Archive for Dental Coaching


Make Time to Reward Team Members

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Dental CEO’s, how can YOU take the time to care for your team members?

What are you willing to do to acknowledge others? For many years, bosses thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to motivate workers. Research over the past two decades, however, confirms something else.

The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.

Here is a Coaching suggestion – Establish Guidelines For Rewarding Team Members

ideas for dental team recognition1. Match the reward to the person. We are all different, so notice that what serves as a reward for one person may not work for another. Get to know your people so you know what turns them on. Pay attention to non-verbal reactions when you reward people. Ask team members what they think would make great rewards.

2. Match the reward to the event. Give small rewards for small actions; larger rewards for more important achievements. Remember the power of a simple “Thank You” to acknowledge a team member.

3. Be specific. When you witness a behavior that you want to reinforce, describe exactly what you noticed. For example, “Pat, I noticed that you were able to calm Mr. Rocker’s nerves about the new root canal procedure. The procedure went much smoother because you took the time to soothe his fears. Thanks.”

4. When you see it, say it. Don’t wait. The time is right when you notice the action or event that helpedGift the team or a patient. Waiting dulls memories and expectations.

5. Build in flexibility. Develop a fixed reward system that allows everyone to participate in receiving recognition. Then, introduce a second system that allows for “on the spot” rewards. This can be something as simple as a certificate for lunch at a local fast-food eatery or a silver dollar. Fixed rewards inspire team members to set individual goals, while a flexible reward system allows for “creative actions” – yours and theirs.

6. Package rewards like gifts. A box with fancy wrapping is more exciting than a ho-hum plain brown envelope. Create a “pretty package” around your words when recognizing an achievement.

7. Allow for spontaneity. Add some zest to your reward system. Single out individuals for a special reward one time; at another time, reward the entire team. Keep it fresh by doing something different each time. Team members will be challenged to stay on their toes, and will be excited when they are rewarded.

Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done, or for meeting a performance goal is not a luxury. It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice.

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Dental CEO’s How Different are You? (Part 2)

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While the analogy is not as stark as the one I described last week, it seems to me that in the “sea-of-sameness” and mediocrity, we must be strategizing our business model in ways that allow us to distinguish ourselves from others.

how to make your dental practice stand outSo how are you different from “the other doctor’s offices” in your community?

Below are some suggested questions to either ask yourself and/or your entire team at a monthly meeting. I believe you will discover the answers are more challenging to come by than you might think.

  • What do you do or how do you behave that sets you apart from the others?
  • How do your patients/guests make the distinction between you and the others?
  • What in your 15-second elevator speech attracts a prospect to you?
  • Describe what is uniquely YOU in your marketing materials and marketing initiatives?
  • Where do you educate your team to be “different?”
  • When will you devote at least 50% of your CE budget to “soft skill” training?

How Different Are You?

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Expanding Your Dental Practice Through Referrals

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Where does most of your business come from? Most dentists will answer with “by word-of-mouth.” However, very few dentists have a strategy for increasing word-of-mouth business.

Many simply “pray” for referrals. Unfortunately, that’s not enough.

growth strategy for dentists

Referrals are to the dental practice are what base hits are to baseball players.

What’s your batting average? Are you getting your share of hits?

How good are you and your team at generating new patient referrals?

Take this free assessment, and come back here to rate yourself at how well you do.

How well did you do? Successful doctors find that the higher they rate as a referral collector, the higher their production and subsequently the higher their practice income.

Scoring: Add up the number of YES answers that you checked off above. A score of:
• 12 to 13 is off the chart fantastic—your practice is likely generating plenty of New Patients. You and your team have a strategy in place. Take a bow.
• 10 to 11 is very good—not bad. You’re doing better than most dentists in generating New Patients through your referral efforts.
• 9 is good—just a little more effort and you have the potential to elevate your practice to levels of profitability and satisfaction.
• 8 is average—how important is it to be mediocre?
• Below 8 is a red flag. To continue growing your practice and your income you may want to take steps immediately to improve your referral strategies.

Never confuse motion with action. Frequently, many of us have wonderful intentions to move forward on a project or an idea and then get “bogged down” in a lot of activity without making progress towards the completion of our goal.

