Does this sound familiar?
Your 11:00 patient has arrived on time. Unfortunately, your 9:00 patient is still in the chair, you’re running behind and you still have two hygiene patients to check.
Everyone from the patient in the chair to the team to the patient in the reception area are impacted. Stressful, for sure. You vow to tease this apart at your next team meeting and figure out what went wrong. You run to the team lounge and make a note on the agenda list, What’s wrong with the schedule that we’re running behind – figure it out!
Two days later as the team gathers for the weekly one-hour team meeting, you pull the agenda list from the lounge. As the meeting begins, you ask, “What’s wrong with the schedule that we’re running behind?” Your question is met with the deafening sounds of silence. “Anyone have any ideas here? What do you think the problem is?” You realize you’re looking at the tops of everyone’s heads. They do not want to make eye contact and be put on the spot to weigh in and risk getting thrown under the bus. How can you create solutions when the team won’t weigh in and help you create solutions?
PIVOT Point: Strategy
My Dad always said, “If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, ask better questions.” Time to hit the reset button and change your strategy. I recommend two new strategies to create a breakthrough for you and your team. [Page 24 in PIVOT]
#1 Set your team up for success [The CAUSE strategy]
C Create an agenda that supports your team to grow beyond their circumstances
A Avoid the blame game. Search for innovative solutions rather than excuses
U Understand the real issue at hand. Are you dealing with facts or opinions?
S Set your team up for success by starting the meeting on a positive note with great energy
E Engage with your team to do the pre-work for the meeting so everyone comes to the meeting ready to contribute solutions. Have their backs.
#2 The FIRST 20% Solution
The most common approach to problem-solving is to focus on the result and work right there where the problem became apparent, the train derailed and the system failed. The trouble with that approach is that the problem actually occurred long before the train derailed. It’s in re-evaluating the actions in the first 20% of the process, before the train ever left the tracks, that you’ll find the opportunities for positive changes that will create a better result.
Funny coincidence, Bradley Cooper learns the value of the First 20% solution in the movie Burnt. I’d love to hear from you if you, too recognize the First 20% lesson in the movie. I’ll leave you with this, “The difference between school and life: School teaches you lessons and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and you learn the lessons.”
First Step… Celebrate Your Successes!
There are five fundamentals of PIVOT Leadership. This post will focus on Strategy. Click this link to the article, Go Right Ahead, Play Favorites that addresses where your leadership focus should be to celebrate the high performers on your team. Today we’ll talk about the how to celebrate and come alive in your practice. Here we go….
“Seems like as soon as we reach one goal, we move onto the next goal. I think our practice could do a better job of giving us that high-five feeling when we’ve earned it.” Brave words from a team member during a recent meeting.
- Could one of your team members be feeling the same way?
- As the practice leaders, could you do a better job of celebrating success and encouraging your team to celebrate each other?
Who doesn’t love a celebration? I especially like when I see team members recognizing one another for great work by sharing their ‘wins’ from the day before. This is one of my favorite parts of my client on-sites and Skype meetings.
“Tell me something good” is a key fundamental strategy for success as well as an uplifting way to start each day and celebrate each quarter with your team. Below I’ll take you through the 5 Steps to Celebrating Your Success Team Meeting.
5 Steps to Celebrating Your Success Team Meeting
Step #1 Schedule a special team meeting
The first quarter [Q1] of the year begins with holiday celebration, fanfare, party hats and noisemakers. This is a time when many teams focus on strategic planning and thoughtful intention for the new year. It’s high time we give some attention to the start of the second quarter [Q2], too. Let’s start with recognizing and celebrating your Q1 wins.
Step #2 Create a fun atmosphere in your meeting room
Celebration meetings should not look the same as every other team meeting and usually involve festive foods. You could bring in lunch or snacks, decorate with balloons or noisemakers. Some teams choose snacks like fruit, yogurt, or crudité while others go for nuts, candy, and chocolate. You could also decorate with small potted plants that the team members can take home. This is also a good time to plan a fun activity for the team during the meeting.
Step #3 Brainstorming Time
Let the team know it’s important to you that the team recognizes and celebrates success and you realize that some ‘wins’ are obvious to the entire team, yet many times a team member has a personal win the rest of the team would love to know about. Then, break into smaller groups, give each group a copy of the Celebrating Your Success worksheet attached and have them begin their brainstorming session. Each team’s challenge is to create a list of the accomplishments [big & small] that you as individuals and as a team have accomplished in Q1 and identify how you achieved your results.
Step #4 Synergize
After about ten minutes, bring the small groups back together so you can share your lists. Have a large sheet of easel or butcher paper and sharpies available. Draw straws to see which team will create the main list on the large paper and then have the other teams call out their ‘wins’ and together create one long list. *Tip: Brainstorming is most successful when it begins in small groups and you’ll build momentum as you come back together. * Chances are the group will think of more accomplishments as you synergize to create this one big list. more accomplishments.
a. Talk about how you made these achievements happen
b. Encourage team members to share details of the most meaningful patient connections they had in the previous month.
c. Clapping and cowbell celebrations should be encouraged too!
d. When discussing the team behaviors and actions that went into these special moments and practice wins be sure to notice any recurring themes. This exercise sets the stage for establishing Q2 strategies goals and we’ll talk about that in next week’s email blog.
