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Coach’s Corner | March Madness and Your Team Wrecking My Bracket

For those of you who know me, you already know March is my favorite month when it comes to sports – it’s all about March Madness baby! I have coached various levels of girls’ basketball, from elementary age to AAU for nearly two decades. In fact, I even enjoy seeing a team wreck my bracket since that means the team performed better than expected. Doesn’t that sound great – to perform better than expected. As the doctor, wouldn’t you love to say your team performed better than expected- of course you would!
Being able to say that about your team is possible. It takes planning and executing the plan – much like the top teams vying for the championship. That is why I love teaching leadership using the coaching model since everyone understands what I am referring to. Coaching gives you the anchor point when learning how to lead your team.

I am writing this before the first round takes place so I cannot make any statements about any games yet. What I can do is draw some analogies for you since I am sure you will see some examples during the tournament.

I mentioned planning. Without a doubt every coaching staff is looking for a certain player to round out their team each season. They are looking for a special skill set or stats and strengths that they need. The same thing is true for your dental team. Do you know their strengths? If not, please get in touch with me – I use some personality testing so you know as the head coach what you should be looking for in your team.

Once you have solidified your team, what plays will you run? What offense and defensive sets fit the team you are coaching? What is your philosophy of coaching? In your practice, this would match your mission and your philosophy of practicing dentistry. How do you want your players to interact with you and your coaching staff and with each other? This is akin to the culture you have created in your dental practice. For those of you who are familiar with my Coach’s Corner, you already know I define culture as what is or is not acceptable in your practice.

When it comes to your expectations as the head coach, do you want your team to hustle? Do you play tough each possession of the ball? Are you teaching mental and physical toughness? Believe it or not, this matches your dental practice as well. Think about each team member’s role and responsibility in your practice. Do they need to follow your process and protocols or is it ok for them not to do their job? Do you expect your team to work until completion of a task or is it ok to quit when it gets tough? You are all smart, you know exactly what I am describing. Have you created a team that encourages one another when things get tough?

If anything I have written causes you to pause and wonder what your team would do, please get in touch with me. It could be you need a little help in the planning stage or maybe some tweaks in the execution of your plan.

Here’s to your team wrecking the bracket!

You can reach Lynne via email lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com

4 of the Best Team Building Practices | Dental Management Consultant

Dental Business Coach

Your team is vital to the success of your practice. Working in a positive atmosphere is sure to keep every member motivated for long-term success. The opposite is also true. If you have noticed your team’s synergy slipping, it may stem from a lack of communication. Here are three proven ways to boost your team’s morale and work ethic.

Know your work style

To lead a successful team, you must be aware of how you work as a leader. Understanding your leadership techniques and styles will help you tailor your techniques to your team’s needs. Don’t be afraid to be critical of yourself and continue to look for new ways to improve.

Get to Know Your Team

Our dental consultant recommends to get to know your team members on a more personal level (while always keeping things professional). Learn their strengths and growth areas and understand what they expect out of you as a leader. This will make them feel heard and feel invested in one another, you, and the practice as a whole. It also helps to define roles and responsibilities clearly.

Delegate According to Strength

When you get to know your team members as individuals, you will have a better understanding of how to delegate tasks. This gives you the opportunity to clearly define each member’s roles and responsibilities around the office. Giving a clear vision to each member will allow them to make strides in their respective areas.

Give Constructive Feedback

Employees like to know how they are doing on the job. Remember to give them plenty of feedback on where they excel and how they can improve. Be tactful in making corrections, tailor your feedback to how they best receive it, and always be conscious of celebrating their successes.

Leaders are only as successful as their teams. Appreciate who they are as individuals and you will appreciate what they do as employees. They will respect and appreciate you on a personal and professional level, too, if you play to their strengths and deliver feedback in an affirming way. If you are looking for help with management, team-building techniques, or you need help improving your practice, contact our dental coach today and speak with one of our highly experienced consulting professionals.

What to Do About a Chronically Late Team Member | Dental Business Coach

Dental Business Coach

Our dental business coach see this all too often. The daily team meeting has begun and you realize that one of your seasoned staff members is missing. To the best of your recollection, this is the fourth time that they have been late to a morning huddle in the past three weeks. As you go through the agenda for the meeting you suddenly notice that the tardy employee has quietly snuck into the back of the room. Their arrival is now greeted with subtle head shakes and sighs from around the room. Clearly the entire staff has now become aware of this problem. How do you address this issue with your team members?

