Archive for Dental Office Staff Management
If not, you are among the fortunate. I’ve got coaching stories that would cause you to “gasp” if you heard how some people act towards customers, team members and supervisors in professional settings. I bet you have one or two of your own. It seems that so many dental practices or businesses I interact with have at least one individual – often on the “front line” – who seem to have a chip on their shoulder or is carrying some kind of a cross that they want others to bear with them. They’re often wrong yet never in doubt!
To determine if you have a Sourpuss in your midst, consider the following:
- Look up, pay attention, and discover if there is anyone on your team not greeting guests like friends and family who visit your home. Anything less is a Sourpuss.
- Anonymously survey your team and the guests you serve. Be specific and ask in your survey if there are any Sourpusses in your midst. Oh my gosh – we don’t want to be so brash and frank. Yes you do as your business success demands it! Ok, change Sourpuss to “Grumpy” or some such word.
- Ask yourself privately this question regarding every person on your team: “When standing in front of this person and interacting with them, do I feel *more* or *less* energized and enriched for being in their presence?”
In our current economic environment, there is NO ROOM for a single Sourpuss in a successful, caring, customer-centered business!
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It can turn a business around as well.
Keep in mind…a bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t get very far until you change it. When you have to start compromising yourself and your values for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you. Herd them out of your business and your life.
Is There a Place to *Herd* Sourpusses?
Recently I was out taking my 3-mile power walk through my neighborhood on an unusually warm and sunny early afternoon, when I came upon an elderly man and women (funny I use this descriptor as I too am old) who were doing some spring clean-up in their front yard.
With a pleasant smile on my face, I called out to both of them, “Good afternoon to you both.” Together they looked up surprised. In a stern-like fashion, with cold eyes glued to mine, the wife blurted out to me, “What is there to feel nice about?” The husband, standing about 10 feet away, shook his head dumbfounded, almost apologetically…like he knew she was a nutcase.
I immediately stopped in my fast-paced tracks and looked directly into her cold eyes and said to her, “Ma’am, just about everything is good and I’m declaring this to be a great day.” I resumed my walk and, as I was passing her husband, I leaned into him and uttered in a quiet voice, “I don’t envy you!” His immediate reply, “Please take her off my hands.”
Now I know there will be some of you reading this who will share or lecture me the following platitude(s): “Hey Dr. Ron, cool your jets. You should be more loving and caring as everyone is carrying some kind of heavy load, or she’s having a bad day…blah, blah, blah.” I am proclaiming NONSENSE! How in the hell do you turn a “good afternoon” into a negative – particularly towards a swell guy like me simply walking down the sidewalk? Post Script: This is the third time this lady has barked out to me and/or my wife.
Please join me in declaring “I will not allow others to rain on my parade!” I am prohibiting sourpusses from invading my space and I am consciously surrounding myself with folks who inspire and believe the world looks brighter from behind a smile.
Sourpuss reminded me that you can’t change how people treat you or what they say to you. All you can do is shift how you react and whom you choose to be around. The next time I see Sourpuss, I intend to wish her a happy day regardless!
Be happy. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be.
Happiness is a choice.
What is the possibility that you might be able to induce more fun into your business or practice? Have you had traditions from years gone by that have faded away? What would it be like if you and your team put on your “creative Easter Bunny hats” (metaphorically speaking) and came up with some fun ideas for young and old?
Are you ready to have “Fun” at your team meetings? Here are some ideas…
- Have fresh flowers in a vase weekly to pass out to patients for making our day a pleasant one.
- At your huddle, have a “grab bag” filled with prizes to acknowledge a team member for a job well done yesterday. She/he gets to “grab” from the bag.
- Come dressed in costume to your team meeting.
- Have a meeting that consists only of successes – nothing negative.
- Hand out play money to the team members with good ideas. They can cash it in for prizes.
Did you know that a positive outlook does not depend on any particular circumstance? A positive outlook costs you nothing and, yet, it can bring you so very much. How can you be positive if everything is going wrong? A positive outlook is a great way to get things going right. You have to begin somewhere, don’t you? Why not positive instead of negative? You Can Never Be Too Old to Be Young!
The older I get the more I appreciate Thanksgiving. Consider this…..On the surface, what comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving?