Set aside time with your team to create the strategies, to develop the scripts and the communication skills that will increase your practice referrals. Following this approach will assure you that the actions you take will produce the results you want…more new patients, a happier office, and increased income.

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Your customer EXPERIENCE is your “Competitive Advantage”!

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Buying a bunch of “technology” for your practice, while important for the delivery of your care, has much less impact on your patient’s desire to continue care with you and your team. It’s the “experience” your patients experience.

Bonuses will never get the wrong person to do the right things. It’s the “experience” your team members get to feel. The easiest way to create a memorable event…provide lousy service. When you customize a service delivery you automatically create an “experience” (Hazelnut coffee with the patients favorite flavored creamer prepared for them). Teach the team to “stage” the “experience” like it is theatre (singing Happy Birthday while delivering a card or balloons at the end of their appointment).

grow dental practiceIf your business disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice?

World-class is expecting the unexpected. Consider creating the position of Vice President of Memory Making; offer your team a Secret Service Allowance from $25-$100 per month per team member to be used at their discretion (consistent with your practice Core Values) and to be fully spent every month. The design of these ideas is to encourage your team to create “experiences” that your guests will never forget.

Coaching Action: devote a section of your monthly team meeting to “turning ordinary into extraordinary”. Come up with ways to make your guests visits a true “experience”.

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Core Values and Vision: Business Jargon or Real Direction? (Part 2)

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As we talked about last month, the best and most essential way to create a positive, interactive dental workplace is by creating two critically important documents. The first is a value-centered set of guiding principles and the second is a clear vision statement.

Dental Business VisionCore Values Guide Your Actions.

• What you will or will you not do?
• What is a right or wrong action?
• What are the rules you live by?
• What are your principles or boundaries?
• What will you take a stand for? (If nothing, are all actions acceptable?)
• What do you ask of others?

It is important to work with a team of people whose core values reflect your own. Your business philosophy comes from a basic respect for each employee’s unique needs and talents…including your own.

Once your Core Values are in writing the next step is articulating your Vision Statement. Again, the doctor must be the one to identify the vision for the practice. This is not a group effort. While some “guru’s” would have you believe that the team needs to be involved, to participate, to get many perspectives, to be one with the universe. However, the reality is, over many years the doctor is often the only sustaining team member.

Staff members come and go but the doctor is often the only remaining constant. This vision is the real direction of the practice. Now that doesn’t mean that others may have an input, it simply means that the final direction is the responsibility of the CEO.

“Vision, like self-confidence, isn’t achieved by taking a pill or reading a book. A sense of vision
grows out of a set of values, experiences, individual reflections, and organizational wisdom and direction. If we see how our work supports and contributes to the larger vision, our work will seem more meaningful and can be more directed. ~ Jerry Moskus

Similar question: what is a Vision, how do I identify it, how do I make it compelling, and how does it impact my team and my office?

Your Vision is a colorful description of how the future of your business will be. It must capture the imagination so that your employees are prepared to devote themselves to transforming that vision into a reality. A compelling vision enables employees to feel that the end results are worthwhile; it gives a sense of direction; and it provides criteria so that employees can judge what is important or irrelevant.

Your task: to write, in not more than fifty words, a compelling vision for your business. Imagine this will be presented to every employee at a special team meeting.

Use these questions to give you focus as you write your Vision:

1. What is your practice especially good at doing?
2. How are you doing competitively?
3. What changes do you expect to see in the demand for your services over the next 3-5 years?
4. What other organizations do you consider ahead of you?
5. What do these more successful businesses have that you do not have?
6. What do you use to judge success and how well are you satisfied that you are measuring important criteria?
7. What books or resources can I “tap” to galvanize my thoughts?

In addition, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to help you to clarify, articulate, and “see” your Vision.

1. What do I want my life to be like?
2. What do I want my practice to be like?
3. What type of patients do I want?
4. What behaviors from staff and patients do I want?
5. What kind of dental care do my patients require and expect?
6. What kind of facility do I want?
7. What impact will my team have on my success?
8. How can I identify and support all my stakeholders?
9. What are my feelings about profitability and financial success?
10. How would I want to interact with my team and our patients?
11. What would my patients tell me and others about my practice?
12. What would I say about my Dream Practice every morning when I walk in the office?
13. How would my patients feel about coming to my practice?
14. What else do I need to address or include that will inspire my team?

