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Archive for category: Team Building

3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Team

3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Team

Words matter. What you say to your team can inspire them or demoralize them… encourage them or infuriate them… empower them or repulse them.

Of course, no one’s perfect. You may occasionally miscommunicate. If you say the wrong thing, find a way to correct the situation as soon as you can.

However, there are some phrases no dentist should ever utter. Here are three of them:

1. We don’t need to double-check Thelma. I trust her with our finances.

Embezzlement can happen to any practice… even your practice. No matter how trustworthy your financial coordinator is, you never want to give one employee sole control over all the money matters in your practice. It’s always better to have several staff members handling practice finances. In addition, use an outside accounting firm to conduct unscheduled audits. A series of checks and balances––with the appropriate in-house and outside oversight––can help prevent any financial impropriety.

2. Just shut up and do your job.

It’s not easy being the boss some days. You and your staff members aren’t always going to see eye to eye, but you never want to lose your temper and utter such a comment. It’s verbal abuse, pure and simple.

If you and a staff member are having a disagreement, ask to see that person in private. Listen to her concerns objectively. If you disagree, state your points dispassionately. Focus on the higher goal, such as what’s in the best interest of patients or the entire team. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

3. Let’s go on a date.

Big mistake. You’re asking for a whole lot of trouble, especially if one or both of you are already in a relationship. Even if you’re both single, your language could be perceived as coercive or harassing, which opens the practice to legal action. No matter how friendly you are with your team, do not cross this line.

I’ve met too many dentists who destroyed their marriages, damaged their practices and wreaked havoc on their finances by engaging in a romantic relationship with a staff member. It’s not worth it. End of story.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book Essential Scripts for Patients Communication by clicking here and then hitting the Read an Excerpt button.

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Let Your Team Do What You Hired Them to Do

Let Your Team Do What You Hired Them to Do

Dentists are often perfectionists. That’s a blessing and a curse. It’s great to have high standards, but many dentists feel compelled to perform non-clinical tasks because they like things done a certain way. Unfortunately, putting too much on your plate is a sure recipe for high stress and endless frustration.

If you feel overworked and overstressed, try this… As you go through your day doing what you what you normally do, ask yourself, “Who else could be doing this task?”

It’s amazing how many non-clinical and administrative duties dentists take on. Maybe when first entering practice, dentists had to pitch in here and there because their team was small and overworked.

But there comes a point when you have to give away all those non-clinical activities that are eating up your time. That’s what your team is for, and that’s why you rely on experts, whether they are accountants, payroll companies, consultants, etc.

You went to dental school to be a dentist, not a phone operator, scheduler or cashier. Don’t get caught up doing your staff’s jobs. Your time in the office is better spent taking care of patients and running the practice as a CEO. Anything else is just a distraction.


Additional Resource

Ready to Manage like a CEO? Learn more about our management consulting program by clicking here.
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Stop Kidding Yourself

Stop Kidding Yourself

At my seminars and other speaking engagements around the country, I talk with hundreds of dentists every year.  Knowing that I’m not only a fellow dentist but also the CEO of the top live training and consulting firm in dentistry, most of these doctors have questions for me. The most frequently asked is, “Dr. Levin, where do I find great staff?”

Sometimes, I feel like saying, “Are you kidding? You don’t find them… you create them!”

Dentists have a fantasy that, if only they could learn the secret to successful hiring, they could find people who would be perfect employees on the first day. But it doesn’t work that way. Like all other businesses, practices need to find people with great potential and then develop them.

The formula is simple:

  1. Implement excellent, documented, step-by-step systems. Without the right systems, no practice can get anywhere close to its true potential, no matter how good the team is. Production will actually decline, and doctors will end up working many more years than they planned.
  2. Hire people for personality and potential. Don’t settle for one interview with promising candidates. Get to know them through several meetings… looking for a great attitude, strong work ethic, desire to learn and excel, etc. Pay new team members well. Provide comprehensive training. Give them performance targets. They’ll take personal responsibility for achieving excellent results for your practice.
  3. Learn to be an excellent leader. At Levin Group, we include leadership training with every management consulting program because it’s absolutely essential. While systems and smart hiring will carry the practice a long way toward success, leadership will take it over the goal line. Leading a team may be hard, but learning how to do it is easy.

