5.13.11 Issue #479 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Are You Making The Right Connection?
Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Often it has been said that the most successful dental practices have a dentist leader that knows how to make a positive connection with the staff as well as with patients. Building rapport with a patient is important because you want the patient to be a member of the practice family for many years. You want to motivate patients to be compliant and choose dental treatment that will improve their health.  Often dentists are good at that, but poor when it comes to building an excellent relationship with their team.  The key to understanding this is to know what the intention is in the relationship. From the clinical standpoint, doing dentistry for the patient in a caring and quality fashion is the intention for building the professional relationship. When it comes to relating to the staff, the intention becomes unclear. Take for example:

Dear Belle,

I don’t feel important where I work. I am always on time and do my job the way the doctor has told me he wants it done, and I get a paycheck. When I ask the doctor about a certain procedure or why something is done a certain way, the doctor says he will explain later, but later never comes. I have never had a performance review or been told “Great job.” The Office Manager says that I should not worry as a performance review would mean that I am not doing a good job and need to be disciplined. Am I wrong to want more connection where I work? 

-Bea Good, DA

Dear Bea,

Wanting feedback about your work is a normal and healthy request. For many dentists, performance reviews put them on an emotional roller coaster because the meeting is seen as confrontational or that it means a raise in salary is expected. A performance review should not be confused with a salary review, as they are different. A performance review would precede a salary review, as it is done to provide feedback on what the employee is doing great and what the employee should improve upon. Salary increases are based upon the performance of the practice and the individual performance of the team member.  Since you did not mention an increase in salary, I believe that you want a show of appreciation and a higher level of communication from your employer. Request in writing a performance review and have prepared ahead of time a list of what you have done to improve your skills since you were hired, anything that you have contributed to the benefit of the practice, and what you would like to do in the future to be the best you can be at your position. Presenting yourself this way should elicit a positive and appreciative response from your employer.


As a dentist CEO, it is important to know your patients as individuals as well as know your team members as individuals - not personifications of job skills. When hiring individuals it is wise to ask yourself, “Is this someone I would enjoy spending 8 to 9 hours a day with?” If a position is filled with the thought of having very little contact with that person, then the intention needs to be communicated.  The assumption is that when someone has little to offer we avoid spending time with them; we make less eye contact, frown and close our body language. We may also interrupt their conversations more and be critical of what they say. The message is clearly communicated that, “You are not important.”

On the other hand, when we assume someone has valuable things to teach us we tend to want to spend more time with them and listen to what they have to say. We also inquire of their thoughts and praise more of their actions. Our body language is open, we smile more and nod our heads. When you are presenting treatment options to a patient, surely you would want the later response of listening, smiling and nodding in agreement!

Time and again, research has demonstrated that our assumptions shape the outcomes. If your employee does not feel important, valued or appreciated, after a while this will manifest in poor attendance and unsatisfactory performance - which will have a negative effect on the practice.

Want to become a better dental CEO and manage your practice to success? Call McKenzie Management today.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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