So, your Vision, supported by your Core Values serves as a compass. It lets you know where you are and what direction to go in when faced with several options. It is generally a lofty, inspiring statement of the ultimate destination of your practice. Ultimately it will enable you to: 1) Identify the very best destination. Do not settle for the second best option. 2) Support the highest principles that will guide your actions. 3) Describe the “big picture.” And 4) Identify outcomes you hope/intend to achieve.

Then utilize those documents to reinforce the values and goals of the practice. It is important that all team members own the core values and vision of the practice.

Every communication in the practice (e.g. all documents and policies) should be crafted around and support the values and vision. After creating the values and vision, team meetings and workshops need to be held on a regular basis to discuss progress in applying the shared values.

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Have you ever played Whack-a-Mole at your office?

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You’ve planned and are looking forward to having a remarkably productive first month of the year to set the stage for an amazing 2015 and…

contingency planning for dental ceo

  1. Monday morning your Chairside Assistant calls in sick 20 minutes before your first patient who is scheduled with you for a three-hour appointment!
  2. You have your most productive and interesting day of the month going smoothly until 10:45 a.m. when your air compressor craps out! The repairman can’t get to you until tomorrow.
  3. You have Mrs. Smith sitting in the chair at 8:00 am to seat six anterior veneers, and two minutes into your welcoming conversation with her, you’re informed that the veneers are not here!
  4. You’ve seated the denture yesterday and Mr. Brown was delighted with the fit, feel and appearance. You patted yourself on the back because it was a challenging case. It’s now 4:50 p.m. and your Appointment Coordinator advises you that Mr. Brown is coming in right now because his wife hates the color of his teeth and the dentures makes him look hideous!

If you have never experienced any or all or some permutation of these, you obviously have just graduated from dental school and have not had the opportunity to experience “life”.

It happens to all of us…that Whack-a-Mole process where by we think we have taken care of that ornery mole and then he pops his head up again in some other place. Just when we think we have everything under control, he pops his head up again! Uggggh!

Click here to read more about Whack-a-Mole Dentistry.


The Top 10 Ways to Empower Your Employees

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The word empower is often over-used. Many employers talk about empowering their employees but often employees feel dis-empowered.

Here’s a list of the top 10 things you can do that will really empower your employees, according to employees, not employers!

dental staff accountability

1. Allow employees to actively participate in team and company goals. Look for every opportunity to include employees at every level of the organization, in being active participants. Employees often report getting one-way directives instead.

2. Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees’ comments. Employees often report that they have no input and are told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.

3. Provide positive reinforcement. Always listen and acknowledge your employees. Employees often report that their decisions and actions are second-guessed and that most, if not all, feedback given is negative.

4. Clearly delegate responsibility and give the employees authority along with the responsibility. Do you give inconsistent messages? Do you ask the employee to handle a problem or project and then give them negative feedback or give them an assignment and then say “never-mind?” Employees often report that they are given tasks and then told they did it wrong.

5. Be clear in your communication. When you express goals or explain projects, be sure the employees really understand what you are asking for. Employees often report that the goals are unclear and that they are not sure what they are being asked to do.

6. Show you have trust in your employees. Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really ok to make mistakes. Let them know you really support their decisions. Employees often report that someone is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do things right.

7. Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you do most of the talking? Employees often report that conversations are one way, comprised mostly of their ideas being criticized. They don’t feel they are heard.

8. Be interested in the employees’ career development. Meet with employees and discover their goals and their wants. Employees often report that their goals are not viewed as important in the organization.

9. Let the employees help you achieve success. Are you doing it all yourself? Employees often report that their managers do all the tasks and that they have no way to make contributions outside their job descriptions. Look for opportunities to delegate and enhance the employees’ career development at the same time.

10. Be a coach. The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees often report feeling like children rather than being on the same team with their bosses.

Be their coach and lead the team to success!

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The Hazards of Postponing

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Procrastination is the line that divides the 4% from the 96% of the health care professionals that reach Economic Freedom by the age of 65.

