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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.

April 1, 2022

Toxic Performers!

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

Some signs of toxic behaviors are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three powerful assessment questions regarding behaviors:

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

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

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

September 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 1, 2021

Culture Is Like a Puzzle!

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1, 2021

My Way or The Highway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 1, 2021

A Communication Structure to Get in the Loop & Aligned! Part 1

 

I think George Bernard Shaw said it best when he said, “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished!” I find that to be the case in many dental practices today. More relationships are destroyed because of poor communication than for any other reason.

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide facilitating my Rise & Shine Culture Camps. I consistently observe concerns with the communication structure in dental practices. What I mean by communication structure is the actual flow of communication. It is what is necessary to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page working together for the greater good of the patients, practice, and team!

An effective communication structure starts with establishing a clear flow for communication and clarifying expectations to the team.

  • Who to go to or does it differ for specific areas? For example, do they always go to the office manager or is there a specific person for equipment repair, ordering supplies, or team, and patient concerns, etc.?
  • When to meet? Always consider who needs to know what information and when do they need to know it?
  • What is the decision-making process and how is it communicated to the team? Who will make the final decision and how quickly can it be made? I suggest trying to resolve within one week after being discussed at weekly management meeting to keep the practice moving forward. Try to resolve immediately if it pertains to the schedule that day.

 

The communication structure will differ based on size of practice and number of locations. For example, if you have one doctor and five team members in a single location versus 5 doctors and 45 team members in multiple locations.

The communication structure in a small one location practice without a manager would simply be doctor to team member and team member to doctor. As simple as that sounds it does not necessarily happen. I often observe a doctor or team member going another team member to share their concerns instead of going to each other. It is called gossip and is divisive.

The communication structure for practices with a manager would flow from doctor to manager and manager to team member and reversed team member to manager and manager to doctor. Even this simple communication structure can be difficult to maintain if the doctor and manager deviate from the flow.

It becomes more complicated when there are multiple locations and more team members with different shifts or start and end times. Larger multiple location practices with team leads would utilize the following communication structure. Doctors to director of operations, director of operations to location manager, location manager to team lead, team lead to team member. The reversed would-be team member to team lead, team lead to location manager, location manager to director of operations, director of operations to doctors.

Doctors may not always need to be included in the flow of communication depending on subject matter. The director of operations may make the decisions to expedite the process and keep the doctors in the loop at their scheduled monthly leadership meeting.

Implementing this communication structure will help to keep everyone in the loop and aligned!

Tune in next month to learn about what meetings are necessary to support your communication structure.

 

 

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!

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!

July 1, 2020

The WE Team!

The We Team!

 I refer to the leadership in a practice as the We Team! The We Team may consist of the owner doctor or doctors, practice administrator, manager, team lead and any other leadership roles in the practice. However, I will be focusing my message on the doctor/practice administrator relationship. It is imperative to develop a cohesive We Team. Without cohesive leadership performance expectations will be ambiguous and the team will conform to the lowest standards or expectations. Before you hire a practice administrator (PA) make sure you are ready to support them. I do not mean just financially. Consider the following questions before starting the hiring process:

·     Can the practice financially afford?

·     Are you ready to let go of some tasks and not micro-manage?

·     Will you take the time to empower someone else co-lead your team and practice

·     Will you support your PA in front of the team (any disagreements need to be behind closed doors away from the team)?

The relationship between the doctor and PA will be confusing without open communication and clear expectations. Many doctors hire a practice administrator without having clear expectations.  They believe the PA can manage without direction. The only guidance given to the PA is to let them know when they are doing things wrong. This lack of leadership sets the PA up to fail as it is confusing for them and the team. I receive a plethora of different answers when I ask doctors and team members what they think is the role of a PA. The role varies greatly from practice to practice.

Doctors make a list of the tasks you would like your PA to do before you start the hiring process. This will enable you to write and ad that clearly defines the role. Or if you already have a PA and have not defined their role do it now. You can also use this list to discuss strengths and future expectations.

Clearly define your goals and expectations. I would suggest creating a task management list that include the following. For a more detailed list email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net.

·     Personnel/team management

·     Overseeing patient management

·     Practice management/productivity/promotion

·     Property/facility management

·     Any additional duties

Doctors and PA’s before agreeing to work together discuss the following:

·     How well do your core values match?

·     How aligned are your passion and purpose?

·     How well does the PA’s strengths match the expectations of tasks and responsibilities?

·     Do you both understand and agree on the role?

·     Does the PA really want the role, and have the capacity to excel in the role?

 

I am blessed to have worked with hundreds of dental teams nationwide to help them build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture with my Culture Camps. Here is a link to my Rise & Shine Culture Camps (https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/culture-camp.html) The best results are dependent on having an aligned and cohesive We Team.

Start by clarifying your roles as a We Team.

Doctor’s Role:

The doctor’s role is to create a clear vision for the practice. Choose four core words that reflect the core values you want to have in your practice. They are important to define what they mean to you and prioritize. These core value words will help guide you and your PA in decision making. I have found that four core words are much more powerful and effective than a rambling vision statement. Email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net if you would like my Core Values sample list.

