How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

Gossip is something many dental practices deal with. Many of us experience it in our practice. It is important for all team members to be able to voice concerns and resolve problems. Everyone needs to be able to talk about and improve work conditions. They need to be able to get feedback on how to handle situations and brainstorm solutions.

But when people resort to gossip, it causes pain, fractures trust, and creates a toxic culture. To eliminate gossip, we must understand where it comes from and create a safe environment to resolve issues before they lead to gossip. Here are six characteristics of a healthy, gossip-free practice culture.

1. Clear Expectations and Accountability

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Dentists and other practice leaders must be very clear that there should not be any gossip happening in the office. Educate the team on the best ways to get help with team members or leadership. Talk with them about ways they can communicate with each other to discuss and help find solutions to issues in a productive way.

Ask your team members to also lead the way and set those clear expectations with each other and when new people join the practice. Clear expectations and accountability will help ensure a no-gossip environment continues over the long term.

2. Vulnerability-Based Trust

Vulnerability-based trust occurs when people are comfortable sharing problems they are experiencing without fear of retaliation or losing respect. It also occurs when people feel safe discussing issues with the person causing the issue—especially as the dentist or team leader. With vulnerability-based trust, people know others will support them in finding solutions and not judge them for not being able to solve a problem on their own.

There must be vulnerability-based trust among your entire team. If issues cannot be resolved because there is no trust, that is an environment that is ripe for gossip.

3. Agreement and Commitment from the Entire Team

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Make sure there's agreement and a commitment from everyone in on the team to having no gossip in the office. This is not something one leader or dentist can do on their own.

Most of the time, gossip happens outside of the dentist or team leader's presence. If the issue is about them, the gossip will occur outside of their presence. If the issue is about someone else, their conversations are generally solution-focused. That is why it is important for leaders to set expectations but get wider agreement and commitment. The team's commitment and agreement will define your long-term success when it comes to building a no-gossip environment.

4. Commitment to Discuss Issues With any Person Directly With That Person

When the team is comfortable discussing problems or challenges with the person causing it in a productive way, everyone wins. If someone needs help, that is fine. Even having somebody sit with you while you discuss something that is difficult can help keep the situation productive.

Encourage your entire team to address things head on directly with the person causing the issue. If they want help, encourage them to approach leadership with their concerns so they can get advice and direction.

5. Solutions-Based Communication

 

How to Build a Gossip-Free Environment in Your Practice

 

Keep lines of communication open by promoting and practicing solutions-based communication.  Leaders must keep communication lines open and allow people to talk about difficult things in a productive way—especially if they need to give the leaders feedback. This avoids putting up a barrier that leaves team members confused about how to get issues solved. Because they will not know what to do they will start talking with each other and make it much more likely that the conversation will lead to gossip.

Ask team members to bring suggested solutions to conversations if they need to talk about something difficult. The solution you bring might not be the one that is adopted but it ensures the tone of the conversation is solution-focused. Let them know that it is ok if they do not have a suggestion. In those cases, ask them to be able to discuss things they considered. That will also help focus the conversation on finding solutions.

6. Real-Time Feedback

Create an environment of consistent real-time feedback—positive feedback and constructive criticism. When we constantly solicit feedback, we will create an environment that catches issues early.  When somebody needs to give you constructive criticism, it can be difficult to not get emotional or upset. You can ask clarifying questions but make it a safe discussion or people will eventually resort to gossip.

We can create an environment of consistent real-time feedback by asking for feedback at the end of each shift. Ask team members what went well and where could we have done better. As time goes on, these conversations help avoid things from getting to the point where team members feel the need to gossip.

Are you building a gossip-free environment?

An environment with these six characteristics gives all team members a safe place to have their voices heard and resolve issues without needing to resort to gossip.

TAKE ACTION TODAY:

If you’re anything like the 300 practices that have gone through our Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, you may be feeling like your team could use a bit more energy and excitement about growing the practice. That way they could spend less time on gossip and more time serving patients and doing the dentistry we all love. If that sounds familiar, then this is your invitation to join our 21-day Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge, and get a 20% discount at checkout when you use the code CHALLENGE here.

How to Give Your Dental Practice a Core Value Checkup

When is the last time you reviewed your core values? Core values define who you are, who you want to be, and what your company strives for.