Employees who are chronically late to work can reduce the overall productivity of your practice. It often lowers the morale and work ethic of other team members who might resent that the late arrivers aren’t getting reprimanded for their lack of respect for the schedule. It might even encourage other employees to show up late to work if they see no consequence for the detrimental behavior. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to encourage your employee to correct their behavior.

1. Identify the Behavior

You have already recognized that your team member has developed a bad habit of showing up late for work. Not only are they missing out on portions of your morning huddle meetings, but their absence is starting to cause a noticeable delay in the patient schedule. The other members of your staff have also begun to voice their displeasure through verbal and non-verbal cues. Be proactive in your approach with this employee. Make a point of documenting their arrival time so that you have data to support your claims that the employee is chronically late to work. Be prepared to share this with the team member at your meeting.

2. Confidentiality

Each member of your team deserves confidentiality when discussing matters that relate to their performance. You want to save them from public humiliation and the possibility that you may escalate the problem even further. Inform your employee that you have scheduled a meeting with them in private to discuss your concerns.

3. Be Clear, Be Objective, and Listen

Once the meeting has begun, identify your specific concerns with your employee. Use the tardiness data that you have accumulated to state your case. Explain how their chronically-late behavior has impacted their fellow team members and the practice in general. Share your disappointment, but keep your emotions in check and remain as objective and neutral in tone as possible. Pause as you allow your employee an opportunity to respond to you. It is critical that you listen carefully to what they have to say. Take a few moments to write down pertinent notes of what is being said. Your goal is to help them identify the root cause of the behavior so that you both can develop an achievable action plan.

4. Create an Action Plan

You have spent a few moments listening to your team member describe why they continue to be late. You underscore that you have clear expectations for their behavior moving forward. Those expectations have to be tailored to the reasons behind the excessive tardiness. Perhaps the employee is dealing with an illness or a family issue previously unbeknownst to you. What matters is that you have laid out a clear and concise plan moving forward. When the team member leaves the meeting, they should recognize that “if I don’t do this- then this action step will occur.” In any case, they need to know that more serious consequences will occur should this behavior continue.

5. Put it in Writing

After the meeting has concluded, recall the dialogue that took place as well as any notes that you may have written. Take some time to carefully craft a memo that simply restates what took place during the meeting with your team member. Mention the reasons why the meeting was held; the reasons the employee gave to you for their behavior, and the action steps that will be taken moving forward. Once the memorandum is completed, hand a copy to the employee for their records and keep another copy for your use. This document becomes critical should the employee continue to demonstrate similar poor behavior in the future.

6. Positive Reinforcement

Positive praise and reinforcement will go a long way towards improving employee behavior. Take every opportunity to recognize your team member making the effort to curb their actions. Let them know that they are still valued and appreciated. You will often find that this praise will motivate them even further.

If you’re looking for more business management tips, or have other areas of your practice that need improvement, let us help! Contact our dental consulting firm to schedule a consultation.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Coach’s Corner | Hiring the Right Team Member

I received such a great response to last month’s Coach’s Corner that I wanted to go further into the hiring process. Specifically, what to look for when hiring the right team member for your practice. Let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page. Last month I discussed the difference between having employees and having a true team work with you. The leader of the team is the doctor, and you will need to create your own game plan for your practice. Part of that game plan is writing down your mission, your vision, and your culture of the practice.

When looking for a new team member, hiring just anyone to fill the vacancy is not good enough. I’ve often said, “hire for character and teach the skill”. There are many new hires in the dental industry that have no past work experience in the field, obviously these are for non-clinical roles in your practice. I believe the personality that you are looking for as well as the character of the individual is more important than their skill set. When looking for additional team members, remember you have the ability to teach how you want things to be done. If they show the initiative and have the self-discipline needed to work in your dental practice, then that is what you should be looking for. Again, focusing on someone’s character and then teaching them the skill. All new team members will need to be onboarded correctly in your practice regardless of their past dental experience. Until someone has worked with you, they do not know how things are done in your practice and all of that needs to be taught. If you find yourself needing to hire new team members, then please start writing out an onboarding plan for every role in your practice. This plan will help you set up all new team members for success in your practice.

After you have found an applicant that has the character you are looking for, then you will need to make sure they align with the culture you are creating or have created in your practice. Last month’s Coach’s Corner I refer to culture as what is acceptable or not acceptable. I believe culture or defining culture is something that we really make harder than we need to. It’s that simple – what’s acceptable or not acceptable in your practice. In other words, what behaviors are acceptable or not acceptable in your practice.

