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June 30, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

June 1, 2022

Co-leadership! How to lead Successfully!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owner Doctors

Practice Administrator

Team Leads and Associate Doctors

Team

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

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

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

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

April 1, 2022

Toxic Performers!

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

Some signs of toxic behaviors are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three powerful assessment questions regarding behaviors:

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

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

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

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.

February 1, 2022

Control, Alt, Delete! Reset, Reset, Reset!!!

Control, Alt, Delete! Reset, Reset, Reset!!! 10 Creator Thoughts to Help You Reset!

2022 isn’t starting out quite like I imagined or planned!  Reset time!  So many things are up in the air.  Literally like flying for example.  I fly almost every week for work.  I can tell you that it has been a challenging task.  Lack of plane and or crew or nasty weather often leads to a delayed or canceled flight.  Once I arrive there is the potential of attendance concerns due to the pandemic.  It often feels like playing Russian Roulette.

 

 

Many of my clients are struggling as well with staffing shortages and last-minute patient cancels or fails due to illness.  Everyday is a new challenge.  Maybe you find yourself in the same boat.

We have two choices. We can reset by taking on the current situation and making the best of it.  Or we can get angry, worry, and judge what should or shoudn’t have happened.  Some of us live in a state of fear and judgement of “what if” waiting for the next shoe to drop.

We become the creator of our world when we take on the challenges.  We become the victim of our world when we stew and worry.  Creators are constantly resetting!  Something unplanned or uncertain will happen.  Stop the spinning out of control thoughts of this should or shouldn’t have happened.  Instead change your internal dialogue with a reset transition thought.  So, this happened…now what is the next step I want to take?

  • Triage the situation with your team or if alone by yourself.
  • Identify what needs to get done, what can be let go.
  • Who else can assist?
  • What resources can I utilize?
  • Then do your best.

Life will continue to be filled with unplanned stuff! Here are 10 creator thoughts to help you reset.

  1. Start your day on a positive note. Plan how you want to feel today and not what has to happen today to make it a good day.
  2. People will come and go in our life. Some relationships are only meant to last a certain amount of time.
  3. People’s actions and reactions are often heightened with all the uncertainty. Don’t take things personally.
  4. Challenges force us to grow. Look for the learning opportunity in every obstacle.
  5. Sit, stop, and become still. Breathe deep and become calm.  How we feel inside will change how we feel about what’s happening on the outside.
  6. Our energy is contagious. Be mindful of the energy we radiate.
  7. Be proactive instead of reactive. Take the necessary steps to set up to succeed.
  8. Treat people based on the person you want to be. Don’t let negative behavior of others drive your actions.
  9. Have hope for the future. This too shall pass.
  10. End your day in gratitude. Celebrate the positives by giving thanks       and praise.

 

Life will be filled with unplanned challenges.  The ability to reset will define our level of success.

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.

September 1, 2021

Staff Shortage!!! 5 Steps to Help You Survive the Staff Shortage.

Yes, I know the term team is more uniting and empowering than the word staff.  Also, that staff is an infection.  😊 However, I like the alliteration of short staffed versus short teamed or team shortage.

Times have changed and nearly everyone faces sporadic or chronic staffing challenges.  Stop and take a moment and breathe deep!  You will survive this challenge and be even better after!

Start by writing an ad that is enticing and specific to attract that new superstar team member!  Together as a team define specific skills and traits desired for the position.  Please email me at JudyKay@PracticeSolutonsInc.net if you would like to receive a sample ad.

 

 

Here are 5 steps to help you survive the shortage until you hire your new superstar!

Communicate – Take time to communicate as a team.  Notice I used the term team now as no need for alliteration.  Together define specific tasks that were being done by the employee or employees who are gone.   Make a list of the specific tasks that need to be done instead of panicking.  Avoid generalization of tasks as the more specific the easier the solution.

Prioritize – Triage the list of tasks.  What must be done?  What can be delayed?  What can be let go?  I like to utilize Rocks, Pebbles and Sand to prioritize.

