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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!

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.

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!

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!

March 1, 2021

A Line Sand Day!

A Line In The Sand Day!

If you are reading this, you miraculously survived 2020.  2020 was a crazy ride that brought a combination of challenges that nobody would have believed could have happened.  For some it might have felt like the end was coming.  But we survived. We endured the challenges, and some of us even discovered new strengths and became even better. We adapted and made concessions, but we are still here.  Which is reason enough to celebrate with a thank you, amen or a TA-DAH!

The dark side of 2020 was comprised of negativity, uncertainty, fear, stress, anger, judgment, and blame, etc..  Many of us were hoping 2021 would magically change everything.  While the calendar might have turned a new page, much of our reality is continuing to be the same as we start 2021.  It’s time to reset and take action.  It’s time to let go of those dark emotions and move forward to a happier, healthier and higher performing 2021!

A line in the sand day is the perfect way to reset for 2021.  A line in the sand day is the day we decide to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.  Let go of the past and focus on the future.

We need to be able to let go of some of the things that happened if we want to work together successfully.  Because stuff happens and will continue happen.  A line in the sand day will allow the team to move forward and work together in a cohesive, happy, healthy and high performing culture!

It starts with being able to forgive and move on.  Let go of the things that happened and focus on how not to replicate them in the future we become a creator of our life.  If we choose to hang onto the things that happened to us and choose not to move on, we become a victim of our past.  I would much rather be a creator of my future than a victim of my past.

Let’s say I have a disagreement at work with someone and we aren’t getting along.  Co-workers don’t get involved with other team member’s dramas or you escalate the drama unless you are the doctor or manager or whoever handles conflict resolution in your practice.

It’s our job to work together well with our co-workers the moment we step across the threshold to start our day.  It’s each team member’s responsibility to figure out what they need to do to work together successfully.  Meet with any team member you are having the difficult problem with.  Extend the olive branch and openly discuss what you need from each other to work together successfully.  Focus on big picture goals first which are the core values of our practice.  Find what you agree on and build from there.  Be open and willing to compromise and agree on a process.  It’s not my way or your way it’s our way that supports the core values of the practice and is in the best interests of the patients, practice and team!  Not any one individual.  We make agreements.  We hold each other accountable and we support each other.  There are no individual opt outs.

The success of a practice is based on the success of the team.  We succeed as a team or we fail as a team.  If we run into hiccups, we review as a team and adjust what is needed to stay relevant.

I suggest a line in the sand day on a yearly basis.  It will enable your team to work together in a calm and cohesive manner and let go of the drama in the past.  Implement your line in the sand day and make 2021 your best year yet!

Contact me if you would like help implementing your Line in The Sand Day!

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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