In addition to culture, you will want to share your philosophy of dentistry. Your philosophy is something that should be covered in your mission statement. This needs to be shared with a potential candidate to make sure that everyone is in alignment. If they do not share the same viewpoint then please do not try to fit a square peg in a round hole; it will not work. I want you to be set up for success right from the beginning so that is why I’m mentioning all of these things. Next to share is your vision statement which is forward thinking. The manner in which I create vision statements with my clients is so encompassing, that it becomes part of your business plan. To make sure everyone is on the same page, please share these items with your potential hires.

All of these previously mentioned items are necessary to put your practice in the most honest and relevant light with new hires. It has been my experience that new hires are looking for most of these things: a dental family that focuses on patient care, want to be a true team member, and want a healthy, non-toxic culture. Having the right culture and doing the work to have a mission, vision, and culture written down is really a competitive advantage for your practice. Practices that want to be the best will invest their time in creating all of these things because of the importance to the team and the practice. The most important is all of this is done to make patient care the priority. Bringing like-minded individuals together on a team is the first step to make sure that you and your practice are as successful as they can be.

If you need help creating your plan or you have questions, please contact me lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com

How to Manage Difficult Employees and Reduce Office Conflict | Dental Consultant Near Me

Dental Practice Consulting

Running and managing a dental practice is no easy task. One of the most common shared concerns is  the challenge of managing people. In both small and  large practices, even one difficult employee can cause enough problems to interrupt business and potentially impact profits. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for addressing staff issues that occur when an employee refuses to comply with office rules and directions.  Adopting a process and tailoring it to fit your needs can help you potentially avoid unwanted confrontations that lead to even larger business concerns. Learn how to handle difficult employees now so you and your whole team can get back on the path to success. Here are some tips from our dental consultants to help you do just that.

Speak to Them Privately and Listen

Open communication with staff members can help solve and sometimes avoid issues with employees as soon as they arise. If a member of your team consistently fails to take direction, sit down with them privately and have an open discussion. Share your concerns with your employees using clear language and simple, open-ended questions. Making sure to truly listen to their  responses during these conversations is also important. Once your employee responds, restate what they said back to them to avoid communication breakdowns, e.g., “So what I heard you say is that you didn’t follow our customer service procedure because you did not understand what was expected of you, is that right?”

Monitor and Document Progress

Once clear communication has occurred between you and your employee, make sure to document and monitor the situation and its progress consistently. Employees can sometimes feel their needs fall on deaf ears, and in these instances, they will go right back to the same way of doing things. Showing that management cares and is working towards a solution can lead to a behavioral shift sooner rather than later. On the flip side, if progress is not seen consistently or at all, it may be time to consider a more formal disciplinary approach.

Taking Disciplinary Action

Addressing a difficult employee using disciplinary action (formal write up, demotion, or employment termination) is never easy. As a business owner, it is unfortunately something you will likely have to deal with at some point. Remember, the goal of early disciplinary action is to help improve the behavior and keep the employee/employer relationship moving in a positive direction. Having clear, well-defined policies that you can refer back to is essential so that you can deal with the potential legal and team morale issues that may arise, should the situation lead to termination of employment.

If you are dealing with a difficult employee or would like to consult on other areas of your practice, contact our dental business coach today.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Can Your Practice Benefit From an In-Office Dental Plan? | Dental Business Coach

Dental Practice Consulting

It can be difficult as a business owner and dental professional to see a patient leave your practice without receiving treatment simply because they don’t have dental insurance. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, roughly 23%, or 74 million Americans, have no dental coverage. Maybe yours is a fee for service practice and you don’t accept a patient’s insurance. These are just two of the many reasons shared by our dental business coach that an increasing number of dental practices are adopting their own in-office dental plans as an alternative.

What is an In-Office Dental Plan?
In-office dental plans are designed to help patients afford preventive and restorative dental care. Patients pay a monthly or annual fee directly to the practice to help pay for treatment when it’s needed. An in-office dental plan is administered directly by the practice or contracted partner, making it unnecessary to submit insurance claims.

Benefits of an In-Office Dental Plan
One of the main benefits of incorporating an in-office dental plan is that it can be customized for your practice. Offering different plans or membership tiers can help make dental care affordable and financially convenient for patients and make cash flow more consistent for the practice.