  • Rocks – Important and Urgent – Rocks must be done that day or consequences
  • Pebbles – Important and Not Urgent – Pebbles can be done another day without consequences. However, if delayed long enough a Pebble can turn into a Rock.
  • Sand – Not Important and Not Urgent – Sand is the filler like cleaning and organizing and can be delayed the longest.

Utilize Human Resources – Your human resources are your entire team.  So often we compartmentalize the team into departments.  We lessen our resources when we compartmentalize.  Instead, be creative when discussing who could do specific tasks.  Take time to cross train whenever possible.  A highly cross trained team is much more flexible and beneficial!  My favorite job description is:

“My job from the moment I check in to the moment I check out is whatever is legal, ethical, and within my licensure to help the patients, practice, and team thrive!”

Also consider which tasks could be done virtually.  There are many platforms available.   

Utilize Technology – Learn your technology in your practice.  Invest the time now and you will become more efficient and effective.  I work with practices nationwide and very few fully maximize their technology.  Schedule a call with your practice software trainer asap.  Review your lists of tasks to learn what tasks could possibly be automated.  For example, billing, confirming appointments, contacting recare etc.  There is often so much more we can do with the existing technology in our practice.

Look into additional technology that would allow you to automate in the clinical area.  For example, Voiceworks Software allows hygienists to be autonomous with probing as well as more effective and efficient.  Check out the video on voice-controlled charting.  The link is  https://oralscience.com/en/products/voiceworks/

Schedule – Review the schedule with your team based on current staffing available.  Many of you have new team members that will take time to train.  Do you need more time for procedures?  Do you need to change what is scheduled in conjunctive columns?  You may even need to temporarily suspend scheduling a column.  FEAR ALERT!!!  I know you are concerned about overhead and the bottom line etc.  However, if you consistently overwhelm and over burden your current old and new team members they may leave as well.  Or worse yet…they will stay and become burned out and disengaged.

Review the past two weeks schedule with your team.  Where were the bottlenecks and stress points?  What shows up consistently?  Adress the consistent problem areas by adjusting the schedule to accommodate them based on current team, training, and skills.

Implement these 5 steps and you will not only survive you will thrive!

July 1, 2021

Culture Is Like a Puzzle!

When I think about culture, I think of it as a puzzle.  The framework of the puzzle is created by the owner dentist(s).  They design it using their vision, core values, type of service and treatment they desire to deliver.  The team are the pieces that together make up the body of the puzzle.

 

 

I have observed an increase in the team turnover this past year due to the pandemic and other reasons.  It is important to hire the right team member for the right spot to be a good fit.  Otherwise, the result is problems and team turnover.  As a team identify the character traits and skill sets that are needed in the new team member to succeed at their role and integrate with the existing team.

The existing team is responsible to learn how to successfully work with the new team member.  It is imperative that the existing team members take the time to get to know and train the new team member.  I understand that training can seem like an added burden to the existing workload.  However, the more welcoming and supportive the training the sooner the new team member will be able to take on tasks.  Some new team members are quick learners and instantly work well with the existing team.  They are like puzzle pieces that fit together.  Others take more time and effort.

Set realistic training expectations for each position in the office.  Base the expectations on the average learning cycle.  I have found the tell them, show them, have them show you training process is very effective.  Create weekly goals for the first month and monthly goals for the second and third month.  Assign a mentor to meet with the new team member on a weekly basis for the first 3 months to review and celebrate successes as well as discuss goals for the following week or month.  It is imperative that the mentor is supportive and understanding.  Training expectations will lessen feeling overwhelmed and clarify goals for the entire team.

It is the responsibility of the team (new and existing) not the doctor or manager to recognize what they need to do to create a cohesive puzzle.

