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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  9.12.03 Issue #81

Settling for Mediocrity or Pushing for Performance?

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   You can build a fantastic, state-of-the-art office. You can offer the very best dentistry available. And you can WOW your patients with so much amazing technology that your operatories look like the inner workings of the space station, but if you don’t have the team to back it all have nothing!

If ever there were a topic that could cause sleepless nights and angst filled days, it’s s-t-a-f-f, the five-letter word that will have you

bursting with pride or clenching with aggravation. Dealing day-to-day with employees who need direction, guidance, and occasionally discipline is often a major challenge for even the best practices. Let’s face it, dentistry is what the doctor does best, and having to venture into what you perceive as messy personnel matters likely feels more like a run with the Pamplona bulls than a routine business task. Yet you rely on your employees to keep your practice functioning smoothly. You want to trust that they can and will operate in the best interests of the patients and the business. All the more reason you need to look carefully at your team and ask yourself if you really do have confidence in them. Do they uphold the standard of excellence that you have committed yourself to?

Or has your practice become the final resting place for the ever-popular Matron of Mediocrity. She’s been there a long time. She’s comfortable. She knows the routine. She doesn’t go out of her way to impress you or the patients, and she hasn’t had a performance review since … well who can remember those things. While we’re on the topic of average performance, Ms. Mediocrity probably isn’t alone. She likely has a following. They are the Mediocre Minions. But here’s the wake-up call, it’s not necessarily that they choose to do a poor or average job, it’s more likely that they have not been challenged to perform at their best.

It’s easy to just shake your head and tell yourself “good help just can’t be found,” but if you look closely, muscle up a couple of key systems, you may just discover that you have an excellent team just waiting to show you a thing or two. Most employees sincerely want to perform well. They want to be challenged. They want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Next week five steps to shape your perfect team.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
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Building On The Theory

How An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
“Digital Chaos”

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

Technology Tool Box

Clinical Computing – Part 2

Last week, I discussed some realities and solutions of treatment room (clinical) computing [see article]. This week, I promised to discuss training requirements, clinical database preparation, and the first stages of implementation.

Training requirements

Chances are, your assistants, hygienists, and dentists are all excited but quite possibly afraid of this transition. It is also reasonable to assume that there would be varying degrees of fear among the clinical team. You may have one clinical team member who loves the idea of using the computer because they may be younger and have been around computers their whole life. On the other hand, some of us “not as young” people could be intimidated at first. The answer here is training. My rule of thumb is 6 hours of training per clinical team member. So, if you have a solo general practice with one assistant, one hygienist, and one dentist – you will be best served by planning for 18 hours of professional training. If your team is larger, you “can” consolidate some of those hours. I hesitate to say that (if you’ve read my articles – you know why), but certainly I have seen 5 hours per person work out quite well with larger teams.

The training will no doubt begin with database preparation (see below). After all, you can’t fly if you don’t have wheels, wings, and a propeller on your plane. Once your trainer teaches you database preparation, you need to all agree to a timetable and individual assignments to get the database preparation done.

Once your trainer has shown you the database preparation, I recommend practicing a “start to finish” new patient experience. Many trainers use the trainee’s own record in the database for practice. Your goal here is to recognize the “steps” and “flow” of information entry. Everyone’s hope is that you will begin to see a direct parallel between your old paper chart and the way the information goes into your computer system.

Will you be ready to begin clinical computing on live patients the next day? NO! You haven’t prepared your database yet.

Clinical database preparation

Database preparation in the clinical area can take as long, or longer, than what it took to prepare the database to run your business. Ninety percent of the database preparation revolves around the entry of clinical notes (both restorative and soft tissue) For every ADA code, you should have the opportunity to have one default clinical note if not multiple choices. These all need to be typed into the database BEFORE you go “live” with actual patients. Once you get the hang of it, you will do a lot of “cutting and pasting” to make the data entry more efficient. The other 10% of the database preparation will be centered around “personalizing” each workstation for how the user (team member) likes to work. Another area of setup will be centered around your exam sequence for both new and established patients. Training your voice activation software (if you have that feature) requires significant time during setup. With voice activation, training the human who is going to use it, isn’t the main issue. Voice recognition systems need the user to speak into the system so it recognizes each individual’s voice commands. In this case, you are actually “training the computer”. It’s not hard but it does take time. And, like so many other things in the technology world – the more time you take to set it up properly, the more time it saves you down the road.

Initial stages of implementation

The most successful transitions have invested the time to have “practice day”. Practice day is a scheduled series of hours where the whole team works on each other. Examinations are done, treatment is planned, treatment is completed, notes are entered, financial arrangements are made, next appointments are booked. The key here is to practice, practice, practice. But, take the heat off of everyone and practice on each other. The atmosphere will be a lot less stressful. Actually, it can get quite fun! One added recommendation is to have your trainer there with you on practice day. Yes, I know it means having the trainer back into the office again. But, if you adhere to the 5-6 hours of training per person rule – your trainer will need to be there on multiple days anyway.

