I like to step outside of dentistry into the corporate world for my mastermind meetings and continuing education. During my recent travels, I met up with a Fortune 500 business consultant and we had a brilliant conversation about the concept that success isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. We both agreed that situational success can sometimes get in the way of long-term, predictable success. Let me explain…
THE GROUNDHOG DAY SUCCESS STRATEGY
We talked about the challenges of developing cross-functional teams, those who perform different functional roles within an organization but must all come together to achieve a common goal. The corporate version of this brings marketing, human resources, and accounting together, for example, while dental teams bring the administrative, clinical assisting and hygienists together to achieve successful outcomes for patients and the practice. Independent expertise is just as critical as the skill of successfully passing the baton to the next department.
While the goal is to ultimately establish a seamless flow from one department to the next, the process can be downright messy at times. I spent a dozen years in the dental practice prior to starting my company, so I know, just as you do, that some days it seems like Murphy’s Law is having a field day at our expense. Then, out of nowhere the puzzle pieces start to fall into place and before you know it, the case works out, the openings in the schedule fill up and the team comes together to rock a successful day. Bravo Team! Everyone goes home happy and we come back the next day to start all over again, business as usual.
STOP RIGHT THERE
This is precisely where your success can get in your way. You and your team struck gold yesterday and it’s critical that you take the time to create the treasure map that will lead you to strike gold again. Rather than feeling like you got lucky, take the time to figure out exactly how you set yourself up for success, exactly how the seeds you planted sprouted, how the proactive tracking process you put in place paid off and/or how the relationships you nurture all contributed to your team’s ability to re-create a successful day on the fly. The insights you discover will enable you to re-create this awesome turnaround success the next time. Success leaves clues … mine the nuggets, capture the gold and reap the rewards of turning Murphy’s Law on its head. Your situational success will morph into creating a more predictable process.
Download this great tool for the Groundhog Day Strategy
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Up early, ready for the new day.
Eye of the Tiger energy leading you into the office.
It’s going to be an awesome day!
The team is all on time, prepared for your huddle, the day is well-scheduled, productive and you’re excited about the good people you’ll see today and the great work you’re privileged to do. Zip a dee doo dah! I love dentistry!
How do we bottle this positive energy, mindset and can-do attitude so it’s there for us as we start each new day?
How do we make this predictable?
What do we do when ‘life happens’ and we have challenges that threaten to derail us?
How can we maintain this positive attitude when the schedule is falling apart or the unexpected happens that extends an appointment causing you to run late?
Let’s dig deeper for some answers.
A Fable and a Frog
Fables are short stories intended to teach us some moral lessons. Most of us are introduced to these stories as children, notably The Tortoise and the Hare, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Ugly Duckling.
There’s another popular fable about a frog that instantly leaps out when placed in a pot of boiling water, immediately aware of the danger. That same frog can be placed in a pot of cool water that is slowly heated to the boiling point and the frog will not sense the gradual change in temperature until it’s too late and the frog meets its demise.
Perspective based on stories we tell ourselves…
I’ve asked hundreds of dental teams what they think the lessons in the Boiled Frog fable are for dentists and their teams. The two most common answers are interestingly at odds with each other.
#1 Change has to be gradual in order for it to be accepted (placing frog in cold water)
#2 Change won’t happen without a proper sense of urgency (placing frog in hot water)
Which is the real lesson, the best one? That’s a matter of perspective, based on the stories we tell ourselves.
Whatever you believe will become your reality, as you prove yourself right. For example, you may believe that change won’t happen without a proper sense of urgency and yet how many times have you gone shopping and bought something you didn’t need? There was no urgency for the VitaMix Blender, but it is awesome and you wanted it. You’ll wake up to smoothies and make hot soup because now you can, all the while still believing that there has to be a proper sense of urgency for change to occur. I’m always fascinated that as humans we can hold two seemingly opposite beliefs at one time.
It’s important to realize that our subconscious brain believes what we tell it. This is the root of the limiting beliefs we have that hold us back. I believe our greatest opportunities lie in challenging those limiting beliefs, those stories we tell ourselves at a conscious level with an open mind.
There is a third option…
Back to the boiled frog fable. Here’s a third option that has a pivot point for breaking through many limiting beliefs. It’s most common to see ourselves and our patients as the frog and craft our stories based on which of the two most common choices listed above.
What happens when we approach the question of the best lesson in the story with a totally different perspective: are we the boiled or the boiler? Each of us, as a practice leader, provides the framework for our reality (the pan). We create the culture (the water) and we provide the heat source (the flame).
Eureka! This can change everything.
How does your perspective change when you realize you have the power to determine your outcome? What happens when you start telling yourselves a new story with possibilities you had not previously believed to be possible? Take a look around, if someone else is doing it, there’s a better than average chance you can do it, too. If it’s not being done, who’s to say you can’t be the one to break the barrier and create the freedom to practice the way you want to?
