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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!

May 1, 2022

6 Essentials to Raise The Level of Performance!

6 Essentials to Raise The Level of Performance!

Have you ever felt like you were banging your head against a brick wall trying to get certain team members to perform?  Their highest aspirations of performance was to just get by or be just good enough!  Well, if you have felt this frustration you are not alone.  Substandard performance has become more of an epidemic than a scarcity.  I have the privilege of facilitating in office Rise & Shine Culture Camps nationwide for dental teams.   I have found six essentials that will raise the level of performance by creating better relationships and consistent results!

We Team – United Leadership 

United Leadership is the most important strategy.  Without it, performance expectations will be ambiguous, and the team will conform to whatever are the lowest standards or expectations.  United Leadership starts with getting the leadership team; what I refer to as the We Team aligned.  The We Team is made up of all owner/partner doctor(s) as well as the practice administrator.

W.O.W. Decision Making

Second is a decision-making strategy.  I coach We Teams to use what I refer to as W.O.W. Decision Making.  W.O.W. is an acronym for weed out weeds.  A weed is anything that destroys a relationship, or makes others feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, or unsafe.  W.O.W. Decision Making gives the We Team a positive, practical, and proven decision-making strategy.  The results are decisions that are consistent, fair and support the team, the patients, and the practice (and referring doctors for specialists).

W.O.W. Decision Making is based on the following four fundamentals:

  • Patients, Practice & Team!  What is in the best interests of the patients, practice, and team and not any individual (including doctors)?  Specialists you would include Referring Doctors as well.
  • Practical!  What makes common sense based on time, money, and people?
  • Precedence!  What precedence is being set?  If it is done once it becomes the expectation.
  • Passion!  Is the We Team passionate enough about the decision to support?  Rate 8 or above on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high.

 

R.I.S.E. Implementation Process

I teach teams the R.I.S.E. Implementation Process to help the team work together to co-create well-structured agreements that raise the level of performance.  The agreements define how the team will do things and work together in the future.  They include both the hard and soft skills.  Co-creating clear agreements as a team gets everyone on the same page.  R.I.S.E. is an acronym for Review, Implement, Sustain and Evaluate.

  • Review
    • What is working and what is not
  • Implement change by defining the following:
    • 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 – benefit statements
    • How are we going do it
      • Practice verbal skills
      • Practice role playing
      • Practice the entire physical walk through
    • Create standard operating procedures or what I refer to as Culture Agreements
    • Schedule the roll out date
  • Sustain – It is vital for the new change to become a habit
    • It takes a range of anywhere between 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 – there is only our way not my way.
    • 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

Accountability

The complaint I often hear at my Culture Camps is that other people aren’t accountable.  The problem with accountability is we expect others to be accountable often before we are accountable.  Accountability starts with us.

It is vital that everyone is held equally accountable, no exclusions or exceptions or you divide the team.  That includes doctors and managers as well.  No double standards.  Together make agreements on how you hold each other accountable.  Give each other permission to do so before there is an issue.  This will enable everyone to feel confident and comfortable.  Monitor daily at your daily huddle by discussing the previous day’s successes and growth opportunities.  Maintain as a team and update as a team when changes are necessary.  No individual opt outs.  Meet as a team if something isn’t working to discuss, resolve, and maintain.

Appreciation 

Appreciation is a fundamental human need yet is often considered an unnecessary nicety. Niceties like please, thank you, and I appreciate you. Why should we have to interrupt our busy day to tell someone else we appreciate them?  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.

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

  • Be timely
  • Be specific
  • BE GENUINE

Celebration

Celebrate even the little things. We take things so seriously and are often in such a hurry that we don’t allow time to celebrate. If we don’t make time to celebrate, we will lose our joy for life.  If our focus is always on the next patient or task we will get lost in the muck and mundane.  We will miss the positive in the present moment and eventually we will lose our joy for our work.

Celebrate by:

  • Looking for what is positive in the present moment.
  • Being grateful for what is instead of complaining about what isn’t
  • Focus on the strengths of your co-workers not their weaknesses
  • Stop and take a moment to celebrate together with a positive body pattern – for example, a big smile, thumbs up, high five or even a Ta-Dah!

Implementing these six essentials will empower your team to WORK together better and raise their level of performance.

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.

August 2, 2021

Delivering W.O.W. Treatment Presentations!

The ability to proficiently present treatment and fees is critical to the success of your practice.  The more your patients understand their dental needs and the fees associated with treatment, the more likely they are to accept your recommendations. You want the patient to understand exactly what they need, why they need it, and the importance of getting it done now.

Most people dislike surprises when it comes to dental care and costs.  Real understanding on the part of the patient leads to case acceptance. Use stories and analogies focused on real life benefits for the patient.  For example, eating corn on the cob or steak or even just being able to smile.

It is vital that the team member (presenter) presenting treatment and fees is confident and comfortable with this role. Seventy percent of case acceptance breaks down because of the way the fees were handled.  The presenter must understand dentistry and absolutely believe in the value and the quality of dentistry delivered in the practice.

Teach all team members the procedures that are being performed in the office.  Together as a team create and practice consistent treatment verbiage.  Utilize the same verbiage the doctor uses to avoid any confusion and keep everyone in the practice on the same page.

It is critical that the presenter discuss the treatment and fees with enthusiasm.  Listen to the patient’s financial concerns, enthusiastically promote the payment options, and clearly communicate the financial protocol.  Our patients’ perception is based on only 7% of our words, 38% our tone of voice, and 55% our body language.

