Even the best and the brightest teams will fall short of their goals if they are not all on the same page. I’ve seen talented teams that are actually more of a group of people working alongside each other, but with competing priorities, plateau, unable to advance to the next level of success. The best way out of this rut, so you create new growth starts with coming together to shift the energy in the practice, to shift the practice culture. If you want to create a new culture, you have to change the energy feeding the old culture.
I hear from team members all the time that they are “working so hard.” One of my favorite shifts that occur in team development is when the team begins to realize that working hard is not an essential ingredient to success… achieving results is the essential part.
When there are openings in hygiene and someone is focused on how hard he or she is working and how many calls they are making, they are churning negative energy. When you’re on the phone, 92% of your success in communicating will be based on your voice quality and tone – that’s another way of saying it’s based on the energy in your voice. Remember the old adage, it’s not what you say, but how you say it? We’ve all experienced this, right? There’s a big difference between a monotone “Thanks for calling. How can I help you?” and an engaged “Thanks for calling. How can I help you?!” or better yet “Thanks for calling, I can help you!”
If you’re focused on how hard you’re working or how many phone calls you’re making, your voice quality and tone will reflect your struggle. If you’re focusing on the wonderful service you’re providing your patients by helping them stay on track and health, your energy level will shift & so will your results. Energy is either an asset or a liability – it’s a choice we make with every action.
You may think you can kid yourself about your focus, but your energy will not be fooled… neither will your coworkers or your patients.
Group Exercise for Your Practice
Here’s a quick exercise to get everyone focused on identifying your core values that give life (energy) to your practice.
First, everyone take a quick 10 seconds here and think about your role in the practice, what you do at work. Put your ideas up on a whiteboard or easel pad if it’s handy.
I’ve asked thousands of team members to do this and I find the focus is much too narrow and the responses are all position drive: I’m the doctor, I’m a hygienist, I’m an assistant. My favorites are the ones that identify as a piece of furniture when they say, “I’m the front desk.” Wow, we really need to elevate some team members’ images of themselves! I’m guessing most of your answers are probably much the same as I’ve seen, very task oriented.
At your next team meeting, I challenge you to go one step further and write down what you do without using any words that could be found in your job description. Work with a partner so you can rate each other’s answers and nix the ones that might be a task on a job description.
Bring everyone together to understand why you do what you do… and we all know it’s so much more than fixing teeth … it’s about who you are being when you do what you do… it’s about changing lives, restoring confidence and lifting people up.
Create a new list of all the roles you identify in this exercise. I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of teams and every time it has the same effect – it raises the stakes and makes each person’s contribution more meaningful than ever because the focus is on the WHAT & WHY instead of HOW they do their job.
Once you’ve got everyone on the same page with the WHAT & WHYthe power and the passion… the HOW becomes much easier to agree on and the proof is in the results!
Use the video below for your next huddle or team meeting to help facilitate the energy discussion in your practice.
I enjoy the opportunity to speak to many team members around the country and to learn about their goals and dreams as well as their frustrations. It’s in those interactions that breakthroughs often occur. One person recently told me, “I worked for that doctor for over 15 years and he never once did anything for me.” Wow, where do I begin? I decided to listen and learn this person’s perspective.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak up – courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill is the genius behind this quote that teaches the value of quiet strength and wisdom.
I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; in this case, I was practicing the Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood habit. Once I gain a better understanding, I’ll be able to ask the questions that will give the other person the courage to stop making their case for unhappiness and instead face the future with renewed enthusiasm.
When this woman was finished with her story, I asked:
Question #1: “Now that you’re with a new practice, why is this coming up?”
Her answer, “My new doctor is doing reviews, which the former one never did. We’re talking about me, which is good, but my new doctor doesn’t appreciate all I know, all I do and how good I am. He just wants me to do more.”
I then asked question #2: “Are you happy in your work?”
She responded, “Lately, I’m feeling frustrated and bored at work. I rather be appreciated for what I do now than have to attend meetings to learn more.”
And finally, question #3: “Do you think your best work days are behind you or ahead of you?”
Her energy changed as she was very quick to respond, “I’ll probably work for another 15 years, so I sure hope they’re ahead of me!”
Whoop, there it is! That’s the enthusiasm I was hoping was still there, although masked by her own ego and disconnect with the new doctor’s vision.
Enthusiasm is what fuels our passions to create, to enjoy our work and to take our personal and team performance to the elusive next level. Enthusiasm isn’t about what we have – we can be appreciative of what we have or have accomplished. Enthusiasm exists for what’s to come, where we’re going, what we’ll achieve next. Enthusiasm is about the future. I’ve met this woman many times through the years; her name and face have changed, but her story remains the same.
How about you? Have you met this person, unhappy in the present, not sure how to move forward? The choice is to step up or to step out of the practice.
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 wantto 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.
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.”
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 ☺