Next week I will discuss “Day One!” What to expect, how to handle it, and some ways to accelerate your progress through the transition.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

See Mark's Technology Workshop titled Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues on Dec. 10th in La Jolla. For more information email or call 1-877-900-5775

Getting The Cold Shoulder


Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To Day Issues

The Artist verses the Businessman

Last week’s article addressed the attributes that I find so prevalent in the field of dentistry when doing executive coaching. While

everyone has their own individual profile of natural talents, there are some general skills and talents that are common to the people attracted to dentistry. This column continues with the attributes commonly shared by dentists.

Eleven Attributes Dentists Share In Common ... continued

Cautious: people in the field of human services are often very aware of the possible negative consequences of their efforts and good intentions. It is this awareness of the negative consequences that leads to a deliberate attempt at minimizing the impact of illness and age. Their cautious nature helps them to move slowly and deliberately toward the goal of relieving suffering through an approach that is deliberately intended to permit the other people involved in the process to gather their own information. Such deliberate behavior permits them to feel good and responsible for the ultimate success of their efforts.

Independence: many people attracted to this profession are also committed to working independently and without the supervision of others. This propensity to work without supervision is sometimes a type of rebellion, however, from a positive perspective, it is a reflection of confidence and competence in their abilities to do good work without the oversight that is often necessary for people of lesser ability and talent.

Clarity and Focus: the ladies and gentleman of the profession of dentistry also possess an ability to see what they want from their careers, their business, and their patients; however, even more important, they make a substantial effort to understand and appreciate what others want from them. Their ability to focus in on the problem at hand and the ability to clarify the solutions, not only for their clients, but also for the staff, helps to keep everyone engaged in the process and feeling like a part of the solution.

Dignity: people who are drawn to dentistry understand that they are tying their identity and their definition of themselves and their purpose in life to their daily vocation. Who we are in life is as much a reflection of what we believe as what we do. Committing ourselves to a personal definition allows others to identify us in a crowd. Many of the ladies and gentlemen I meet in dentistry are often excessively proud of their association with other givers of human services and exceptionally proud of their personal contribution.

Integrity: this final attribute represents the integration of all the time, effort, and personality that the professionals of dentistry take upon themselves in their own self-interest and the interest of their patients. They have successfully integrated their education with their desire to express themselves to the world through their commitment to business. A dentist’s integrity is perhaps the most complex element of this list. Because integrity can be defined so differently by so many people, it is often lost in the assessment of what really matters. Dentists are people who serve others and direct every action toward relieving someone else's suffering in the name of a greater good. This greater good feels natural and provides direction for their efforts. The integrity required to make such decisions often goes unacknowledged.

THE ART OF COACHING is about helping clients to discover and analyze these 11 essential traits in their life and work. Coaching is about finding these natural attributes and raising them to a level of awareness that allow the practitioner to feel good about their decisions, their accomplishments, and their goals to date and beyond. It may seem unrealistic to believe that there are people who do not appreciate or recognize their natural talents, but the truth remains that the people who require the services of coaching the most are exactly those people who do not see their own value and contribution to the larger picture of their life, their family, their staff, and their patients.

Coaching is about helping to raise the awareness of the world around the professional who finds themselves to be shut down and isolated from the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from a career and life well lived and freely expressed. Coaching is about teaching a client to acknowledge the importance of their world, the contribution they make to the world that they share with the rest of us.

Want your issues answered? Ask the

Don’t miss The Coach’s workshops on Oct. 8th, Office Politics …The Enemy Within, on November 8th, Taking Your Practice Back – Leaderhip Development for Dentistry. For more information email or call 1-877-900-5775

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This issue is sponsored
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San Diego Workshop Series
Fall/Winter Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Oct. 3
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Oct. 8
 9:00 - 4:30
Office Politics ... The Enemy Within
 Oct. 31
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Nov. 7
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Nov. 8
 9:00 - 4:30
Taking Your Practice Back - Leadership Development for Dentistry    
 Nov. 14
 9:00 - 4:30
Unleashing Your Team's Potential & Optimizing Clinical Efficiency Risa Simon, CMC.  
 Nov. 19
 9:30 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 5
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 6
 9:00 - 4:30
Office Politics ... The Enemy Within    
 Dec. 10
 9 - 12pm
Boosting Your Hygiene Department Allan Monack, DDS FAGD
Hygiene Clinical Director
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 10
 1 - 4
Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 17
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
To Register 877-900-5775 or

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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