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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  10.24.03 Issue #87

Breaking Down the ‘Meet’ of the Issues Barrier

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   If you cringe at the thought of “wasting” away valuable production hours stuck around a table pretending that you’re holding a high level staff strategy session, then it sounds like it’s time for you to get to the “meet” of what makes the meeting a profit builder rather than loss leader.

With input from each employee determine the specific areas each team member is expected to report on at the meetings and what those reports will involve. For starters, assess the current performance of key systems, and

identify barriers that may be interfering with the ability of those areas/systems to achieve their goals. Use the collective problem solving skills of the group to develop strategies to address those barriers.

Be mindful of the meeting fundamentals to ensure team input and keep the process running smoothly. Follow these 15 practical steps.

  1. Develop an agenda with input from the entire team.
  2. Distribute it in advance of the meeting.
  3. Encourage team members to come prepared to discuss topics on the agenda.
  4. Discuss only what is on the agenda
  5. Designate a facilitator/leader, other than the doctor, to “guide” the group in reaching consensus.
  6. Seek input from everyone.
  7. Ask questions such as, “How do you feel about this? What is your reaction to that? As the patient, how would you react? What are the advantages of this approach? What are the potential disadvantages?”
  8. Delegate responsibility and establish deadlines for completing tasks identified during the staff meetings.
  9. Create an environment where team members listen objectively to other’s comments and feel valued for their contributions to the meetings.
  10. Share ideas during staff meetings for improving the work environment, the patient experience, and the efficiency of the practice.
  11. Determine how much time you will spend discussing each issue and avoid getting bogged down on unrelated topics.
  12. Hold staff meetings off-site in a conference room with a conference table.
  13. Eliminate outside interruptions.
  14. Seek consensus from the staff as to the best time to hold staff meetings; meetings scheduled outside normal work hours should be paid.
  15. Hold meetings at least once per month, more frequently if you are implementing several changes.

Evaluate the quality of your planning meeting by answering the following questions. Were the discussion topics known prior to the meeting? Did co-workers have an opportunity to contribute to the meeting? Was the meeting environment comfortable? Did the meeting start and finish on time? Did everyone have a voice in the discussion? Did anyone dominate the meeting? Were minutes distributed after the meeting to document what was discussed? Were recommended actions given deadlines for completion? Was each topic given adequate time? Were there outside interruptions?

A clear plan and solid focus will turn every meeting into positive exchanges the entire team will not only participate in but will genuinely look forward to.

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

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

Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?

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 8
More Patient WOW

Last week [see article], we discussed exposing your patients to the “hidden value” in breadth and scope of your diagnostic routine. This week, I received an email from another practice management/technology lecturer in England.

I want to share what he said, give him proper credit, and explain the importance.

Mark, Here are a couple of our top wows

1. Every call the patient makes to the practice has notes recorded about it in the same place. This way we can ensure information flow between all team members so that no matter who answers the phone you are informed about the patients situation. To the patient we therefore appear not only in control but as though the person on the phone is THE most important person to call that day.

Mark’s response ...

What Fraser is explaining here are the benefits of the team being prepared and on the “the same page” with each patient. Specifically, he is using the patient note, contact processor, or contact notes feature of his software. Different software vendors in the U.S. have different names for basically the same feature. If you do not currently store the results of these conversations – start doing so immediately. One of the keys is to get everyone to use it. The second key is getting everyone to “view” the patient notes when the patient calls, before they arrive, before they are seated, before they are examined, before they are treated, and before they are called by your office.

2. Scanned documents - all incoming paper mail is scanned and shredded. If a patient asks about anything relating to their specialist while in the chair, two mouse clicks bring the relevant documents up on screen.

This is the same concept as the patient notes. The key is centralized (efficient) access to routinely viewed information. Rather than typed notes from a conversation, document imaging allows the user to “view” pieces of paper much like viewing pieces of paper in a traditional paper chart. In the U.S., insurance cards, HIPAA releases, medical history forms, referring provider reports, etc., are all wonderful examples of information you would scan into your practice management software.

Thanks for the weekly articles, as someone who lectures on Dental IT here it is always great to read your column and see how much convergence there actually is between practices in our countries.

Kind regards


Thank you Fraser. Your email is a wonderful reality check for all of our readers. Dentists all over the globe are just beginning to tap the true potential of their technology. I am sure our readers have gained confidence by reading your results.

Everyone…..stop by to see Sally and I at our booth #5883 at the ADA!

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

The Cat's Away & The Mouse Plays


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

Dear Coach,

I bought this practice two years ago and was fortunate to find, what I thought was a very good

and loyal team. Unfortunately, I have found out to the contrary and want some advice on what to do. You see, I went away for a week to a continuing education course and I decided to keep the office open with assigned tasks for my receptionist, hygienist and assistant to do while I was gone. I guess it’s the old adage, ”While the cat’s away…the mice will play.” Well it wasn’t my entire team that decided to play but my receptionist. She left early on two days (like 3 hours early) and didn’t come in on Friday. Well, I assumed they were all here 40 hours that week and paid them as usual. The assistant, hygienist and myself were in the lab today and the hygienist happened to mention that maybe all of the charts would have gotten purged if Mary had been there the whole week. Well, I said “What?” and she proceeded to tell me about her absenteeism. Well, now I feel betrayed. I feel I can’t trust her and I know I have to confront her but I’m not sure what to say. She has been a very good receptionist, i.e., keeping my schedule full and very valuable to business but what do I do now?