Step #5 The Take Aways
Our lives are enriched by the quality of our relationships. Look for opportunities to build the quality of your team relationships. Yes, this takes time, but less than you may think. Begin every day by sharing “what was great about yesterday” so you authentically create an atmosphere that supports and encourages the team to raise the bar on their connections with each other and with patients. Like a new pair of shoes, it may feel awkward in the beginning. Stick with it. One day you’ll notice you all have come to love this strategy for team success. Ask me how I know ☺
To get you started please download my Accomplishments by Quarter Worksheet.
I was having coffee recently with a new client and wanted to get to know him and his leadership style. He is working on getting better at doing the ‘4 things employees really want’ [PIVOT page 8].
Does this conversation sound familiar?
I asked him how things were going back in the practice.
“Awesome”, he replied, “the change in the team is incredible, people are excited about what we’re doing. I just love the can-do energy.” Then with a little wince and a wink, he said, “Well, except for one person, I’m so frustrated with her negativity.”
Compassionately, I asked him to tell me more about what was frustrating him.
“It’s the same thing all the time, Ginny.” The sarcasm in his voice was palpable as he continued, “She has been in dentistry for over 30 years. She knows what she’s doing. She doesn’t need to change a thing. She’s vocal about how she feels and it brings the rest of the team down. I’m really trying to engage with my team, learn from their ideas and hold them accountable. Her behavior is like a wet blanket on this goal.”
I asked more questions trying to understand how this was playing out.
“Well, she seems to be onboard when our meetings first start. Then at some point, she starts talking with the people closest to her and it’s like she’s holding her own separate meeting. I have to keep reigning her back in, it’s exhausting.”
Accountability isn’t just about results – it’s about behaviors.
It seemed to me that the doctor had resigned himself to this pattern of disruption so I asked him if he had spoken with the employee about her behavior? “What’s the point? She’s been with the practice for 36 years, what’s a few more years of dealing with this before she retires?”
We talked about the likelihood that this employee’s behavior was impacting others on the team. It’s not about the doctors sucking it up ‘for a few more years.’ This behavior will have a negative impact on the team and practice growth. I reminded the doctor of four of the core values the team had established: Respect, Flexibility, Growth, Positive Team Spirit. Clearly, this employee’s behavior was not in line with these values.
I asked the doctor the KEY QUESTION at hand, “Do you want to change the values – or change the behavior?”
He chose to uphold the values. In that decision, a smile came over his face, “Wow, this is now so clear to me. If I allow her behavior to continue, I’m a hypocrite. My actions would not be upholding the core values any more than hers do.”
We had reached our learning moment. “Ok, Ginny I’m ready. Tell me how I can be a better leader and resolve this problem.”
Be the change you want to see
This clear and immediate shift in the doctor’s mindset was the key to positive change. When he could shift from feeling and acting like a victim of his circumstances to the realization that, as the practice leader he was letting down everyone else on the team when he tolerated the employee’s disruption, he had the fortitude to become the change he wants to see in his practice.
What are your non-negotiables?
In his perennial New York Times bestseller, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey speaks to the power of strongly held core values in the following true story he learned of while reading the Naval Proceedings Magazine:
It was a dark and stormy night.
Crewmember: “Captain, Captain, wake up.”
Crewmember: “Sorry to wake you, sir, but we have a serious problem.”
Captain: “Well what is it?”
Crewmember: “There’s a ship in our sea lane about twenty miles away, and they refuse to move.”
Captain: “What do you mean they refuse to move? Just tell them to move.”
Crewmember: “Sir, we have told them; they will not move.”
Captain: “I’ll tell them.”
The signal goes out: “Move starboard 20 degrees.”
The signal returns: “Move starboard yourself 20 degrees.”
Captain: “I can’t believe this. Well, I mean I’m a captain. Let them know who I am. I’m important.”
Signal goes out: “This is Captain Horatio Hornblower XXVI, commanding you to move starboard 20 degrees at once.”
Signal returns: “This is Seaman Carl Jones II, commanding you to move starboard 20 degrees at once.”
Captain: “What arrogance? I mean, what presumption? Here is a seaman commanding me, a captain. We could just blow them right out of the water. We could just let them know who we are.
Signal: “This is the Mighty Missouri, flagship of the 7th fleet.”
The signal returns: “This is the lighthouse.”
Dr. Covey goes on to explain that in life there are certain lighthouse principles and you cannot break these principles, you will only break yourself against them.
As the practice leader, you always have a choice! You can’t keep employees from acting out, but how you respond to any situation will determine the experience you and your team will have, positive or negative. Establish your lighthouse principle, hold people accountable for their behavior and you’ll earn your positive culture one day at a time.
As we left the restaurant, we agreed that the entire team, including the employee at hand, would benefit from the doctor’s clarity and strong leadership. He said, “Ginny, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I think I just made a very important PIVOT and it’s only 8am!”
