4.5.13 Issue #578 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

8 Essential "Connections" for Your Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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With the explosion of social media in recent years, it seems that everyone is trying to connect with anyone. In fact, as marketing guru and best-selling author Seth Godin recently noted, we have entered what he terms the “connection economy.” In dentistry, you’ve had to “connect” with patients long before social media became all the rage. The question for dentists isn’t whether to connect, but rather how well you can maximize those day-to-day connections. Consider these eight essential connection opportunities in your own practice.

1. Connect to your Passions
If you do not love what you do, I guarantee that your team and your patients know. Passion is a huge motivator. It is the spark that creates the fire to set and accomplish goals. Seeing that you have genuine passion for what you do convinces patients to pursue treatment. It excites and encourages your team to achieve the goals that might not have been possible without it.

2. Connect to your Goals
Every practice has room to grow and improve, regardless of whether you’re among the fortunate who have hit their stride and are thoroughly enjoying success, or if you’re still struggling to create the practice you’ve always dreamed of. The key is to honestly consider what you really want from dentistry, and whether you would rather settle for what you have or if you’re ready to take your practice to an entirely new level of success. Goals encourage your team to grow.

3. Connect to Change
Don’t accept status quo. The words “We’ve always done it this way” should be used rarely and to refer to such things as “We’ve always taken steps to ensure the highest level of patient safety and satisfaction.” If those words are used as an excuse to avoid considering new and better ways of delivering expert care to patients and efficiently running the practice, you have erected a huge barrier to practice improvement.

4. Connect to your Team
Most dental practices are small operations. You work closely with one another and there is no room for backbiting, hidden agendas, and the like. It’s essential that the CEO of the practice set the tone. Praise openly, establish expectations clearly, and constructively redirect when necessary. Successful businesses are successful because employees understand the vision, are motivated by the passion, and know what is expected.

5. Connect to Win Patients - All of Them
Your practice is competing with any number of dental offices in your community. What sets yours apart? Why should new patients choose your practice over the one around the corner? Why should existing patients come back? Many are looking for a cohesive team and a welcoming environment where they feel appreciated. They want to connect with a staff that is genuinely friendly and helpful. Of course, excellent dentistry and superior service are the foundation upon each and every lasting patient connection.

6. Connect to the Challenging Patient
This is the unhappy one who gives you an earful of everything you never wanted to hear and would have preferred not to know. Open your mind to the reality that this “connection” is a huge opportunity. And this patient has provided a very valuable service. Even though the moment is painful, take time to reflect on what the patient tells you. If you embrace this most challenging connection and are willing to look at how the practice can be bettered because of it, you will make huge strides – especially with those who feel the same, but don’t have the courage or the interest in connecting with you at this level.

7. Connect to Lost Patients
Reach out to patients that have not been in your practice for an appointment in the past 12 months. You will find many patients who are more than willing to schedule an appointment. They do so because you’ve demonstrated that you value this patient relationship and want to reconnect with them.

8. Connect to Reality 
If you aren’t willing to take the necessary steps internally to keep patients happily returning and are not interested in properly training staff to ensure an excellent patient experience, none of the other connections will make a difference. Consider each connection in your practice and how it can be improved. With some awareness and a little effort you’ll maximize your own “connection economy.”

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having Sally McKenzie Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Carol Tekavec, RDH
Hygiene Consultant
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Are You Perfect?
By Carol Tekavec RDH

After a long, hard day at the office, it is not uncommon to question one’s choice of profession. After all, performing dental treatment can be extremely stressful. We are working upside down and backwards in a small, wet, “cave” attached to fidgety, nervous people. Most of us are also trying to be “perfect” and supply perfect techniques and procedures under challenging circumstances and restricted time intervals. As a hygienist, I am somewhat driven. I know in my heart that I MUST get that last little smidgen of calculus removed from the distal of my patient’s maxillary left second molar, No Matter What! Hygiene

It is not surprising that sometimes we may wonder if we would have been happier working in a business far removed from dealing with people. People are so unpredictable, demanding, and irritating! Don’t our patients understand that we are doing what we are doing for their benefit? Don’t they know that we are attempting to provide them with a perfect result?

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, is a common and sensible maxim, but one that dental professionals have a hard time accepting. My late husband, a general dentist, used to laughingly tell me, “Perfect is average.” No wonder we often feel stressed!

After more than twenty years as a dental hygienist, I have found a few ways to cope with worries about being perfect at work. Some of these ideas are also extremely helpful during trying times in my private life as well.

Get some exercise. Starting the morning with a brisk walk outside, or inside on a treadmill, can do wonders for your outlook on life. If mornings are too busy, get some exercise at the end of the day. Even if you are tired, walking for just 20 minutes can help you de-stress, calm down, and feel better emotionally.

Talk to friends. Even though our friends are likely fairly biased, talking things over with a good friend can make all the difference in the world to our mood. It’s not that we should expect a friend to “fix” things. It is just the act of speaking our minds and being heard without judgment that can help. Letting bad feelings fester and grow makes for an unhappy life. Talking things out can also help us see possible solutions to our problems.

Get organized. Look for ways to streamline your patients’ appointments. Make sure that your treatment day is not encumbered by a chaotic schedule in a disorganized operatory. Look for ways to make patient treatment better and easier. A new technique, a fresh take on explaining periodontal disease, or a set of new curettes can make a big difference. I always feel better when I have a brand new Gracey 13/14 in my hand.