Other Considerations for In-Office Dental Plans

It is important to verify your specific state’s laws and statutes before implementing an in-office membership plan. Our expert dental consultants can guide you through the process and ensure that your plan follows your state’s guidelines while offering your patients an affordable way to say yes to the treatment you recommend.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Coach’s Corner | Team Retention

One of the recurring themes I heard in 2021 was the struggle to find team members. Sadly, I do not think those struggles are going to be going away anytime soon in 2022. For those of you who have participated in my Coach’s Corner for a while, you know I do not view the world from a negative perspective. I choose to view things from a positive standpoint which is why I will use this month’s Coach’s Corner to discuss how to retain your team. 

Let me back up for a moment and say there is a huge difference between having employees and having a true team work with you.  I define employees as a group of people that work for an organization.  They may have a goal to accomplish but do not understand how their role and responsibility is related to the rest of the company. Employees will complete tasks that are assigned to them but will not care how that relates to anything else in the organization. They just want to check off their to-do list. 

Contrast that, with what I believe, a dental team should be. A dental practice team is a group of people working together cohesively towards the clearly defined and stated goals of the doctor. There is a very high level of patient satisfaction while knowing that all members of the team are accountable to each other using their individual strengths to enhance the performance of the team. A team will sacrifice for each other. As the doctor, you will not have to ask someone to take care of something, it will already be done. A team takes responsibility for their individual actions and are accountable to one another and the doctor. 

The doctor, whether they want to or not, is the leader of the team. Your leadership plan will dictate how your team will accomplish the goals you have set for your practice. The problem arises when the doctor does not have a clear plan or no plan at all. It is impossible for a true team to work together and accomplish goals if there is not clarity and understanding on how they are to do it. That is what your leadership plan is about. 

I have worked with hundreds of practices across the country and that is the number one thing most practices are missing. The most basic is your mission which brings everyone together on the same page. Next, your leadership plan, or as I like to call it your gameplan, is paramount to getting your team to work as a team – that is foundational to your practice. There are many segments that need to be present in your gameplan. The next segment is your vision. I have a unique way of putting that together in such detail it will become a part of your business plan. Your culture is the next segment that needs to be addressed. In a nutshell, I define culture as what is or is not acceptable. 

As you can see, your gameplan needs to be set up in a particular way, just like you would set up for a dental procedure in a particular manner. I make analogies all the time about how a process is needed for clinical work as much as process is needed to lead your team. Discipline is needed for both. The difference is one you have studied for many years in dental school and the other, leadership, requires you to learn to make your practice successful. Leadership is even more challenging since you are working with people or human behavior.  

You can see why having all of these critical segments in your leadership gameplan is a necessity. By spending the appropriate time in creating your leadership gameplan, this will help you not only retain the team members you currently have but will also help you hire the correct team members with the appropriate skill set.  

I know from working with my clients that the struggle is real right now. Let me help you by organizing your leadership gameplan. You can reach me either on my website, www.victorydentalmanagement.com or email  lynne@victorydentalmanagement.com 

Common Characteristics of High Performing Teams | Dental Team Coaching

Dental Business Coach

Teamwork makes the dream work, or so the saying goes. With a team of rockstars behind you, your business can truly soar into the success that you envisioned when you first started your own company. However, creating that amazing team can be more difficult than you may have thought. Even if you have the right people, there may be something that is holding them back from reaching their full potential. Look at this list of common characteristics of high performing teams. Which ones are your team performing well on? Which do they lack? By comparing this list to your own, it may just give you the insight you need to reach the next step.

No Individual Member is More Important than the Team:

In any business, there are going to be some members of the team that are in positions of power. However, this should not make them more or less important than any other member on the team. When your team knows that they are all equals working to accomplish the same goal of success for your business, it can help create a team that relies on the necessary people to get the job accomplished.

Each Person Carries Their Own Weight:

It’s important for every team member to be performing optimally in their own role. When one person is falling behind, the rest of your team can struggle to pick up the slack while maintaining their own work. Ultimately, what this characteristic boils down to is mutual respect. If you have a team that respects each other, they’ll be working to ensure everyone has what they need in order to do their job as best they can. Without that respect, it’s likely that people will be performing the bare minimum in their role. Our dental management consultant can help each member of your team reach their full potential.

Trust:

As important as mutual respect is the level of trust your employees have in each other. When you have a team that trusts one another, it allows for strong cohesion, conflict management and natural agreement when issues arise. Cohesion built upon trust means that every member of your staff is working towards the same goals, knows how to work together, and can make the right judgement calls when problems arise.

Understanding Limitations:

Some of the best teams know when it’s time to ask for outside help. Whether it’s a task that your team may not have the experience or knowledge to fully complete, or the workload seems to be simply more than they can handle, outside assistance or perspectives are nothing to be ashamed about and can help your team succeed at a higher level.