Economic Freedom is the day you have a safe and reliable portfolio that produces your desired standard of living for the rest of your life. This is the day you go to work because you want to, not because you have to.

growth strategy for dentists

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m going to get to that next week,” but next week comes and goes. The reality for many of us is that we are inclined to “put-off” those activities that we believe will require a lot of our energy, take a lot of our time or cost us money.

Many times we will postpone an activity because we imagine it might be uncomfortable. What I have discovered is that we avoid moving forward in many cases due to fear. Fear and misperception is an anchor to success. Even when we know the consequences of avoiding this behavior may not be in our best interest, many of us still hesitate.

We have discovered throughout our lives that there are consequences for our every behavior and action. Some consequences are incidental while others have the ability to impact our lives forever. I have learned that when we confront our fears, commit to an objective and then manage the perceived discomfort, we then have the capacity to prescribe the consequences.

Procrastination is a decision. It’s a decision to do nothing. It’s immobilizing. To allow our future to unfold with no direction often comes with painful consequences. In both my personal and professional life I learned that when I took the attitude of “I’ll get to that next week, next month or when I can make the time”, the consequences were generally costly. I have seen many examples in dental offices. The doctor who had every intention to implement the most current OSHA regulations but never quite got around to it. The office was inspected and the fines were consequential. The dentist who had intended to develop a regular policy of employee performance reviews but failed to get around to it. The repercussion resulted in undirected, unmotivated and unproductive employees. “My monthly collections have been fluctuating around 91%”, proclaimed one of our clients. “One of these days I’m going to have to set up a firm financial program for the office”. Her consequences were expensive. . . poor cash flow, inability to grow the practice and an under-compensated doctor.

I see dentists and other health care professionals who practice this same “some day I’ll get to it” philosophy when it applies to their economics. They fail to develop a context or a game plan around their money. They neglect to factor in the painless and insidious affects of inflation on their purchasing dollars. The consequences effect them the rest of their lives. They discover, in many cases when it’s too late, that they cannot live their retirement years out of choice. For many they will live their lives out of desperation.

It is because of this lack of planning that only 3% of the American population and 4% of the dental community is able to retire at the same level they had become accustomed to prior to retirement. They must continue to work because they must not because they want to.

We know that when couples and individuals develop a framework and a discipline around their economics and then commit to a game plan that’s coordinated with an investment strategy that the consequences are Economic Freedom. It’s a lifelong ability to live our lives out of choice, exactly the way we want, free of the constraints of money. That’s what creates economic peace of mind and the results are enduring. Positive consequences are the results when we eliminate the “some day I’ll” baggage and educate ourselves to the unfamiliar. When we begin to manage our anxiety is when we become free to make choices. Procrastination is not a harbor of comfort, it’s our nemesis.

When we elevate economic freedom to a must priority, it comes with no conditions. The results are predictable. Positive outcomes. Peace of mind to live our lives and operate our practices exactly the way we want them, free of the constraints of money. We can procrastinate or we can plan. We can “get to it someday” or we can begin today. It’s your call. Plan your plan.

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Number One Way to Grow Your Practice in 2015 and Beyond

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Make Recognizing Your Team Members a Daily Habit

The number one challenge facing my clients is staff! Every day, I am coaching them around ideas to get them to show up on time, to contribute to the expansion of the practice, how to motivate, terminate, and generally be more productive to the practice. For many years, dentists thought that cash bonuses, higher salaries, or an expanding menu of benefits was all it took to motivate workers. Research over the past decade, however, confirms something else.

Dental practice work life balance

The two motivational factors most mentioned by employees were not salary and benefits, but rather an interesting job and recognition for doing that job well.

Recognizing and rewarding team members for a job well done or for meeting performance goals are no longer a luxury. It is a basic requirement for strong teams, higher productivity, and a more effective practice.