Many dentists say they love their team, and some even think of them as family. But if you don’t want it to be a dysfunctional family, you have to follow the three steps I just outlined. Otherwise, you’re just kidding yourself.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, watch “Team Training – Another Thing to Consider” by clicking here.

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Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

Is Your Office Manager Killing Morale?

People are complex and motivated by different things. One team member might be motivated by money while another may thrive on the prestige of working in a healthcare environment. Others may be intent on keeping a job simply because they need a paycheck to pay their bills. Regardless of the reason, it is the office manager’s responsibility to discover each staff members motivation and use it to build morale.

The Levin Group Data Center indicates that 96% of dental office managers have no management background. As a dentist, I understand that we often promote people we trust or who’ve been with us for a long time. Most staff members can be trained to be efficient office managers, but management is complex… and establishing a high level of morale stands out as one of the most challenging areas. Many office managers kill office morale… and dentists don’t realize that it’s happening.

On a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the best, how would you rate your office manager?

In a recent survey, the Levin Group Data Center determined that, on average, doctors rank their office managers at 8, while most staff members rank their office managers at about 4. The important takeaway from this isn’t which rating is more accurate… it’s the fact that there’s such a huge discrepancy. It’s also worth noting that, as soon as an office manager learns to use motivational psychology to increase morale, the ranking by staff members goes up. This is clear evidence that proper training for your office manager will result in higher team morale.

Staff members want to like their office manager.

Even though the office manager has authority over staff members, they want to like her personally… and be liked in return. This means they’ll try to please her and constantly observe her for signs of where they stand. This makes it relatively easy for the office manager to boost morale… in theory.

In fact, lacking management training, an office manager may not appreciate the fact that she’s being watched closely, every minute of every day. Just being herself… saying what she really thinks, acting in a way that causes anxiety, showing favoritism… can lead to problems.

One of an office manager’s most important responsibilities is building morale, but she can inadvertently end up killing it. To keep this from limiting the success of your practice, provide the expert training she needs to keep your team happy and productive.


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, download Dr. Levin’s whitepaper “What’s Holding You Back?” Use code SUCCESS during checkout to receive your free download. Click here.

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3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

3 Things Millionaire Practice Owners Do

Over the years, Levin Group has been fortunate enough to work with a number of extremely successful dentists and specialists. That might be surprising to some, who think that consulting is only for practices struggling with poor performance and low production.

Like superstar athletes, high-achieving dentists want to continue to get better. They’re not satisfied with where they are, because they know that with the right amount of effort, learning and training they can improve their practices and achieve even more.

Here are three things all millionaire dentists do…

1. They Do Their Job––Not Other People’s

Time is valuable, and they don’t want to waste doctor time on performing administrative activities. That’s a poor use of a very limited resource. They believe they should be spending nearly all of their day providing patient care.

No doctor should be scheduling patients, handling billing issues or performing hygiene. That’s why you have a team. The best use of your time is caring for patients.

Of course, there are important non-clinical activities that the doctor must be involved in, such as meeting with referring doctors and reviewing the practice’s financial performance. But these aren’t everyday events and should take up only a small amount of a doctor’s time.

2. They Let the Systems Run the Practice

For this to happen, you must have good systems, and your team must be trained on the systems. Without these two things, your practice will be in a state of chaos.

Top dentists have figured this out. They put in high-performance systems, make sure their staff is fully trained, and then they get out of the way. They spend their days moving from operatory to operatory, treating patients and being productive.

Unfortunately, too many dentists are losing uncounted hours every year, dealing with substandard systems… searching for workarounds to bottlenecks… and stressing about what’s going to go wrong next. That’s a difficult way to make a living at dentistry.

3. They Take Time Off

I can’t tell you how many dentists I’ve met who said they haven’t had a vacation in years… which is absolutely crazy to me. Dentistry is supposed to be an enjoyable career, not a prison sentence.