What would 202% mean to you?
How does engagement impact productivity? First, we have to ask, what it is that inspires team members to go above and beyond? What is it that takes work ethic to the next level and has your team offering their head, hands, and hearts in support of your vision for the practice? And, why does this matter?
The Dale Carnegie organization did an assessment that showed businesses with employees that could be identified as “engaged” outperformed their counterparts with “disengaged” employees by up to 202%. Take a moment and do the math, what would 202% improvement in productivity and revenue mean to you and your practice?
Let’s be very conservative and make it easy, what would 10% of that look like?
At 10% a practice currently collecting $100,000 per month would see an increase of $10,000 per month translating into $120,000 annually. Do you think your team could produce and collect $10,000 more per month? That’s $625 per day if you work 16 days per month; an increase of $78 per hour in an 8-hour day.
Now give those numbers faces and imagine the good work you’d be doing to improve your patients’ dental and overall health… this is what having impact is all about…and this is something that people can get their heads around. Your team’s effort could be fueled by a goal of doing well by doing good. The key is to take good care of your people if you want them to take good care of your patients.
What is the impact of YOUR engagement?
Several years ago, I witnessed a team member making a point that she didn’t believe her doctor really cared about her as a person, instead she thought he saw everyone as “a replaceable pawn in his business.” Shocked, the doctor insisted, “Of course I care about you.” The team member responded, “Ok, so what’s my last name?”
Silence. Red-faced, the doctor admitted he didn’t know. This isn’t conclusive evidence, but when we realize that each person’s perception is their reality, this supported the team member’s feelings.
What can YOU do?
Get a list of all team members, their contact information and families’ and pets’ names, study it and connect on a personal level.
Hint: people love to share photos of their kids and pets.
Take a few minutes each week to have a personal conversation with a couple team members to learn what they like to do for fun. Do they enjoy sports or the arts? Share the fun by starting a team meeting by having everyone take a few minutes to share where they grew up if they had any siblings, what was their favorite pastime as a kid, what brought them to dentistry.
Once you learn someone’s story you naturally feel like you understand them better and set yourself up to improve your communication with them. Once someone has shared some of their story they feel more invested too.
Feel like having some fun at next team meeting? Try playing “Getting to Know You” Bingo” with your team! This is a fast-paced and fun activity to use to set the energy for a meeting!
This is an easy pivot for this week and I’d love to hear how this went in your practice. Please share your experience in the comments section below.
Have you ever had a moment of inspiration and it disappeared as quickly as it arrived?
I had one of these moments a year ago this month as I realized the answer to the question that dentists have been asking me for years. This aha moment was so exciting to me that it inspired me to write a book over the next six months!
Here’s the question: “Can’t I just do the dentistry?”
This question is usually accompanied by a sense of frustration over the time that dentists spend away from their clinical joy. Does this sound like you or someone you know?
I know this is the dynamic that causes new dentists and dentists that have been practicing fifty years to agree that their biggest stressor in practice is the team stress and drama.
My aha moment was in realizing that my consulting work over the past twenty years has indeed taught me (and my clients) that “Yes, you can just do the dentistry” after you make a few key leadership pivots.
This is the passion behind my book, “PIVOT: Practice Leadership Redefined How Dentists Adjust Course & Just Do the Dentistry“.
When I think of a pivot I think of basketball. My dad always used sports lessons as metaphors for life, so of course, my mind went to sports as I was trying to come up with the perfect title for my book.
While watching the Villanova Wildcats win the NCAA Championship last year I noticed that the color commentators for the tournament continually talked about Nova’s star Ryan Arcidiacono’s awesome ability to pivot. Aha! I loved the sound of the word and the visual of shifting in place to create a better opportunity.
Turns out that the lean business definition of pivot is to “change strategy without changing vision.”
That’s exactly what I am proposing to you in the book.
Today’s Pivot Point: Leadership
First Step… Shifting Your TEAM Mindset
Shifting your TEAM mindset is the first step. Start with them and you’ll experience radical results. Think about how you would want your team to treat your patients and aspire to treat your team the same way.
STOP DOING THESE 3 THINGS
1. Do not share your financial stressors with the team
If you want to inspire your team to fully engage with head, hands, and heart, you must go first. Share your purpose and passion with your team. One thing I know for sure is that when a team comes together understanding the big why in what they do, the financial success will follow.
2. Do not think that a good paycheck alone will inspire your team
Visa’s inventor, Dee Hock, said it best “Money motivates neither the best people nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality.” You definitely want your team’s hearts to be in it.
3. Do not think that clinical excellence alone will build your practice
Your patients do not judge you by the quality of your work – they simply are not qualified to judge quality. Patients judge you and decide if they will continue to be your patient by the way they feel when they are in your practice. Excellence in care and service is the winning combination.
What SHOULD You Do Instead?
If you’ve been guilty of any one or more of the previous things, I’ve created a simple Do This Not That Guide to PIVOT in a different, more productive direction!
Simple click on the image of the guide to begin shifting your team mindset today.
Did you try the guide to begin shifting your team mindset? Share your experience in the comments section.