PA’s cannot meet your management expectations without ongoing communication. Every doctor and every office are unique. How could the PA possibly know what you want them to do? Schedule adequate time to meet with your PA on a weekly basis. This will allow and opportunity for the doctor and PA to:

·     Focus on the big picture and long-term goals

·     Share thoughts and ideas

·     Discuss and problem solve

·     Review practice statistics and adjust goals

·     Share patients and team kudos and growth opportunities

·     Define marketing opportunities

·     Discuss current projects and timelines

·     Give feedback on PA’s performance

·     Support your PA when confronted by a team member

 

PA’s Role

The PA’s role is to support the vision of the doctor in words, actions, and attitude. Support by inspiring, engaging, and empowering the team to implement the doctor’s vision. Which is why it will be imperative for the We Team to meet on a weekly basis to get and stay aligned.

A PA’s role includes the following:

·     Sharing new ideas with the doctor

·     Monitoring practice statistics

·     Introducing new ideas to the team in a team meeting setting

·     Utilizing a process/system to implement the new ideas

·     Creating accountability processes

·     Resolving issues

·     Communicating with the entire team individually and as a group to keep everyone in the loop and aligned

·     Creative problem-solving schedule obstacles

PA’s capitalize on your first 90 days by meeting with each team member individually to build relationships. Review current systems and processes and ask for feedback from the team on what is working well and any obstacles. Implement new ideas that are a positive for the team and easily achievable. This will help your team view change more positively. Take time to communicate with the team daily to keep everyone aligned and in the loop. At least 30% of your time to be spent working with team members. Be transparent and follow through with what you said you would do to build high trust relationships. Schedule time for social outings to have some fun together which will go a long way in building good will for stressful times. Share your knowledge and expertise and provide resources to empower your team to succeed!

The We Team relationships that soar are those that consistently take time communicate what they need from each other to successfully co-lead.

 

June 1, 2020

The Human Side of Dentistry

I am blessed to have the privilege of working in the dental industry since the early 1980’s!  Working in the dental industry for many can become just a job!  We must never, even for a moment, disregard that we are human beings caring for the health of other human beings.  It is not just about fixing teeth.  There are humans attached to those teeth!  It is important that we focus on the human side of dentistry and become advocates for our patients’ health.

I would love to see every medical and dental team instilled with an advocate mindset.  However, many of us have experienced a caregiver objectifying a patient by treating them like an object than a human being.  For example, they make decisions for the patient instead of educating and asking questions to understand what matters to them.  They have conversations about them in front of them and act as if they aren’t present.

I had a not so human experience during a recent visit to a radiology department.  It started out great with the x-ray techs introducing themselves as they ushered me into the room and explaining the process.  However, all manners and niceties stopped when the doctor who was going to be taking the x-rays entered the room.  He did not slow down enough to take a moment to introduce himself or ask me if I had any questions before he started.  He proceeded to rapid fire commands at me and then walked out of the room without further discussion.  There was no compassion or connection.  I felt objectified.  As if I were just a task that he was in a hurry to complete.  I understand that this may be a daily routine for him, but it was not for me.

It is vital that we remember when we are caring for our dental patients that they are more than just a task to complete to get on to the next one so we can finish our day.  We are dealing with their health.  What may be routine for us may seem scary or concerning to them.  It is essential that we recognize the human side of what we do.  It is our responsibility to take time to develop meaningful relationships with our patients, which allow will allow us to provide better and more comprehensive care.  When we do this, we become an advocate for our patients’ dental health.

Here are five essentials to help you become your patients’ advocate.

 

  1. Be happy to serve. Do you seem happy to the people you serve, both team and patients?  Think about it for a moment.  Would your patients and team describe you as happy?  Do you greet others warmly with a smile?  Are you happy to come to work and grateful for what you get to do?  Do you focus on the positive and celebrate daily?

 

  1. Get to know the human attached to the teeth. Ask questions to get to know more about what’s important to your patient.  What has been their past experience?  What are their goals and desires for their dental health?  What are their concerns about treatment and what matters to them?

 

  1. Educate your patient by having a conversation not giving a presentation. That means asking and answering questions as you go along to avoid assumptions.  Stop the data dumping and present information in bite size pieces.  Avoid industry slang and communicate on their level.  Verify time, sequence, cost and compliance (what they need to do to support).

 

  1. Focus on the WIIFTP (What’s in it for the patient). Show up 100% by being present in the moment.  Always contemplate what would make your patient feel more welcome, more comfortable in the moment and help build a stronger relationship?  Keep your patients in the loop by informing them what you are doing and why.  It’s what we say or don’t say that creates the patient’s perception.  We lose value when we don’t let our patients know what we are doing.  If we don’t say it to the patient it doesn’t exist.  For example, when you do an oral cancer exam explain to your patient what you are doing and the reasons why.  Even for those patients you have seen for many years.  Inform them every time.  The why must always be a value statement highlighting the benefit for the patient not the practice or the team.

 

  1. Address complications as soon as possible. Come from a real place of care, concern and curiosity versus judgment and criticism.  Always consider what it might feel like if it happened to you.  How would you treat them if they were a family member?  Let me clarify, a family member you like!  LOL!  Start out by asking, “How may I help you?”  Then be present, listen and hear what they are saying.  Share with them how you can help them by saying, “I can help you and this is how.”

When we focus on being advocates for our patients, we will develop more meaningful relationships that will enable us to provide better and more comprehensive care to our patients.  A win for the patient, practice and team!

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