Often our minds conjure up images of delicious turkey dinners with all the trimmings: potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, fruit salad, dinner rolls with butter…my mouth is watering already! (Remember, I’m the Turkey King.) Yet, in reality, is that what Thanksgiving is all about?
This year, perhaps more than most in recent past, is a time for all of us to commit to living our life out of a place of gratitude. Turn on the TV, read the newspaper, or glance at any of the magazine covers and you will be reminded of all the negative forecasts for the market, the ugliness in our politics, and even learn of what Nostradamus had predicted for us.
We have a choice: plan for our future and practice daily thankfulness or “buy into” all that is perceived as wrong with the world. I choose planning and thankfulness as I have read that when gratitude rules, grumbles dissolve.
It’s impossible to be grateful and angry, or sad, or discouraged at the same time. I believe we are in a unique position with our patients/clients and our families. We can, by intention and planning, help those we serve, including our employees to find reasons to be grateful. Grateful people are more resilient and have a much easier time overcoming obstacles. They don’t take others for granted.
In our businesses, we have the ability to make gratitude a “signature strength.” As business CEO’s, we get to set the example by planning out our new year on how we will regularly express our gratitude. By being thankful we make our practices and business different from all the others.
As the CEO, when we choose to live and practice our personal and business lives out of gratitude we will soon discover how others behave: they will feel inspired, energized, happy, eager to help our customers, and they will be much more content with themselves and their environment.
For years I have listened to my doctor clients as they disappointingly ask me, “My team always wants me to praise and acknowledge them, day in and day out, and yet, how come they never do the same for me?” I can tell, at times, they feel empty, unvalued and unappreciated. (Does this sound like the same comments and feelings echoed by the team?)
I know…to some this may sound like some sentimental, non-self-actualized, “woozy” doctor. However, stop for a minute and put yourself in their shoes. They are expected to be on their “A” game every day, have the proverbial smile on the face, always be aware of all the wonderful things the team is doing, and finding every opportunity to pat individuals on the back while acknowledging their performance.
Now, on the other side, the most effective Leaders are on their “A” game routinely, do wear an engaging smile every day, and are catching their team members doing things “right” and acknowledging them liberally.
So, what’s the big deal? I believe we are ALL drowning in information and starving for attention. As our world becomes more digitized and less “human touch,” we must, if we want a successful business and practice, create and live a culture where acknowledgement is the norm. Whether you are the Leader or an employee, anyone too busy to say thank you or who fails to look for opportunities to acknowledge team members will get fewer and fewer chances to say it.
I was recently “gifted” by my clients when they individually offered up positive comments and accolades about their personal experiences with my coaching. The result was a glow of appreciation unmatched and an inspiration to do even more for them.
You may want to ask yourself: “Who can I acknowledge today?” It can be a co-worker, your boss, a spouse, your kids, or even a patient.
Recently I had a coaching call with one of my very professional and very quality-oriented clients regarding what is acceptable performance in his office. He has a talented team. He has high expectations. He felt he has shared those expectations with clarity to his team. However, the day before he was to deliver a comprehensive treatment plan and consultation with one of his patients, he was presented with these ‘diagnostic and professional’ mounted study models by one of his clinical staff.
I ask you (if you are a dental professional reading this…perhaps even if you are not in the dental field):
- Do they look ‘Okay’ to you?
- Do you think my client thought they were ‘Okay’?
- Do you believe they would be ‘Okay’ to use to present quality dentistry to a patient?
When is Okay, Okay in our professions? I hope never.
What advice would you have to share with my client on how to handle this situation in his practice? What would you do to make certain a lackadaisical attitude does not permeate your team?
If you are interested in taking my simple “Is Okay Okay?” assessment, click here.
As a “Secret Agent,” certified by the DiJulius Group, I have encouraged my clients to establish a special system in their practice that takes advantage of Visual and Auditory cues from their patients…guests (a term coined by my client, Dr. Imm). That is, every member of the team needs to be a DETECTIVE to be on the lookout for those “things” (preferences, life values, and/or preferences that are impactful for your guests).
We become detectives for F.O.R.D...
