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2.01.08 Issue #308 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
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Could Your Team Make The Super Bowl?

With a victory in Arizona this Sunday, the New England Patriots will become the first team to go 19-0 and claim a fourth NFL title in seven years. What contributed to such remarkable success? Here are some lessons that you can take from this winning team to improve the way you run your practice.

Know your purpose. The Patriots have a mission - to win football games. What’s yours? You might dismiss this question, believing it to be trite. Or you may think that it’s a colossal waste of time and energy to go beyond, “I’m a dentist”. Nothing is farther from the truth. Your mission statement is the heart of your business planning because it articulates your purpose.

By defining the core elements of your practice, you align your team. Employees gain clarity. This enables them to make accurate decisions because actions can be compared against the mission statement to assure they are furthering practice interests, or hindering them.

Do employees know the purpose of your practice? Ask each one individually. If you have communicated your vision clearly, their answers should be very consistent. If not, schedule time for your team to write a mission statement collectively.

Pick the best people. The NFL draft is the selection process for each franchise. Sizable sums of time and money are spent on assessing players. Many teams use psychologists and personality testing to make the most informed decisions. McKenzie’s Employee Assessment Test enables you to identify peak performers so you can hire wisely. Our test is the only one that has been specifically normed for the dental industry.

Be an effective communicator. Effective communication is essential for winning plays. This starts before game day. Coaches formulate plays for different scenarios. They also meet with their players frequently for alignment with those plans. Then they review films and make adjustments.

Being an effective communicator requires good listening and observing skills. This information helps you to understand your employees and what they need from you to execute well. Morning ‘huddles’ are important and so are monthly staff meetings. It also is wise to hold individual performance reviews with each team member. These should happen quarterly, or more often if employees are learning new ‘plays’.

Clarify job responsibilities.The Patriots' level of efficiency is the envy of every team in the world because each man does his job with precision, craftsmanship and attention to detail. If your staff is performing well, follow-up with feedback. Let them know they are ‘on track’. Be sure to illuminate what’s working…the good ‘plays’. Show each team member the value of their contributions to practice successes.

Just like a winning coach, let your employees know when they miss a ‘play’. Fairly and respectfully, identify the gaps between expected and actual performance. Listen openly to what they tell you. Involve them in finding solutions. Establish clear performance standards, goals or objectives. Help them to improve in areas that need attention. By teaching and training your employees, you enable them to align with your expectations. When each person understands and executes his/her role, it leads to a winning team.

Develop team synergy. The Patriots have synergy - a phenomenon that occurs when a group achieves greater results together than they could not accomplish individually. Creating team synergy starts with clarity of direction. As the dental team leader, your responsibility is to establish a common purpose.

Team chemistry comes from intense training and time together. It doesn’t mean that everyone is each other’s best friend. But if there is competition between team members it’s healthy, not destructive. The competition pushes each to do better.

In addition to staff meetings, schedule time for your team to be together outside the office. Conduct a retreat that encompasses training with fun activities that unify employees. It will keep your team fresh and motivated to perform.

Be determined and tough-minded. Mental toughness is a prerequisite to Super Bowl team success. Intercept doom-and-gloom thinking when you’ve had a hard day. Exceptional people don't shrink from set backs. They're willing to sacrifice for themselves, and for others. Challenge negative beliefs and pessimistic forecasting.

To build a winning team keep your employees focused on getting their work done, even in times of chaos and uncertainty. Your team will reflect your actions. Be resilient. Super Bowl performance is about inspiring your team to give their best effort. It’s tough work unifying individuals into a cohesive group. It takes time, coordination, and the right mix of personnel. It takes planning and preparation. Add to the equation, personalities and conflicting goals or ideals and it becomes even more problematic to find a team of people that works well together – let alone on the fly at a moment’s notice. But ask the Patriots if it’s worth it. Ask them if it’s rewarding. You know the answer.

Dr. Nancy Haller is available to coach you and your team to higher levels of performance. She can be reached at

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