Sally McKenzies e-Management newsletter
Consulting Products Past Issues Library Seminars Training
12.31.08 Issue #356 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
The Art Of Delegation
Hygiene Consultant
Dentist Coach

Doctor, Live And Let Go Of The Minutia
by Sally McKenzie CEO
Printer Friendly Version

How do you spend your days in the office? I know it sounds like an obvious question, but I suspect that many of you dentists would be surprised if you took a close look at what actually consumes a fair amount of your time. Certainly, you’re diagnosing and treating patients, but just how many of your working hours are spent on other less important tasks.

Hiring Wrong People?

Carry a notepad with you for three to five days and write down everything you do relating to your practice, including reviewing patient records, restocking paper products in the bathrooms, talking to patients, directing staff, calling in prescriptions, completing forms, evaluating prices on supplies, straightening the magazines in the reception area, cleaning out the refrigerator, etc. 

After you’ve gathered your data, take a good look at the list. Is it full of items that only the doctor can do? Or do you have a multitude of duties that the staff, whether it’s the assistant, hygienist, associate doctor, scheduling coordinator, business manager, etc. could and should be doing? Lastly, are there items on that list that no one should be doing because they should be outsourced or are on it because of a lack of technology or broken systems?

You know all too well that there are only so many hours in a day. You want to ensure that yours are spent wisely, not squandered away on activities with little or no return to your practice. And that requires that you invest some of that time learning the art of delegation.

From the list that you created, choose the top items that directly affect the growth of your practice, specifically diagnosing and treating patients. Most everything else on that list, such as giving post-op instructions, developing the agenda for the next staff meeting, mediating the latest staff tiff, changing the light bulbs, etc., is to be delegated. Now before you panic at the thought of relinquishing those duties that you feel only you can do, develop a plan to ensure that this transition of tasks goes smoothly and methodically.

Start by sharing your vision with your staff. Are you the only one who knows where you want to take your practice? Being part of a team means understanding the ultimate goals and being vested in achieving those goals.

Next assess the strengths of those you’ve surrounded yourself with. No they are not you. No they didn’t go to dental school. But if you’ve done your job and hired effectively, chances are that your employees will not only welcome the opportunity to grow as professionals they will excel.

Consider the fact that professional training for some may be necessary to ensure that they have the opportunity to successfully meet your expectations. Your objective in delegating is to provide the resources to ensure that those charged with these new responsibilities will succeed.

That also requires you to clearly communicate your expectations. Perhaps, no one has been able to meet your standards because no one really knows what or how it is that you want something done. Effective delegation requires that the employee knows exactly what outcome you want them to achieve. For example, if you are going to delegate delivering post-op instructions to your assistant, presumably you want patients to leave fully understanding what homecare steps they will need to follow. 

Tell your assistant exactly what you want her/him to cover with patients. Anticipate questions that the patient might ask and formulate answers. Identify which written materials will be given to patients. Determine who will place follow-up phone calls to patients, etc. Together, you can create a checklist of what is to be covered during the post-op discussion, which will help the assistant understand exactly what’s expected and put you at ease in relinquishing this responsibility.  Or, better yet, give general guidelines as to how you want the job carried out and be willing to allow the staff member to complete the task according to the plan they develop. Understandably, they may take a somewhat different approach than you do to achieve the same outcome.

Encourage your team to ask questions. Remember, they are not going to complete every task exactly the way that you would and they may make a mistake or two along the way, but with ongoing positive and constructive feedback they will develop the skills and confidence that will enable you and your team to achieve a whole new level of success.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

Forward this article to a friend.

Angie Stone RDH, BS
Printer Friendly Version

Time To Shine In 2009

With the New Year here thoughts undoubtedly turn to New Year’s resolutions.  What are you going to do differently this year than you did last year?  Are you going to work out more and eat healthier so you can lose weight?  Are you going to attempt to quit smoking? Maybe you will decide to try to be more patient with people.  Whatever is decided for a resolution, most of the promises will be made on a personal level.  While this is important, it is just as essential to make a professional resolution. 

The goal of a resolution is to improve over the next 12 months so at the end of 2009 your life is in a better place than it was at the end of 2008. What are some professional pledges that can be made? The first issue to be decided upon is what areas are lacking.  There may be many areas that could stand to be improved upon.  Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Improve the Hygiene department overall production numbers
  • Improve the Hygiene department’s periodontal production
  • Incorporate new technology/products into the hygiene department (including but not limited to):
    • Computerized periodontal charting
    • Oral cancer screening tools
    • Fluoride varnish treatments
    • Decay detection devices
    • Digital X-ray
    • Xylitol Products
    • Anti-decay products
    • Powered toothbrushes
    • Anesthetic choices
    • Piezo Scalers
    • Non-sharpening instruments
  • Increase treatment acceptance
  • Increase patient education
  • Improve marketing
  • Deliver more efficient scaling/root planing
  • Provide a more comfortable, enjoyable hygiene experience
  • Decrease appointment openings
  • Increase retention rate
  • Operate with the correct amount of hygiene days/hygienists

While these are some common areas that hygiene departments need assistance with, every practice has its own special needs. 

Oftentimes when people make personal resolutions they need to seek assistance from an outside source. How many weight loss centers are available to assist with weight issues?  Look in the yellow pages to find work out facilities. There are an abundance of them.  These services help the client assess where they are, how they got there, develop a plan to improve and most important of all assist the client in reaching the goals of the plan.