If you and your team require help with any of the functions of your business, our consultants are here to help. Whether you need improvements in your systems, organization, team cohesion, or anything else, we can provide you with the help you need to succeed at a higher level. Call or contact our dental business coach today to get started. 

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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The Power of Feedback in Improving Workplace Performance | Dental Management Consultant

Dental Business Coach

The exchange of feedback between leaders and their teams is an almost non-stop process. Official, or not, good leaders are as willing to listen to feedback as they are giving it out. Feedback is one of the most important aspects of improving performance, and yet it can be one of the most difficult things to hear. Very few people enjoy viewing themselves in a critical light. Below, our dental management consultant will outline some of the best ways to not only get constructive feedback, but also how to handle feedback for optimal benefit when it comes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It:

People will often assume that if something is wrong, they’ll be told and corrected. While in a perfect world, this may be the case, it is unfortunately not the reality. When you directly ask for feedback, you give your employees and your leaders the opportunity to give you valuable insights into the operations of your business. Without asking, you may be missing out on mistakes being made, or innovations that have changed business for the better.

Even if this feedback is not received in an official setting (such as a brief “on the fly” direction) it can give you the ability to bolster your systems and improve business. Make sure you ask for that chance as frequently as possible.

Don’t just React – Listen and Digest:

When feedback comes to us, it can sometimes be difficult to not feel personally attacked – especially if the feedback is critical. The worst thing you can do in this type of situation, would be to react without really considering what the other person is saying. Make sure you hear what them out and think about why they feel the way they do.

Do your best to stay clear headed and ask clarifying questions to help you fully understand the other person’s view point. Sometimes, the most positive and helpful feedback can be misinterpreted and turned into a destructive situation. If you need to take the time to digest, think about asking for time to do so. It never hurts to come back and be able to discuss feedback in more detail and from a different perspective. Taking whatever space and time you need will ultimately help you deal with feedback in a more constructive way and help you to understand your business and your leadership style better.

Reflection is a Form of Feedback:

A conversation with a manager or employee is not the only way to get feedback. You can also learn a lot about your strengths and potential limitations by reviewing the successes and failures you have had in your position. Is the same failure happening over and over again? It may be time to figure out the root cause of the issue and create a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Criticism, constructive or not, can be difficult to hear. Ultimately however, that brief time of difficulty will turn in to large dividends for both you, your team, and the business as a whole. If you’re looking for constructive feedback from an outside perspective that can help your business grow, contact our dental business coach. We’ll be able to analyze your strengths and areas for improvement in order to help you bring your business to the next level.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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Data Security Best Practices | Dental Management Consultant

Dental Business Coach

Though most of the attacks making headlines are those aimed at large organizations or political groups, roughly a third of all data security breaches in the last few years have occurred in the health care industry. Of these, employee error caused three times as many breaches as external attacks. In addition, more than half of the businesses who experience a security breach have fewer than 1,000 employees.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all health care providers to take steps to protect the private information of their patients from hackers, thieves, and staff. While no data security system is foolproof, there are some best practices that can help to decrease your risk of an information breach, especially from employee error. Here are some of the best practices from our dental practice consultant you should be enforcing:

  • All computers should be placed where screens are not visible to patients or visitors.
  • Every computer should have an encrypted password for access.
  • All passwords should contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and/or symbols and should be changed regularly.
  • Passwords should never be written down in any place accessible by the public. It is preferable that they not be written down at all.
  • Every staff member must be fully educated about the importance of data security practices, their responsibility to follow these practices, and the potential repercussions for failing to comply.
  • Office computers and internet should not be used to check personal email or visit non-work-related websites.
  • Ensure all firewalls, software, and operating systems are kept up to date.
  • Wireless networks should be shielded from public view.
  • Every computer should have antivirus software installed and kept up to date.
  • Do not access office data remotely from a shared computer or unknown WiFi network.
  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops that have access to any work systems or emails should be password protected in case lost or stolen.
  • All hard copies of patient data should be shredded.
  • All transmitted data should be encrypted.
  • Sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial data, or other private information, should never be sent through email or instant messaging services.
  • Consider purchasing cyber insurance protection.
  • If a breach does occur, take appropriate action immediately. Contact your legal counsel for advice.

Your first and best defense against the theft of sensitive patient information is the integration of data security best practices into your practice policies. Meet with your team to discuss any changes you need to make and your expectations of compliance. Protect yourself, your team, and your patients by working to protect the integrity of your systems. Contact our dental business coach for more information.

Victory Dental Management
Phone: (804) 399-2053
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