Consistent fees and payment protocols are vital to build the presenters confidence and proficiency. A dental practice is not a bank or a charity and deserves to get paid for services rendered. Never be uncomfortable about charging appropriate fees or pre-judge a patient’s ability to pay.

It is a lesson I learned well over 30 years ago.  I can clearly remember misjudging a patient’s ability to pay only to find out later they were extremely wealthy.  The patient arrived for their appointment disheveled and dressed in a dated threadbare running suit.  I later learned the patient had just come from working on a home project.  The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a great metaphorical reminder that means one shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone.

The following approach will enable the presenter to deliver W.O.W. Presentations.

Mindset

The goal of the practice is to make it as comfortable as possible for the patient to have the very best dentistry available.  Adopt a mindset of being an advocate to help the patient get the treatment they need and desire.  Present treatment with care and concern not assumptions, judgement or criticism.

Informed Consent

A successful treatment presentation results in informed consent not just scheduling treatment.  Verify the following information with every patient.

  • Sequence
  • Time
  • Compliance
  • Investment

Handling Objections

It is essential for the presenter to actively listen to the patient’s concerns and comments. Their responses focused on What’s In It For The Patient (WIIFTP).  Use patient focused benefits verbiage.  Speak in “layman’s” terms so the patient clearly understands what is being said.

I teach W.O.W. Presentations.  W.O.W. is an acronym for weed out the weeds.  A weed is anything that might make your patient feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe and possibly destroy the relationship.

I have found the Feel, Felt, Found Method to show empathy works extremely well.

  • I can understand why you might feel this way.
    • It tells the patient you heard them and empathize with them.
  • Other patients had initially felt that as well.
    • It tells the patient they are not alone and things can change.
  • What they have found was….
    • It tells the patient what another person found when they followed through, they got the results they wanted.

 

W.O.W. Process – Work, Options, When

It is important that there is consistency of treatment presentations amongst team members as well as clear documentation of all patient conversations.  Utilize the W.O.W. Process to deliver consistent and effective treatment presentations. This is a second acronym for W.O.W. which is work, options and when.  The W.O.W. Process is a simple three step process.

  • Work
    • Review treatment and fees with patient.
  • Options
    • Offer options, finalize, and sign payment arrangements.
  • When
    • Offer two available appointments and schedule an appointment.

Delivering a W.O.W. presentation is a win for the patient and the practice, resulting in a healthy smile for the patient and healthy bottom line for the practice.

Email judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net to receive your white page on Delivering W.O.W. Treatment Presentations.

July 1, 2021

Culture Is Like a Puzzle!

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1, 2021

My Way or The Highway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Criticism
  • Rudeness
  • Assumptions
  • Problems

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2020

The Peak-End Rule!

I love helping dental teams co-create a happier, healthier, and higher performing service culture.  Our culture is a result of practicing a consistent set of values to deliver consistent experiences.  However, not all experiences are not judged equally according to the peak-end rule!

The peak–end rule states that people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.  The peak-end rule highly influences how we remember our experiences.  We believe we are accurately recalling facts when it really has more to do with our emotions during the experience.

Our memories of positive and negative experiences are dependent upon two things: what we were feeling at the most extreme (peak) point and how the experience ended. Our memories are typically not an average of the experience or the amount of time we were engaged in the situation.

We can actually be irrational in our recollection and memory of events.  Our memories consist of a series of highpoints rather than a thorough record of facts and events.

We won’t know what the peak experience will be that will impact our team or patients.  However, we can plan the end experience.  Which is why it is imperative for the team to end the day on a high.  It is even more important than how we start our day.  Same with our patients.  We must not only welcome them warmly we must also have a warm farewell.

Let’s start with the team.  What can you do at the end of the day that will make a more positive end experience?  Maybe a heartfelt thank you, a high five for a job well done or even taking a moment to do a TA-DAH together!

The end experience for your patients usually involves paying their bill or a future bill.  Many patients have a difficult time parting with their money, which is why it is so important that the process flows smoothly.  Otherwise, it can become a negative end experience if handled poorly.  Which is why it is so essential that you have a confident and knowledgeable team member having the financial conversation.  Doctors you may have built rapport with the patient and they are excited to move forward with treatment.  Only to have it end at the financial discussion.

It is so important to role play this experience.  Also, make sure you have the tools you need to have a successful conversation.  My favorite tool is the Payment Options Form that Care Credit offers.  I love that you can customize it to include only the payment options you want to offer.  The form is so organized even a brand-new team member could confidently review payment options and sound very professional and knowledgeable.  It also includes all the legal information you will need to make payments arrangements.

You can find it at https://www.carecredit.com/providercenter/contactcenter/.  Enter the code JKM and request information on the Payment Options Form.

Here are a few steps to take to ensure not only a positive experience but a WOW end experience.

  • Delineate the final patient experience
  • Discuss and agree on verbiage and flow
  • Practice role playing and the physical walk through to build confidence and competence.

Whatever the end experience; following these simple steps will help ensure it is a WOW experience!

November 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Gossip affects:

*             Patient care and experience

*             Team communication, performance, and relationships

*             Practice performance

*             Morale

*             Trust

*             Respect

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

*             Am I being transparent

*             Am I being consistent

*             Am I being realistic

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

 

Some examples of behaviors that build confident trust are:

 

*             Be transparent by keeping the team in the loop

*             Be consistent with daily tasks

*             If you have a concern talk to the person

*             Help when you see help is needed

*             Ask for help when help is needed

*             Ask don’t assume

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

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

*             Don’t gossip

*             Tell the truth and be compassionate

*             Don’t be late or absent for trivial reasons

 

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

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

 

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

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

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