While facilities exist for these services, what aid can dental professionals seek to assist with their issues?  Consulting services have been developed for this very reason.  The Hygiene Practice Enrichment Program, available through McKenzie Management, has been specifically designed to address issues within the hygiene department.  It is apparent hygienists have been well trained in their formal education to perform hygiene services.  With time, hygienists improve their clinical skills through treating patients on a daily basis. They are not however, trained on how to assess strengths and weaknesses that exist in the clinical practice. Typically, the dentist has not been trained to assess the hygienist’s strengths or weaknesses either. Offices need assistance in assessing of the current state of their hygiene operations, determining what inefficiencies exist with current systems/skills which led to the current situation and most importantly, development and implementation of a plan to rid the department of these problems.

McKenzie Management hygiene consultants have been extensively trained to be able to thoroughly assess the strengths and weakness of hygiene operations. Their knowledge base is broad and includes practical hands-on hygiene experience,  academia as published authors, national speakers and are recognized as experts in their field. 

 Exploration, education, recommendations and implementation are the goals at hand.  “Light bulb” moments abound, minds are opened, ideas are shared, and plans are developed and executed. Results are measurable and positive. Lives of team members and patients are changed for the better. 

If you feel that, “2009 is Your Time to Shine” make a professional resolution this year.   Begin this process by contacting McKenzie Managements Director of Hygiene.  You are sure to be successful at making your resolution a reality!

Need help with implementing new systems in your hygiene department to ensure stellar performance? Email

Interested in having Angie speak to your study group or at your next seminar? Click here.

Forward this article to a friend.

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
Printer Friendly Version

Where Will You Be One Year From Today?

Write yourself a letter.

It’s the beginning of a new year. 2009. Perhaps you’re thinking, where did all the time go? And maybe you’re asking yourself, did I accomplish everything I wanted to do?

The trouble is that unless you took the time to write down your goals last year it will be hard to answer that question. You don’t have any documentation.

In his book, See You at the Top, motivational author and speaker Zig Zigler writes, “If you want to reach your goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal”. His words are substantiated by research findings about the power of visualization. Here’s a fun way to motivate yourself and set some images in your mind for the year ahead.

The first step is to fast forward in time. Imagine the date is January 1, 2010, one year from today. You are looking back over the past 365 days, feeling proud of all the things you achieved.

Now sit down and write yourself a letter. Allow yourself to have fun and be creative, especially with the feelings of excitement about all you have done. This letter is not the place to start writing specific time bound objectives, strategies and plans. Rather, it is a chance for you to direct your imagination into thinking playfully yet seriously about what it is that you want to achieve.

January 1, 2010

Dear Self,

What an incredible year it’s been! You’ve worked hard and it’s paid off.

As you write this letter, recount the events of 2009 in past tense…as if it’s already happened to you. Describe the adventures you’ve encountered, the places you’ve visited, and all the people you’ve met. Talk about the fun you’ve experienced over the year. Be as specific as possible in describing the successes you have achieved.

In particular, explain the improvements in your practice. Talk about the changes you’ve made in how you behave, and how that’s enabled you to be a better leader with your team. How you manage conflict constructively and communicate more effectively. Boast a bit about how you’ve increased your percentage of treatment conversions and especially about what you did to make that happen.

All that said, be real. You’re probably not going to triple your income over the next year. Nor will you be taking three months off to travel around the world in all likelihood. The purpose of this exercise is to strive for base hits, not home runs.

When you’ve finished your letter, sign it and make a few copies. Keep one by your computer and/or in your personal appointment book so you can read it over the next 12 months.

Put one copy into a self-addressed stamped envelope. Then place it into a larger envelope and give it to a friend. Include a note asking the friend to mail the first envelope back to you on December 30, 2009, the end of this year.

Over the next 365 days, you’ll need to keep yourself on track. To do this, schedule reflection time once each week. This is a short period of time, say 10-15 minutes. But it is sacred time. No filling it up with other tasks. This is quiet time for yourself. Honor it as you would in keeping a patient appointment. You’ll also need to get a notebook or design a log to answer the following questions:

  • What one thing did I do well this week? (You can list more than one.)
  • What will I do differently so that I am more effective next week?
  • What obstacles will I need to overcome to reach next week’s goal?
  • What resources will I use to support me in my efforts?

Make this year your best year. Write a letter to yourself and watch in amazement as you create a roadmap to a better life. And when you receive your letter at this same time next year, you’ll have a yardstick by which you can evaluate your progress. And I bet you’ll have lots to celebrate.

Happy New Year!

Need help setting goals to take your practice to the next level? Contact Dr. Haller at

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

Forward this article to a friend.

McKenzie Newsletter Information:
To unsubscribe:
To discontinue receiving the Sally McKenzie management newsletter,
click on the link at the very bottom of this page for instant removal,
To report technical problems with this newsletter or to request technical help,
please send a descriptive email to:
To request services, products or general inquires about The McKenzie Company activities
please send a descriptive email to:
If you would like to have any of your dental practice concerns answered personally by Sally McKenzie,
please send a descriptive email to her at:
Copyrights 1980-Present The McKenzie Company - All Rights Reserved.