Dr. Torn in Half

Coach Replies:

There are three key issues in this question. The first is stealing, the second is doing the right thing, and the third is the parent-child dynamic present in your dental office.

  1. Your employee stole from you. This not only demonstrates a dishonest personal value system, but it also betrays a sense of disrespect for you as the employer, contempt for the other people on the staff, and arrogance regarding her work obligations. I will tell you that her corrupt personal value system and the accompanying problems were present in the office long before you went away.
  2. While you describe her as a “very good receptionist and very valuable” I think it bears consideration that there are things about her that you did not know or refused to acknowledge. Perhaps you are not aware of your team’s personal dynamics and perhaps you deliberately choose to ignore them. Regardless, you are responsible to know your team. Any signs of conflict, resentment, or jealousy are simply negative events in the making for a bigger event.
  3. Her arrogance is not only evident in that she takes off six hours out of an 8 hour work day, but then she takes off a whole day. I ask myself what does she think of you and the other staff members that she can flagrantly do as she pleases. And she does this in front of the staff. What is she thinking? Does this bother you?
  4. In her mind, she has a very good reason for disrespecting you and the other team members. However, she is probably not aware of it. Therefore, asking why is a waste of time.
  5. If she felt that she could steal from you and that there were no repercussions or consequences, or that she knew the repercussions and consequences and didn’t care, or she knew the repercussions and consequences and wanted to test you, then this problem was effectively just waiting to occur and had been in the making for a long time.
  6. Telling this woman that you are very disappointed in her and that she violated your trust communicates nothing that she doesn’t already know. She knows that she was stealing from you, she knows that she violated your trust, and she must believe that she has a good reason.
  7. I would also encourage you to look at your other employees. They did the right thing and were not ashamed to stand up to her. They defended your honor, and in defending your honor, they brought a lot of heat down on themselves. In telling the truth and confronting the problem, they were protecting you.
    How do you feel about having the staff defend you?
  8. It is likely that there has been an imbalance of personality and job responsibility on your team for a long time. If you were not aware of any anger, resentment, or jealousy then you missed the telltale signs that something was wrong with your team.
  9. It is important that you not let go of the situation and give up control. You are the one person who can determine exactly how it plays out. If you keep her employed, do not let the staff fight it out. This decision or tactic just betrays the fact that your team is a boat without a rudder.

It is essential that the consequence of her behavior be sufficient. Deducting the day’s pay is simply taking back what was yours to begin with. There is no punishment here. It is critical that you voice your feelings accurately: you stole from me. Do not ask why? The answer is of no consequence.

I will offer you that the seeds of this problem were around long before you went away. Your absence was an opportunity to vent some anger and resentment not only upon you but upon the team, as well.

Your responsibility is to make clear what you expect in the form of behavior. They may be technically proficient, but as a person, they are dishonest. You have the power to keep her and accept responsibility for her dishonesty, but why would you undermine the loyalty of your other staff?

Finally, I want you to understand that her dishonesty is negative energy, and if you tolerate the presence of her negative energy, you will send a message to the rest of the team that dishonesty and disrespect of the leader is acceptable. The team will lose respect for you and you will have more problems in the future.

By-the-way, I do not think the assistant who stole from you will quit; she is a child and has been reprimanded and punished (sort of) as expected. However, the greater danger is that you may lose some of your other staff because of your lack of consistency, strength, and integrity, at least in their eyes.

The Coach

Want your issues answered? Ask the

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

Want to know why your employees act and interact the way they do?

Then this book is for you!

Maximize Practice Performance
Understanding How Personality Types Can Affect Practice Success

Problems in dental offices are caused by a breakdown in communications due to different personality styles. Understanding your employees' personality traits can help to better match your staff with the work they are likely to do best.

Based on the Myers Briggs Temperament Type, each job position in dentistry, business, clinical and hygiene is discussed as to which personality types are best suited to fill those positions. Dentists will learn how their personality affects their ability to successfully manage the business and its employees. Included is the book Please Understand Me which provides the personality test and scoring form.

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How To Recover
The Lost $$$
In Your Practice
Find and recover money that your practice is losing because of operational ineffectiveness. Money, waiting to be found is all around you. It’s in your hygiene department, at your front desk, in your recall system, in your treatment room and throughout other areas of your practice. You’ll learn how to develop and implement a ‘results proven’ plan to improve your operations and prevent the problems from reoccurring.
FRIDAY, OCT. 31, 2003
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Sally's Mail Bag

Dear Sally,
I am sick of paying the bills. Every weekend I am working on checking lab bills, dental supply invoices and it’s so time consuming. I am thinking of delegating this to one of my two business employees. What do you think?
Dr. North

Dear Dr. North,
I don’t think that’s a good idea and I would not recommend it. I realize this is a time consuming procedure that has to be done but it does not bring in business or generate revenue for your practice. You want your business employee being proactive making, for example, 5 to 10 calls a day on unscheduled treatment plans or past due recall patients that brings in business, not paying bills. We have also found that this confidential information becomes a bit much for some employees to handle emotionally and sometimes have not kept the information confidential. My advice is to get an “outside” bookkeeping service, perhaps a referral from your accountant to handle this for you.

Are you wondering if your hygiene department is producing what it could be?

Dr. Allan Monack's hygienist produces $1231 a day seeing
1 patient an hour with a
prophy fee of $70.

What's your hygienist producing?

Dr. Monack is the Hygiene Clinical Consultant for McKenzie Management. He can help you produce the same results.
To find out more about the Hygiene Clinical Enrichment Program [go here], contact us at or call: 877-777-6151

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