Why Core Values Matter

 

How to Give Your Dental Practice a Core Value Checkup

 

Core values make running a dental practice much easier. They guide you in how you hire, fire, reward, and recognize team members. They also make tough decisions easier because they give you important context within which to make decisions. Additionally, when team members know about your core values, it guides them in many things, including these:

  • what they should be doing
  • how they should be conducting themselves
  • how to interact with other team members
  • how to interact with patients

If you have not written core values, take a few minutes to work through this exercise. If you already have core values written, take a few minutes to re-evaluate or update them to make sure you have the strongest set of core values guiding you and your team.

Brainstorming Possible Core Values

Start on a personal level. Think about yourself as a person. What are the ten or so principles you personally live by? It doesn’t matter what they are, just list things that are most important to you. For example:

  • How do you want people to perceive you?
  • How do you want people to think that you act?
  • How do you actually act?
  • What do you want people to say about you when you are not around?

Write down everything that comes to mind when thinking of those questions. If it helps, imagine you live in a perfect world in which you can design exactly who you are and how you act. Write down the characteristics you would choose.

Analyzing Your List of Core Values

 

How to Give Your Dental Practice a Core Value Checkup

 

Take your list of personal core values and think about them in the context of yourself, your team, and your practice. What core values do you want everyone to think about you, your team, and your practice? What values are non-negotiable in your practice? Edit your list with that in mind. Then ask yourself each of the following “yes or no” questions for each value listed. Write down your answers for each value.

  • Is the value absolutely necessary to our unique culture?
  • Would we want our organization to stand for this core value 100 years from now no matter what changes occur in the world?
  • Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if at some point in time it became a competitive disadvantage?
  • Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if in some instances the environment penalized us for living this core value?
  • Do we believe those who do not hold this core value or those who breach it consistency simply do not belong in our organization?
  • Would we personally continue to hold this core value even if we were not rewarded for holding it?
  • Would we change jobs before giving up this core value?
  • If we awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire for the rest of our life, would we still hold true to this core value?
  • If we were to start a brand-new organization, would we build around this core value regardless of the industry?
  • Does this value represent the primary behaviors our organization wants to encourage and stand by?
  • Is this value one that we will continue under stress, duress, and in the face of all obstacles?

Finalizing Your List of Core Values

Narrow down your core values to the seven to ten most important values. Use your answers to the questions in the last section to guide you. For example, the more you answered yes for a value, the more important it is. Keep only the seven to ten values that are most important on your list. Those will be your revised core values that will lead yourself, your team, and your practice forward.

Communicating Your Core Values With Your Team

 

How to Give Your Dental Practice a Core Value Checkup

 

Make sure everyone on your team knows your core values. Post them in your office where people can see. Discuss them openly and regularly. Let everyone know why they are so important. Be sure to let them know everyone in the office is expected to act consistently with the core values. Let them know you will be evaluating decisions they make in accordance with the core values, even if the decision goes wrong. For example, let them know whether they acted in accordance with your core values will be something you consider when mistakes happen. When you position this in a positive light and follow through on that promise, you will encourage your team members, and everyone will benefit.

Give your dental practice a core values checkup today.

If you have not set or updated your core values in a while, take a few minutes to update them today. You will come away with a list of seven to ten principles that guide everything you do in your practice.

If you want help setting core values in your practice, check out the team of expert coaches and training resources we offer in our Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.

You can also join my free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook group, where thousands of dentists and I help each other build better practices.

How to Run a Productive Team Meeting

How to Run a Productive Team Meeting

Holding productive team meetings is one of the best ways to make sure your most important practice tasks get done. For some larger practices, that means meeting regularly with your leadership team. Smaller practices might include every team member. Either way, the key to success is to run your meetings well.

We suggest holding meetings on a regular schedule, preferably weekly but no less frequently than every other week. Weekly works best because it puts you in better control of your practice results. They ensure you do not wait two weeks to learn about and address issues. Also, if you are traveling and your team needs to run a meeting without you, you will not go a month without attending a meeting.

Regular weekly meetings create a productive rhythm for your practice. Here is our seven-step plan for getting the most out of team meetings.

1. Opening Exercise (5 minutes)

 

How to Run a Productive Team Meeting

 

Appoint a team leader to run your meetings. Make sure they start and end every meeting on time. Starting on time sets a standard of timeliness that extends beyond the meeting. Ending on time makes everyone focus during the meeting and avoids having them drag on.

