To Grow Your Practice, First Grow Your People – Part 3

Last week, we were talking about how to set your team up for success by detailing the steps to take, actions to commit to, and most of all the routines to follow for developing your people.

The key word is: developing.  So much time, energy, investment, and effort are placed on clinical skills while the greatest investment of all is often neglected.  Most practices underestimate what is required to make your people more valuable to themselves, your patients, and your practice overall.

The biggest challenge in dentistry is that it is thought of as an inconvenience (or worse, wasted time) to work on your people by taking time away from patients.

Here’s the secret, just like you get out of your schedule what your schedule has been designed to deliver, you get out of your people what your culture has been built to achieve. 

When you shift this paradigm by finding excitement and passion in the development of your team and culture (because you know the impact it will ultimately have on your patients), then you will see a shift in your team’s excitement, passion, and initiative as well.

At best, most meetings are dealing with putting out fires or trainings that should have been done long ago or even worse they are sessions filled with complaints by people who are stressed out.

This brings me to the fifth and most important component for your team to thrive and succeed… have a culture of constant and never-ending improvement.  That means it can’t just be when things are going wrong or people make mistake that reactive corrections occur.

You see, great teams put in as much effort to understand what went right – and focus on repeating it – as they do in what went wrong.

The principle of positive reinforcement works not only in theory but in reality.  People are more apt to do things right again and again when they know what right looks like and when they are acknowledged for creating it.

Athletes don’t practice plays wrong so they can fix them.  They practice plays as perfectly as possible so they can build muscle memory of what success looks and feels like.

The culture in most practices is one of reactive measure… when things go wrong, the mistakes are brought up and addressed.

Or the alternative is everyone is too busy to stop and do anything about the mistakes.  There is no time to make the day less rushed and stressful by figuring out a way to work smarter not harder in order to break the cycle they are in.

If you take a deep look at the practices that have everything going for them (high performing team, profitable, few missed opportunities, satisfied patients), it is one that is filled with people who feel good about being there, about what they do, about achieving more than just patient visits, and about having something to show for a day’s effort.

This is almost always anchored by beginning AND ending each day with a team huddle so that there is nothing reactive needed because everything is proactively checked on, accounted for, discussed, and decided on before the next day begins.

There is open, honest, and transparent communication between all people and team members take the lead on the strategy at both points in the day.   The doctors are a (critical) piece in the puzzle, but not the entire puzzle by themselves.

Most of all, they take time to call out great teamwork, reward excellent execution, and use teaching moments to positively nurture someone.

Teams that falter and that never live up to their potential (or at least are not consistent with their successes), are ones that fall into one of two categories…

Most often they have a “woe is me” mentality and mindset that everything is hard, every patient is difficult, and every day is stressful.  It is an energy that no one would want to stay there for long and certainly has no desire to leave much money behind.

The other category that gets in the way is really the opposite which is total complacency and lack of critical assessment.  Practices that feel like they’ve already arrived, got everything figured out, or demonstrate an attitude of arrogance always end up with the worst culture and team dynamic of all.  Often times, they can put up the numbers but not without everyone talking behind each other’s back, being secretly miserable at the stifled potential, and being one bad day from total dysfunction with greater stress than ever before.

With both of these flawed practice cultures, the secret sign is everyone blames everyone else.  Worse still, even when things are going well no one is happy.

Now, sitting here reading this, it is doubtful that you experience the extremes of either of these.  Nonetheless, everyone can still benefit from more positivity, a culture of optimism, and the opportunity for forward thinking.

And that is why believing in and embracing not just the principle and mindset but the action and commitment of constant, never-ending improvement.  You avoid these pitfalls because, just like you treat every patient like a new patient, you treat every day like a new day – which it is – and a fresh start to do your best.

When you look for the good, you always find more good.  That doesn’t mean you ignore or deny the bad – you can do both – but it is unemotional and without judgment because we believe we can always get better.

The greatest champions have a confidence about them because they are well practiced and know they are ready, but they also have a humbleness about them that says nothing from yesterday matters for today will be judged by the actions and results of today.  So chip off the shoulder, head down, mind focused, eyes open, attitude right, and ready to make it the best by doing your best.

Practices breakthrough because people breakthrough.

And no matter what you want to breakthrough to or from, you will always come back to this: when people become more valuable everything else becomes more valuable.

The value is elevated by the commitment to develop, nurture, grow, and invest in the people – the greatest assets you have who make everything else possible.

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