

 

 

 

 

July 3, 2018

Avoiding Assumptions…How to Ask!

Avoiding Assumptions!

Assumptions create 90% of all dental team conflicts! We make assumptions every minute of every day. Something happens and we instantly assign meaning to it. That is an assumption. We start imagining what other people are doing, what they’re thinking, what they’re saying about us. We invent an entire story based on assumptions and we believe it. One assumption leads to another assumption; we jump to conclusions and we take it personally. Almost all team conflicts are based on assumptions. Assumptions are nothing more than false stories that we are telling ourselves. They create a big drama for no reason because they aren’t based on fact.

It may be correct or it may be incorrect. We won’t know unless we take the next step. ASK! Sounds easy but it’s not. We often fear that if we ask, we may open ourselves up to an emotional reaction such as judgment, criticism or retaliation.

It is vital that we don’t allow the fear of a negative response stop us from asking. We truly don’t know what someone intended by their actions or words. Our perception of what it means to us when we do a certain action may have a totally different meaning for someone else. Sometimes even what others say or the words they use can mean something different than what we believe them to mean. And just because someone felt a certain way in the past doesn’t mean they still feel the same. Stop making assumptions and start asking questions regardless of a potential negative response.

When you get that twinge in your gut and you think “Hmmm – I wonder what they meant by that, or I wonder why they haven’t…?” Or you find yourself saying “I think they meant this.” Stop wondering and ASK the person! Go directly to the person instead of asking others…what do you think they meant when they…? Other people’s responses will only be assumptions as well. It may seem like conflict to approach the person who gave you the twinge in the gut. It is actually very respectful. Because you are going to the source instead of gossiping to others. You are giving them an opportunity to be heard and allowing them to share their why. Be mindful of the energy you bring to the conversation. Always approach from a place (mindset) of care, concern and curiosity versus anger, judgment and criticism.

Some simple questions to ask are:

  • I am not quite sure what you meant, please tell me more?
  • I am not quite sure what happened. Can we talk about it?
  • Is everything okay?
  • Are you okay?

Continue to respectfully ask questions until you understand the other person’s intent. If you are still thinking “I think they meant…” you are assuming. It is important to continue to ask more questions to achieve a deeper understanding! Believe them when they explain their why otherwise, there is no reason to even have a conversation.

If you are the person being approached thank the other person for speaking with you. Remember they respect and trust you enough to come to you. “Thank you for sharing this with me. I appreciate that you came to me instead of not addressing it or going to someone else.” Take time if you need to reflect before responding. Always set a specific time to meet again to discuss. “I can see this is important to you. I would like to take today to think about it. Can we talk about it tomorrow at lunch?” The more questions we ask the less assumptions we will make the better we will work together!

June 1, 2018

Rise Above the Pain of Change! Part 2

Rise Above the Pain of Change! Part 2

In Part 1 we covered the first 2 essentials to rise above the pain of change and make it a positive process; trust in leadership and a clear and consistent direction!

The third essential is for leadership to work with the team to 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.

  • Review
    • What is it we are currently doing
    •  What is working and what is not
    • Keep what is let go of what is not
    • WIIFTT – What’s in it for the team if we make the chang
    • It is important for the value/benefits to rate an 8 or above on scale of 1 to 10 or it is difficult to sustain
  • Implement
    • What are we going to change
    • Who is going to do it
    • Who are we going to do it for
    • When are we going to do it – including time, sequence and flow
    • Where are we going do it – very specific location
    • Why are we going to do it
      • WIIFTT if we make the change – there must always be something in it for the team for the team to sustain the change
    • How are we going do it
      • Practice verbal skills
      • Practice role playing – yes I know it’s weird but it’s effective
      • Practice the entire physical walk through – never test it out for the first time on a patient
      • Create standard operating procedure
      • Schedule the roll out date
  • Sustain
    • In order to sustain it is important for the new change to become a habit
      • It takes a range of 17 to 257 days to form a habit depending on the difficulty with the average being 66 days
    • Give any new change at least 60 days to get comfortable before considering any changes
    • Be precise and consistent to form a habit much sooner
      • Same sequence and steps for every team member every time
    • Support the change positively in words, actions and attitude
  • Evaluate
    • Is the process still working effectively
    • If not what is the value and benefits in a change
    • Any change takes ongoing tweaking