- F (family)
- O (occupation)
- R (recreation…things that interest your guests)
- D (dreams and desires)
Just like my daughters, Ashley & Brianne, who identified what Dad values and appreciates (as I shared in my last post) and then either delivers that or supports that or acknowledges that is what F.O.R.D. can do for your practice. Imagine if you instituted a system (if not already in place) where you collect important information about your guest’s family, occupation, recreation interests and their life dreams and then address these important elements with them when they are visiting your office? It’s called relationship building.
Your practice will be like no other in your area…GUARANTEED.
I know most will say: “This is common sense and we do all that and our patients love us.”
Coach Ron says: “Common sense is uncommonly practiced.” Why not take an inventory to determine how consistently you and your team F.O.R.D. your guests and what do you do with it?
Want more? If you really want to learn and care…Simply ask me for more.
My last blog post about my 40 Year Celebration was intended to inspire and support you in identifying what you and your team might want to celebrate. Why not take 30 minutes in your next team meeting or create a special CELEBRATION Gathering where you list the things you have to be proud of, feel good about, what you have accomplished over the past year or less? Use this as a time to exercise your gratitude and acknowledgement muscles…this time on yourselves. What obstacles have you overcome? What can we acknowledge as a team that will inspire us to achieve our next set of objectives?
Below are a few CELEBRATION ideas:
- Founding of the practice – How many years in business?
- Longevity of individual team members
- Best production/collection year ever in practice
- Community involvement
- New facility or remodel of existing facility
- Low percentage of employee turnover
- Professional awards, designations or recognition by doctor and/or team members
- Thriving, not just surviving, the recent recession
What do you have to be grateful for? What needs to be acknowledged? How can you recognize milestones that are important? Kool & The Gang reminded us in their lyrics:
It’s time to come together. It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure? Everyone around the world come on!
Celebrating teams are happy teams and are your best marketing assets! Do you have a favorite team celebration ritual? I would love to hear about it in the comments here, or on my facebook page.
Last week I shared a poem about accountability, “Everybody, Somebody, Nobody & Anybody” with you. This week I would like to share how we can we apply the lessons Heather shared with her team in our practices and businesses.
- Hire Right and identify, in simple terms, what you expect from each of your team members. Articulate this in your Office Manual – get professional help here.
- Identify your measurables so you take the “emotions” out of human resource management. Be VERY specific. When you assign a task (or ask a team member to handle a project), spell it out in detail: What you want, when you want it, why you need it, and what the outcome might look like. Scorekeeping is a powerful way to have employees show one another and their doctor whether they are achieving objectives.
- Accountability requires follow-up and consequences. Consequences need to be clear, deliberate and offered as close to the behavior as possible. The performance tracking must be simple enough and visual enough that everyone can tell at a glance whether they are winning or losing.
- NOTE: It’s the consequences that routinely get us into trouble. God forbid we upset a team member or they should be angry or disagree with us. Consequences need to be appropriate, as close to immediate as possible, and specific. Most think consequences are negative. Oh contraire readers…Consequences, for exemplary behaviors, are positive, encouraging and supportive or they can be the antithesis where remediation is required (this is the tough part for most of us). I strongly coach my clients when they catch fabulous behaviors, behaviors that support the practice’s Core Values, to heap positive consequences on their team members. When the behaviors do not support the practice values, we MUST take action to remind everyone we mean business and must support our values.
Heather set the stage to remind us that we are ALL accountable and anything less than that is a “disguise” for not being responsible.
If you would like further discussion around consequences and how to apply to your business, please join in our conversation in my New LinkedIn Group just for Dentists and Dental Practitioners.
In my last post about a recent trip to Costco, I wrote about my experience with Trish and her shining example of service excellence. How do you find the Trish’s for your dental business? How do you get your team members to behave like Trish? Is the service “bug” in all of us?
- You must HIRE RIGHT which means:
- Create and write your Service Vision and passionately live it in the presence of everyone.
- Create an Ideal Employee Profile so you will know exactly what you are looking for in your service-oriented employee.
- Be prepared to interview 25 candidates to find the “right” one.
- You define what your level of service looks like, as to one employee a five-star hotel may be a Red Roof Inn and to another, a five-star will be the Ritz.
- You must devote at least 50% of your training time to the “soft skills” and the remainder to the technical skills.
- You must test them on their newly learned skills with a minimum level of performance.
- REPEAT the above annually.
- Only hire the ones who do!