Stay away from office gossip. Being embroiled in co-workers’ personal issues can be trouble. This one will tell that one what you said, and then that one will be mad at this one and YOU. It is one thing to be friendly and supportive of co-workers, and another to set up camp on one side of an office dispute. If a co-worker tells you something that you know should not be repeated - don’t repeat it! And avoid supplying comments of your own. Being non-committal is usually the best course of action. Say, “oh my” and move on.

Realize that co-workers may not react to events the way you do. One of the best exercises that McKenzie Management provides offices is a personality profile delineating distinct differences in the way human beings respond to their surroundings. It is not that there is a right or wrong way to approach situations. It is simply that individuals have reactions based on their personality traits. When we understand a little bit about ourselves and others, it makes it easier to work together effectively and without as much conflict.

Celebrate your successes. A compliment from a patient, an improved perio chart for an SRP case, or good results from a treatment plan are all causes for a personal celebration. No one else in the office has to pat you on the back. You know what you have been able to do. Be happy about it!

Learn from less than ideal results. Don’t give up - keep trying. Even if an outcome is not perfect, it is likely much better than when the patient first came to the office, and probably quite good in the scheme of things. Do better next time with what you discover today.

We know that we are not perfect, but we can try to always provide the best service we can under the best circumstances we can supply. Personal integrity and resisting complacency are traits our patients recognize and reward. And they can provide us with better work satisfaction and general peace of mind.

Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management.  Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?  Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
Leadership Coach
McKenzie Management
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Change the Way You Deal with Change
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.

Change is a fact of life. When something’s not working or there’s a better option, change is necessary. Unfortunately, it is rarely easy. Change is emotional. So if you are going to make a change in your office you can bet that your employees will balk when faced with a disruption to their routines. That can make it very difficult to try and introduce changes, even small ones.

What I have observed about dental leaders is that they think about making changes well in advance of executing any action. This rational, analytical approach is consistent with a practical personality style. Then, when they finally decide to implement the change, they want to move at top speed. What is often forgotten is that it will take employees as much if not more time to embrace it. And trying to make a change without staff buy-in is a recipe for disaster.

When employees are not involved or kept informed of changes, they lose motivation. They wonder if there is a hidden agenda about why you are making the change. Even worse, the trust link between you and your team is threatened.

You may deliver the “it’s-going-to-be-better” speech to the staff. Or perhaps you use the “we-need-to-make-this-change-to-survive” version. These pep talks often do not inspire people. Remember that change and transition go hand-in-hand. “Change” is an event, but “transition” is a psychological process of adaptation to the change. Here are some basics to instill commitment, not just compliance. 

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Sharing your ideas early on gives you the opportunity for a ‘reality check’ to see where the pockets of resistance may be in advance. Based on employee reactions you can develop a strategy around the change process. Most importantly, explain the ‘why’ behind your plans for doing something new. For example, don’t announce that there will be a new recall system. Instead, voice your concerns about the holes in the schedule and the lost productivity. Tell your team that you are exploring solutions and invite them to make suggestions. Getting employees involved in solving problems increases their commitment.

2. Expect and Embrace Resistance
Human beings are creatures of habit and we like doing things the same way. Change takes people out of their comfort zone. It’s normal that some employees will resist, come to work with a chip on their shoulder, and/or make negative remarks. Encourage your staff to talk openly about what they are feeling and thinking, and listen patiently. Skepticism is a natural step in the change process. The more you can bring it out in the open the better for you in the long run. Hold meetings and let your staff air their grievances and doubts. In the course of those discussions you might even find more workable solutions to the problems you want to overcome. A calm tone and open style will reflect sensitivity. Beware…if you try to suppress the feelings, the emotions will go underground and that will become a passive-aggressive nightmare.
3. Be Patient, Empathize and Provide Training
Your employees are unlikely to change as quickly as you think they should. Give your staff time to understand and assimilate the first wave of change before introducing more. There are some dental leaders who prefer to make ‘macro’ changes rather than several small ones. They want to get the disruption over and move forward. Unfortunately, that’s akin to throwing someone in the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim. Most people are shocked by any major change. The bigger the change, the bigger the shock. Be supportive. Accept that mistakes will happen as employees learn new procedures. Celebrate small successes. An empathetic approach helps everyone, including you. 

4. Tune-In to Individual Difficulties
Recognize that change affects each person differently. Some employees are more adaptable than others. Top performers may roll up their sleeves to make things work, moving out of their comfort zone instantly. Others might be completely overwhelmed. Let them know you understand the challenges they are facing and that you are there to help them through it. Again, remember the importance of open communication. Check in with staff members frequently. Ask how they are doing and what you can do to assist them. Keep your door open to allow people to come in and discuss their concerns or apprehensions.

5. Be a Role Model
It is up to you as the dental leader to maintain employee morale through change. During tough times people will always watch how their leader is acting. Set the tone and be an example for others to follow. Don’t let your guard down when it comes to your attitude. You have to be up. Meeting the demands placed upon people during the change process requires managing job pressure for yourself and others. Reduce the stress by keeping an effort to maintain high morale.
It takes time and perseverance to win the hearts and minds of your employees to change. Be prepared for a range of emotions, thoughts, agreements and disagreements. After all, you probably experienced similar reactions when you initially contemplated the change. By adjusting your own perspectives and actions, you can help employees to follow your lead. 

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

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

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