There are 10 top limiting beliefs I see in dental practices
1. Patients only want what insurance covers
2. Ideal day scheduling is a pipe dream
3. There’s just not enough time
Click here to download the full list of The Top 10 Limiting Beliefs in a Dental Practice.
My challenge for you this week is to come together as a team and identify your limiting beliefs and then bust them wide open to create your new reality and that Eye of the Tiger energy that will propel your team to even greater impact and success.
Last week we left on the question, “Do you think your best work days are behind you or ahead of you?” Let’s follow that up with this question from my YBY [Your Best You] Appraisal System. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being you’re not effective at all & 5 being you totally rock, exceeding expectations on all levels, how would you score yourself at work?
I like this method of scoring because it encourages continual growth and challenge, as opposed to the traditional 1-5 where 1 is an F for failing grade and 5 is an A for excellent work. The traditional approach measures each person’s performance while the YBY method scores each person against potential. Your potential gap will always be bigger than your performance gap. YBY scoring sets people up to see #5 as a moving target. The traditional scoring puts people on a fixed path that can lead to mediocrity and boredom. Studies repeatedly show that employees want to know they are making forward progress. It then stands to reason that we must provide challenges that create this opportunity if we are to support the development of our team members as they become the best versions of themselves.
Dentistry is changing at the speed of light offering many new treatment options for patients. For your practice to continue to perform at a pace that gives you the freedom to practice the way you choose, it’s critical that your team is with you, committed to a path of excellence and continual improvement.
My first goal is to help the team see their role and level of contribution must go beyond job performance of their essential duties. The leaders’ role is to establish an environment that supports continued growth as well as a mentoring system to support team members through a four-part system for continual growth and development including:
This assessment protocol is a game changer. When you move the needle so that consistent above average performance earns you a 3 out of 5, you can expect an immediate reaction from your employees. Set your team members up for success by preparing them for this new strategy that raises the bar on the old status quo. Challenge your team to step up and embrace the concept that “good enough, just isn’t” in your practice. To take a team from Good to Great, you must have team buy-in. That comes when your team is prepared to see challenge as opportunity.
Here’s a good place to start
Make a list of your current team members and write down the number from 1-5 that you think represents their performance level. Your criteria are as follows: 1 =Marginal Performance 2 = Usual, Average Performance 3 = Above Average Performance 4 = One Step Ahead Performance 5 = On the cutting edge, consistently challenging self Not sure how to choose a score? Look at each name: Does this person continually take action and strive to do better? [score 4] Are they generally coasting based on their good past performance? [score 3] Are they stuck at status quo, going through the motions? [score 2]
What can you do to create the right environment to inspire your team members to see themselves on a journey to excellence? How can you guide them to set their ego aside and own a score of 3, while enthusiastically committed to improving that sore to a solid 4?
This approach isn’t for everyone – you may be perfectly content with team members who score 2 or 3 in the grid above. If that’s the case, carry on, you’re in a good place right now. On the other hand, if you just know in your gut that you want more and you’re capable of more, listen to that voice and don’t settle for less. Be the boss that your team will remember as the one who challenged me to be the very best version of myself.
Take the YBY Challenge by downloading your copy here. I believe you’ll find it’s a game changer.
Gratitude shows up in many ways. About ten years ago I was invited to speak to a group of referring dentists celebrating the retirement of an orthodontist who had practiced for over 50 years.
I asked this doctor, “How many families would you guess you have you supported during your career?” He answered that he wasn’t sure how many patient families he had treated.
“Not patients” I responded, “I am wondering how many team members you have helped support their families.”
I was surprised when his eyes got teary and he told me he had never even considered that question. He then thanked me for the gift of the question that made his heart so happy. This was a moment I’ll never forget.
It’s often said, that in business your people are your best competitive advantage. Some even describe employees as your human capital. While true, I think the value your team brings to you, your patients and your practice far exceeds those descriptions. Dentistry is a team sport, you can’t do it all by yourself. Your team members are essential to your success and they should be the beautiful representation of the face, the voice and the essence of your practice. Don’t settle for any less.
...his eyes got teary and he told me he had never even considered that question. He then thanked me for the gift of the question that made his heart so happy.
In my experience, if you wish to provide world-class care and service to your patients, you must first:
- Provide world-class care to your employees; they are basically your first clients
- Treat them well – Care about them and their families
- Establish clear boundaries and guidelines via a policy & procedures manual, and protocols
- Support team member growth and development within their roles in the practice
By recognizing and rewarding the behaviors and deliverables that you want to be repeated, you will be proactively nurturing the seeds of success while creating a culture of gratitude.
Your team may change through the years; your systems, protocols, and boundaries should grow with the practice and support a win-win environment. It’s near impossible to be in a state of appreciation and annoyance at the same time. Lead with appreciation and gratitude.
Doctors often tell me they are grateful for the team, but they don’t know what to thank people for since they spend their days focused on patient care. I have a favorite activity to share with you that increases awareness and the opportunity to lead with gratitude.
Download a copy of The Gratitude Initiative. Give it a try and let me know what you think. #PIVOTstrategy
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.”