Often multiple new team members are joining the practice resulting in multiple changes to the puzzle.  This becomes even more a challenge.  So how do we make all the new pieces fit together?  Find opportunities for the team to communicate openly day-to-day.  Get aligned by clarifying the following:

  • What are the expectations from the new team members
  • What are the expectations from the existing team members

For example, existing team members, just because you have always done it a certain way does not mean you don’t need to be open to new ideas.  New team members don’t try to change everything right away just because you did it differently at your old office.  The comment, this is how we did it at my other office, quickly gets old and is not appreciated.  New team members immerse yourself in the practice culture to understand what they do and why.   Wait to bring up any suggestions until after the first 90 days.  This will help eliminate chafing between new and existing team members.

Implementing this puzzle analogy will help create a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture.

June 1, 2021

My Way or The Highway!

Our success in life depends greatly on our relationships in life!  Our relationships are the result of how well we communicate and collaborate in our personal and our professional lives.  When we communicate openly, positively, and effectively we inspire connections and build sincere, strong, sustaining relationships. Our ceiling of success then becomes like the old expression, “Sky’s the limit”.

What often gets in the way and sabotages successful relationships is our personal beliefs of right and wrong.

Most of our beliefs can be traced back to our early years.  I’m the youngest of seven and am blessed with a great family.  I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. My past experiences will differ greatly from those who were not raised in the same environment.  Our expectations of right and wrong will vary and may even conflict based on our past experiences.

When we interact with others, we are always coming from a place filled with our own experiences. Our expectations differ because of our unique and individual beliefs, opinions, and assumptions based on our experiences. These expectations become our personal truths upon which we base judgments of right and wrong. To help you remember the concept, see the first letters of each word; it spells out the word B.O.A.T. Beliefs, Opinions, Assumptions, therefore, are Truths based on our experiences.

We all have unique and individual experiences, yet we expect each other to think, act, and respond the same. These are some false expectations that can get us into trouble.

  • Others must behave in the same manner as we do, or their behavior is wrong.
  • Another person’s behavior must mean the same as ours if we did that same behavior.
  • We get in a disagreement because others disagree with our opinion (after all we are right and want it our way)!

These are examples of expectations based on personal truths. Once we understand that our personal truths (how we judge the world by what is right and wrong) are based on the unique and individual experiences we have, we can no longer believe that our answer is the only right answer.

Our personal truths dictate our right!  We may be right based on the current extent of our experiences.  However, there is a whole big universe out there filled with experiences we have yet to meet.  Right and wrong are really arbitrary.  The more knowledge and understanding we have the more we will realize how ambiguous right and wrong become.  In our current state of affairs, it is very difficult to really know what is true or a manipulation of the truth.  When we continue to explore, we will find there is always more than one right way.

I used to love listening to Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.  The Rest of the Story was a Monday-through-Friday radio program originally hosted by Paul Harvey.  The Rest of the Story consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Be open to the more of the story instead of stubbornly attaching to your beliefs.  Avoid making assumptions and filling in the gap based on your B.O.A.T.!  Ask questions until you uncover and understand the root of the belief, the why behind the story.  Here are some good questions to ask when you are in disagreement.

  • Where did you learn this belief?
  • Tell me why you believe this to be right?
  • Tell me why you feel so strongly about this?

More importantly, do a little soul searching first to understand your beliefs before you question other’s beliefs.  Here are triggering questions to ask yourself to uncover your why.

  • Where did I learn this belief?
  • Is this belief based on truth or illusion?
  • How important is this belief?
  • How this belief affecting me?
  • Do I still need this belief (how relevant is it now)?

Let go of thinking I have to, you must, they should, and it has to be!  These are the words we use to judge others.  When we think we know more or better than someone else we are setting ourselves up for a clash of beliefs.  We become too attached to our own point of view and that others must share it.    Once we become too attached to an idea we lose respect both for ourselves and others.  Sometimes a belief can even become more important than the other people.  It is the root of extremism and fanatics.

The world is filled with different beliefs and different ways.  Who says we all have to always agree.  More importantly we need to respect each other and work together for the better of all mankind.  I love what my big sis Lorraine taught me years ago.  It is okay to agree to disagree.  We can stick to our right or we can be open to infinite possibilities!

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.

 

 

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