How can you renew when you’re in the practice every day? How can you see the big picture if you’re always immersed in the day-to-day? Without time off, dentistry turns into drudgery. What kind of care can you give to patients if you dread going into the office?

Successful dentists understand that being the best at what they do requires time away from dentistry and the office. As a practice owner, you’re under a lot of stress, but often you don’t realize how much stress you’re experiencing, because you’re used to it. Many stressors are under the surface, applying constant pressure… but you don’t know that they’re there until you take a break from the practice.

Every dentist needs at least one vacation a year. You deserve it, and so does your family. You don’t even have to go far. Do a series of day trips. Most of us live close to parks and museums that we rarely visit. Get together with friends you haven’t seen in a while. There’s a lot you can do within a few hours’ driving distance.

Conclusion

If you want a better practice and a better life, do the three things all millionaire dentists do.

They’re not specific to someone who runs a boutique cosmetic practice in Beverly Hills or owns a lucrative small group practice with 11 offices. In fact, the sooner you start acting like a millionaire dentist, the sooner you can become one.


Additional Resource

 To grow your practice, attend one of Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminars in 2017. Click here to see his schedule.

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Mayhem in the Break Room: How to Resolve Employee Conflicts

Mayhem in the Break Room: How to Resolve Employee Conflicts

There are times when the staff room in the practice can seem like a war zone. Okay… maybe it’s not that extreme, but serious conflict does occur. People aren’t getting along, not even speaking to each other. And, all too often, such situations are ignored in the hope that they’ll just go away.

Bad move.

The key to resolving conflict is to deal with it quickly, because the longer it continues, the worse it will get… until it’s beyond repair. The doctor or office manager should play a neutral role, sitting down with each party to understand the situation and then seek a resolution. Most office conflicts are interpersonal issues that don’t pose ethical or legal questions. The message has to be that the staff must function together in the office… that it’s a requirement of the job and that personal feelings have to be resolved, in the interest of providing outstanding customer service to patients. You must make it clear that ongoing conflict cannot and will not be tolerated.

Dentists have a hard time delivering this message. Most dentists fall into the passive-aggressive category (“I’ll ignore this and say nothing until I get annoyed enough to lash out.”) The problem with this approach is that you wait too long. In most cases, addressing conflict early and sending a strong message will let the staff members involved know that they need to settle down and get back to focusing on patients. Avoiding involvement also usually has a negative impact on other team members, who begin to take sides. Most of this can be avoided by dealing with conflict head on and without delay.

Dentists and office managers aren’t usually sitting in the staff room when conflict occurs, but you inevitably hear about it or at least feel that something isn’t right. Check in, ask questions and take a proactive approach. Make it clear that customer service is the number one priority and anything that detracts from it has to be resolved.


Additional Resource

Watch Dr. Levin’s video “Interpersonal Relations – Get Along with Everyone,” by clicking here.

 

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Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Are You a Micromanager? Take Our Quiz

Many dentists are micro-managers. It’s true. Perhaps you could blame it in part on dental school. As clinicians, we are taught to make sure everything is right or the treatment could potentially fail. That “it all depends on me” attitude often carries over to running a practice and leading a team.

Another culprit is the lack of systems. Without documented systems, there’s an element of uncertainty that permeates the practice culture. As business owners, we feel it’s our duty to check, double-check, and hover over employees to make sure things are getting done the right way.

At the end of the day, the cause really doesn’t matter as much as recognizing the behavior and finding a way to change it… because, ultimately, micro-managing is costing you big time––probably tens of thousands of dollars in lost production every year. On top of that, it wastes a great deal of doctor time, discourages employee growth and undermines the staff’s confidence to act independently.

So here’s the question––are you a micro-manager? Take our quiz to find out.