Consider the following Top 5 Tips to make the process of recognizing your employees a regular and daily habit

1. Four-Quarter Technique: at the beginning of the day put four quarters in your right pocket. During the course of the day “look for” team members doing something “right.” At that moment, stop, acknowledge them with praise and then you can transfer one quarter to your other pocket. Foolish you might think? It’s a simple, yet effective way to create a positive habit guaranteed to earn the respect and praise from your team.
2. Create Awards: Use awards to make people feel special. Awards are symbols that outwardly demonstrate recognition for a positive attitude. The more you reward a positive attitude, the more the practice attracts in happy patients and co-workers. Example: Energizer Bunny Award. Use a pink bunny to recognize the achievement of specific goals that required someone to keep going, and going….
3. Hand Write Notes: write a note at the end of the day to an employee who has done something remarkable, or saved you time or embarrassment, or went the extra mile. A simple “thank you” or “I appreciate you” is powerful to the soul. You may even send this note of acknowledgement to the spouse, parent, or significant other for added emphasis and encouragement.
4. Tell team members why they are important. People who understand that their efforts make a difference to the success of the team want to make sure their team “wins”. Let everyone know how important they are – everyday! Make this simple daily task one of your daily and weekly “to do” list.
5. Leave a Message: when a team member does something remarkable of note worthy call their voice mail at home or their cell phone and leave a message of praise and acknowledge them for a job well done. If you’re to busy during the day, do it on the way home from your cellular phone. Don’t be surprised if they don’t save the message and replay for their friends and family…or perhaps to hear again and again.

The attraction and retention of dental auxiliaries are increasing concerns for my clients and many dental business owners—and the situation is only expected to get worse as baby boomers grow older and retire from the workforce. Retaining workers in a competitive market requires an office environment that is supportive, caring and stands out from the rest. This will require an attitude of gratitude. The doctor will need to become more “consciously grateful” for the contribution of employees.

How can you show your employees you care and, in the process, develop a loyal workforce? Recognition and rewards come in all shapes and sizes. They can be formal (part of a planed program) or informal (given spontaneously). They can be free (a warm smile and a sincere “thank you”), simple (a single red rose in a bud vase for each staff member at the end of a productive week), or elaborate (a team one-day trip to Atlantic city).

Suggestion: Celebrate what you want to see more of. Determine what you want to see more of, less of, expanded, improved, eliminated, or modified. Then acknowledge that behavior. So what two things will you celebrate today? Take the next step and implement a simple system of recognition and acknowledgement in your office.

If you simply use the five ideas listed above you will be well on your way to creating a more appreciative atmosphere in your office. Do one of them today and observe the positive results.

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Creating a Dental Office Where People Want To Come To Work

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In their book, How Full Is Your Bucket?, Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton provide the student of practice management with a powerful lesson in understanding human potential and motivation. The metaphor in this book suggests that each person carries an invisible bucket of emotions, along with a dipper, which he or she can use to either add to other people’s buckets or to dip from them. In the end, research shows that filling someone else’s bucket benefits both parties — the person who gave the praise and the person who received it.

dental staff accountabilityThe Gallup Organization surveyed almost 4 million workers on the topics of recognition and praise. Some of the startling results:

• 65% of people reported receiving no recognition on the job last year,
• an estimated 22 million workers are “actively disengaged,” or extremely negative in their workplace.

Those practices smart enough to recognize the impact of employee satisfaction and have begun offering recognition and praise report see the following results:

• increased individual productivity—higher income to the practice and team
• better safety records/fewer accidents on the job—reduced costs to the practice
• employees stay with the practice longer—HUGE cost savings to the practice
• higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers—positively impacts the bottom line with increased revenues to the practice.

Consider the following strategies, adapted from the Gallup organization, that you can take now. The many small interactions or moments that make up your day — approximately 20,000 moments by one study’s count — weigh in on either the positive or negative side. These moments influence who we are, how we feel, and how we perform.

Here are five strategies for reducing the negativity in your culture:

1. Prevent “Bucket Dipping.” Increase your own awareness of how often your comments are negative. Work toward a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative.

2. Shine a Light on What Is Right. Try focusing on what employees or peers do right rather than where they need improvement, and discover the power of reinforcing good behaviors.

3. Make Good Friends. People with good friends at work have better safety records, receive higher customer satisfaction scores, and increase workplace productivity.

4. Give Unexpectedly. A recent poll showed that the vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.

5. Modify the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. Instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you should “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Individualization is key when filling others’ buckets.

Talk to your team; rid yourself of “stinkin-thinkin”; and by all means put yourself in charge of your morale. If you allow attitudes in your office go sour, your employees will be mentally down and out. Create higher expectations; take charge of filling people’s buckets; Act upbeat, and you and your team will feel better, perform better, and……… will create a dental office where people will want to come to work.

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