The fourth essential is to 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. Utilize your team meetings to:

  • Review and update systems and protocols
  • Implement new ideas
  • Monitor process of yearly goals
  • Practice, practice, practice
    • Verbal skills, role playing and physical walk through

Team meetings are most effective when you:

  • Schedule often enough
  • Schedule time enough
  • Schedule when most can attend
  • Get feedback from the entire team
    • Encourage solution focused suggestions on how to overcome potential obstacles

The fifth essential is to be realistic with the workload. It will be very difficult to get the team excited about embracing something new if they are already swamped and consistently running behind. It is important to evaluate whether there is enough time, money and people to successfully implement the change. Don’t firehose your employees with changes. Implement only one or two new things at a time. Even the most committed employees will become resistant to change if they are consistently overwhelmed.

Cultivating a culture with these 5 essentials will help you rise above the pain of change and make it a positive process!

May 1, 2018

Rise Above the Pain of Change! Part 1

Rise Above the Pain of Change! Part 1

You may have heard the quote; “The only thing that is constant is change!” It is true, change is inevitable but not always positive or successful! The reality is that some work cultures support positive change, while other cultures sabotage change. There are many factors involved, such as team workload, other current changes in progress, team beliefs about change, clear communication about the change, benefits of the change, appropriate training, coaching and support provided during the change, etc.

I have the privilege of helping dental teams nationwide create a happier, healthier and higher performing culture that they will enjoy coming to everyday. This always involves making changes. I often observe team members roll their eyes and let out deep sighs of frustration when they hear there is another change heading their way. They stress and worry about how it will affect them and how long it will last. This article is dedicated to learning how to rise above the pain of change and make it a positive process.

Change for many of us is often scary. The fear of change comes when we start the assumptions of “what if” thoughts! How many times have you been afraid to make a change because of saying to yourself, “But what if this happens”? You just “what if’d” yourself right out of action. Think about this. It’s a biggy! How many times has fear stopped you? The ironic part is that fear is really only a negative prediction of the future. In most cases, what we worry about doesn’t happen. What actually happened, we didn’t even think about or worry about, and yet we still survived. Its proof that worry is a total waste of energy and time. If we can learn to evaluate the real danger, as opposed to the perception of danger (what if), we will get a more realistic viewpoint and we will be less afraid to make the change. Imagine how much happier you would be right this second if the fear of “what if” had no impact on your decisions. What would you do or change? What would your life look like right now?

Change requires us to have courage to face our fear of “what if” in unpredictable and unknown! Regardless of how dysfunctional, unhappy, unproductive or toxic the current culture may be it often feels safer to keep the status quo. The known almost always feels safer than the unknown. That is why it is imperative that the value of the change be clear to those asked to make the change. It is essential that the value and benefits of change rate an 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high. Otherwise, the chance for the change to be positive and sustainable is limited.

I have found 5 essentials to help dental teams rise above their fears and embrace change as a positive process.

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

The number one essential necessary to embrace change is trust in the leadership. If the team members trust their leader(s) they will be more willing to step into the unpredictable and unknown. Leaders can build trust by embodying the following traits:

  1. Model the waddle is the number one leadership principle – in other words lead by example
  2. Have a clear and consistent direction
  3. Be transparent by communicating to keep the team in the loop as much as possible
  4. Be open to suggestions and feedback
  5. Address any obstacles, fears or concerns the team may have about the change

The second essential is to communicate a clear and consistent direction. It is important to use a decision strategy to avoid fly-bys and emotion driven decisions in the heat of the moment. I teach the following four strategic steps:

  • What’s in the best interests of the patients, practice and the team – not any individual and long term
    • Think about 10 months and 10 years instead of next 10 minutes or 10 days
  • What is practical and realistic based on time, people and money currently available
  • What is the precedent being set
    • Is it fair, if we can’t do it across the board for everyone on the team it will feel like favoritism and divide the team
  • What is the level of passion we are willing to support the decision
    • Will we support it when push comes to shove even if it may result in losing an employee or a patient

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
  • Identify equipment and supplies necessary
  • Schedule adequate training and practice time
  • Set realistic expectations for completion time and date
  • For more involved longer tasks schedule a check in

Read Part 2 to learn all 5 essentials to rise above the pain of change and make it a positive process!

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