 

Make sure someone takes notes at each meeting. Important items will be discussed and having to remember it all is impossible, especially with so much on our plates. Keep those notes in one place, such as a single notebook or shared Google Doc.

As the meeting opens, the meeting leader should ask for a volunteer to share one personal achievement and one professional achievement from the last week.

Personal achievements could include that someone ran a 5k and are really proud. A professional achievement could be that someone asked ten patients for reviews that earned six five-star reviews for the practice.

This is not a time for discussion, just announcements, but it is an important part of team building. Move around the room until everyone has shared a personal and professional achievement.

2. Scorecard Review (5 minutes)

Take five minutes to review and fill out your practice scorecard. Ask each team member to let you know if their scorecard items are on or off track.

If it is on track, great. Anything off track should be moved to the IDS portion of the meeting, where you will identify, discuss, and solve practice issues.

3. Rock Review (5 minutes)

In addition to practice goals, each team member should have their own rocks—or goals—to pursue. Take five minutes to review practice and individual rocks and find out what is on track and off track.

For example, one of the doctor’s rocks might be to create a dental savings plan. One of your team leaders’ rocks might be to get cancellations and no shows below 10%. Another could be to create a coffee table culture book for the practice.

Asking each team member about their rocks during your meeting helps build a culture of accountability and support among team members. If something is off track, put it on the agenda for the IDS part of the meeting, during which you all identify, discuss, and solve issues.

4. Customer and Employee Headlines (5 Minutes)

 

How to Run a Productive Team Meeting

 

After each team member updates you on their rocks, take five minutes to discuss updates about patients or employees. These can be positive or negative, such as good Facebook or Google reviews or disgruntled patients. This is also a good time for team members to give kudos to colleagues who have gone above and beyond.

If something negative can be resolved quickly, do so. If it needs more discussion, add it to the IDS portion of the meeting.

5. Previous To-Do List Review (5 Minutes)

Take five minutes to discuss the status of to-do items from last meeting’s IDS session. Ask each team member whether they have completed their to-do items.

If so, check it off as complete. If they are on target, keep it in the to-do list for next week. If they are off target, move it to the IDS discussion for this week.

6. IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) (30–60 minutes)

This will take the majority of the meeting time. Ask each team member to take thirty to sixty seconds to write down the three most important issues they are facing.

When they are finished, have one team member identify their issues. Once the issue is identified, take a few minutes to discuss possible solutions. After a couple of minutes, choose a solution with which to move forward. Then put the tasks on a to-do list for your next meeting, and assign the tasks to the appropriate team member.

Go around the room until you identify, discuss, and solve each team member’s top three issues.

At some point during your IDS session, you the meeting will start to wind down. Give a ten-minute warning to ensure the meeting will end on time. Do the same with five minutes left, at which point the meeting will begin to conclude.

7. Review and Conclusion

 

How to Run a Productive Team Meeting

 

Once you have completed your IDS session, recap your to-do checklist so everyone knows what they need to do. Read them out loud and make eye contact with the team member responsible for doing the task. Designate someone to deliver messages to people who could not make the meeting.

Finally, ask each team member to rate your meeting on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. If someone rates it less than an eight, ask them to tell the group why so you can improve.

Are you ready to boost productivity in your practice?

If you want to make your practice more productive, high-impact productivity meetings might be the answer. Follow these seven steps, and you will be well on your way to a more productive office.

To learn more about boosting productivity in your practice, check out the team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.

And if you want to go beyond productive team meetings to a practice that’s as effective, repeatable systems designed to help you grow your production month over month, then our upcoming Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge is for you.

Here’s How to Create Your BEST Year Ever!

Many people have big dreams which never become a reality.  They live on Someday Island. They say “Someday I'll write that book. Someday I'll work less. Someday I'll spend more time with my family and take that well-needed vacation”.  Well, this is the year to reach your goals, grow your business, and start to enjoy your life!

The key to achieving massive results is to first plan and then to write down the steps needed to achieve your goals.  I have had some phenomenal results over the last few years as a result of implementing yearly planning.  Yearly planning has literally changed the way that my team and I think, and has significantly impacted the success of my practice.

As a result of yearly planning, in 2015 we quadrupled new patient numbers, doubled revenue, and were able to deliver more “Wow” services to our patients.