  1. Do you go up to the front desk area to give instructions, check up on tasks or monitor employee activity at least once an hour? Yes or No
  2. Does the team run all minor decisions by you before acting? Yes or No
  3. Do you get frustrated when team members don’t do things “your way?” Yes or No
  4. Do you believe that you are the best one in the practice to handle any administrative task? Yes or No
  5. Do you perform non-clinical tasks that could be delegated to team members? Yes or No
  6. Do team members have authority to solve patient problems and issues (versus checking with doctor)? Yes or No
  7. Have you ever corrected a staff member for performing an administrative task differently than you would have, even though the result was the same? Yes or No

Rate Yourself

Based on your total number of “yes” answers…

1 – Recovering Micromanager

2–3 – Passive-Aggressive Micromanager

4–5 – Heavy Micromanager

6–7 – Extreme Micromanager

They say great leaders are born, not made. Fortunately, they’re WRONG! You can easily learn how to eliminate the stress you feel trying to keep track of every single detail in your practice. More importantly, proper delegation gives your team the chance to shine in their jobs. And it will have a huge positive impact on your bottom line and free you up to do more dentistry in less time. A perfect combination.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Level IV Leadership,” by clicking here.

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Three Things You Can Learn From United States Presidents

Three Things You Can Learn From United States Presidents

Regardless of their political party, all presidents follow a playbook… one that dentists can also follow to be better practice leaders.

The first thing every president does (even before getting elected) is lay out a vision… a statement of where the president wants to take the country. Dentists should do the same thing to galvanize and inspire their staff about achieving a brighter future.

Second, every president lays out goals for the American public… and dentists should do the same for their staffs. Each year, select 10 key goals, share them with your staff and review progress monthly.

Third, presidents often recognize the positive accomplishments of the people who work for them and for the American people. Dentists should likewise spend time acknowledging the hard work of team members in order to create confidence, trust and self-esteem.

Additional Resource

For more insight from Dr. Levin about what it takes to lead your practice to greater success, check out his whitepaper, “Create a Powerful Vision.

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Three Things Great Leaders Do

Three Things Great Leaders Do

I’ve written a book and many articles about what dentists can learn from Fortune 500 CEOs and other highly successful business leaders. Here are three simple techniques that I was discussing recently with practice owners in our leadership training course. If you think leading a team well is all about barking orders and demanding better results, these suggestions may surprise you.

1. Always be the example. This may be the single most important thing you can do as a practice leader. Your behavior at the office should exemplify what you want to see displayed by your team.

2. Compliment each staff member every day. I’ve seen it countless times… dental team members who are complimented actually perform better because they know they’re appreciated. (This technique also works quite well with patients.)

3. Spend your workday “catching” members of your staff doing something right.When you see someone performing just the way you want them to, don’t take it for granted. Reinforce the good behavior by letting the team member know that you noticed.. and that you appreciate a job well done.

Additional Resource

For more insight about how to lead your practice to greater success, read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s book, What Dentists Can Learn from Top CEOs. Go here and click the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Are You Listening to Your Team?

Are You Listening to Your Team?

In the course of a day at your practice, there may be many conversations among you, your staff and the patients, but another very important form of communication may be missing.

How often do you hear suggestions from your staff about how to improve operations, address problems or increase production?

Have members of your team talked to you about their personal career aspirations, or how they feel about their role at the practice?

As the team leader, you need to initiate meaningful interactions with your team, and you can’t do it when you’re chairside, caring for patients. There are, however, three ready-made channels for this kind of communication. Staff meetings, informal conversations and performance reviews.

Morning, monthly and special meetings all provide opportunities for you to “pick the brains” of team members. Ask questions and encourage dialogue and an exchange of ideas. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.

“Hallway” conversations can play a surprisingly important role in encouraging staff members to share their thoughts with you. By asking specific questions about how the work is going, you’ll be sending the message that you care about what team members think. You may pick up valuable observations and insights this way while making it easier for staff to speak up during meetings.

Annual performance reviews are as valuable for one-to-one exchanges as meetings are for group interactions. Ask for the team members’ views about how things have been going, what they can do to improve their own performance, and how the practice can help them advance their careers.

Want to be a better leader? Learn to listen to your team.


Additional Resource

For more team-building advice, check out Dr. Levin’s whitepaper, “The 9 Areas of Expertise: Team Building.” It’s available here.

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