Here are the exact steps that I used to create my Yearly, Quarterly, and Weekly action plan.

Looking Back:

  • Look back on your current year.  What goals did you achieve?  What difference did it make to your business?
  • What didn't you achieve that you intended to?

Going Forward:

  • Create an overall theme for the upcoming year.  For 2015, my theme was growth.
  • Choose 3 main goals for the year: I chose to focus on Systems, Brand Development, and Profit goals.
  • Conduct a brainstorming session with your team to create a list of systems which need to be implemented.
  • List creative ways that you can build your brand and be more profitable.
  • Once you have your master list, decide which 15 goals you will work on for the first quarter.
  • Break these goals down into months and weeks.  Once they are broken down into weeks, assign the team member who will be responsible for implementing each task.

Here is an example of a weekly planning sheet.  Make sure to download your Free template. Here is an example of a weekly planning sheet.  Make sure to download your Free template.

What has been most amazing is that because we do planning and break tasks down into weeks we know 3 months ahead of time what we are doing each week to grow the business. The most interesting thing is that it is not me as the business owner doing these things.  These weekly tasks are being done by my team and who are held accountable by the office manager.  I simply oversee designing the plan, and watch the magic happen.

Your leadership as the business owner to inspire your team as well as to give them the tools to succeed are the keys to having a more productive and accountable team.  Remember the business cycle.  The business owner inspires the team who wow's the customers who support and grow the business which supports the owner and the team.

Make sure to listen to my interview with Action Coach Chairman Brad Sugars on why Yearly Planning yields Massive Results!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Focus on the Competition, Focus on What Makes you Unique

While trying to grow a successful company, there are many things that you can focus on.  However, to get the greatest amount of success, you should focus on what matters most.  It doesn't matter if you own a restaurant, or are providing a service, like a dentist or accountant, you must focus on what makes you different.  

Let's face it, we have lots of choices of where to spend our money these days, and so do consumers.  The businesses that thrive all have one thing in common- something that makes them stand apart.  Amazon offers convenience which allows them to stand apart from other online retailers.  Zappos is known for their culture and amazing service.  Dominoes is known for delivering dinner to a hungry family in 30 minutes or less.  What makes your business unique?

The secret is to find out what matters most to your customers, and give it to them.  In my dental business I realized that people want to be seen on time.  So we put in systems and a guarantee to make that happen.  We also knew that most people are fearful when going to the dentist, so in addition to amenities such as gourmet tea and freshly baked plantain tarts, we offer headphones to take away the sound and complimentary arm and hand massages. We focused on being different.

Once you focus on being different, customers will notice and will be drawn to you because you are solving not only their needs but their wants.  The basic service that I provide is a dental service.  However, all dentists do cleanings and fillings.  It is the extra touches that have allowed my business to consistently receive 10 times the industry standard of new patients with a very tiny marketing budget.  Our marketing is our uniqueness and our culture.  
 

What is Your Company’s Culture?

Why have Core Values?  Every practice has an office culture, whether you have designed it, or it has evolved.  Do you focus on being compassionate?  Perhaps you value seeing every patient on time.  Other offices focus on community service.

These are the Core Values of Jamaica Cosmetic Dental Services

1.) Always Show Compassion
2.) Deliver a Wow Experience Every Time
3.) Ask the Right Questions
4.) Listen With Two Ears and One Heart
5.) Pursue Growth and Learning
6.) Think Big and Have Fun
7.) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8.) Insist on the Highest Standards
9.) Build a Stronger Community
10.) Be Humble

What these mean to our company are that we must always be patient and meet our patients where they are.  We must not judge them.  We must ensure consistency, and ensure that our patient's experience with us is unlike any dental office that they have ever been to before.  We must ask lots of questions to get a full understanding of what exactly the patient wants so that we can better serve them.  We must listen and treat our patients as if they were in our own family.

Education is very important.  All of our team members have kindles for our book club and we have weekly lunch and learns.  Our office must be a fun environment where we look forward to coming together to exceed our patient's expectations.  We must offer consistency and quality in our dental work.  It must be beautiful, strong, and long lasting.  We absolutely must build stronger communities.  We currently give away proceeds from our new patient exams to a different charity every month, as well as have hosted free kids dental days.  Finally, and most importantly, we must be humble.

I challenge you to take the time with your team and come up with what's important to your practice, and most importantly, put it into ACTION!