Team Motivation and Accountability

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As coaches, office managers often ask us, “How do I motivate my employees and hold them accountable to their duties?”  Motivation and accountability are important leadership skills that are not taught in school, yet they are talents you can cultivate.  When team members are motivated and excited about their work, it’s easier to hold them accountable, and the whole mindset of the team is transformed.

Let’s examine motivating and inspiring employees first.  While we might think motivation is intuitive, there are some concepts that, when used, can create immeasurable results!

First off, let’s get one thing clear:  work IS about the money.  People work to support their families and lifestyle; money provides the avenue to do so.  While it may be true for some team members that taking care of patients fulfills them and inspires them, they also love achieving financial goals.  As Dan Pink outlines in his book Drive, pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

Once you have set up salaries and benefits that are competitive, here are four recommendations that should help create motivated employees who will be inspired to do great work:

  1. Allow people to control their work:  When team members have the ability to set goals, impact decisions and decide on tasks performed, they will be more interested in their work.
  2. Communicate important information:  When team members receive timely information, participate in team meetings and understand progress made on goals, they will be more motivated.
  3. Provide opportunities to grow: Training, coaching life skills, increased communication skills and team participation will help team members grow as people.
  4. Ask team members what motivates them:  A simple question of “What would motivate you to achieve these goals?” can elicit some surprising information.  Pay attention; everyone has different ideas of how they want to be motivated and knowing that information can be priceless.

Always give each employee personal time and attention, and acknowledge publicly a job well done, no matter how small.  And remember, the attitude of the office manager and doctor in the morning huddle can set the tone for the day – manage your state for maximum team performance.

Want to de-motivate your team?  Simple:  keep negative and non-performing people on the team.  When you let non-performers go, the rest of the team respects you more and is motivated to perform.  Keeping those folks on the team is demoralizing and brings about negativity.

Once you have created a motivated team, take a look at team accountability. I am consistently finding office managers who are frustrated with team members not stepping up or committing to projects that remain incomplete.  This creates undue stress and distraction for the leadership of the practice – both office manager and doctor – who must be focused on running a successful business and performing great dentistry!

We recommend each practice implements the system of “Sourcing and Accountability.”  No matter what kind of dental practice you manage, there are three main Departments:  Administrative, Clinical, and Hygiene.  These are the departments that must have department heads or “Source” people.  In addition, each dental office has three “Accelerators”:  Hygiene Reactivation, Patient Reactivation and Marketing.

The Source for each Department and Accelerator do not have to do all the work in this area. Rather, they are the ones who are accountable for getting the work completed.  Perhaps they delegate some of the work to another person and then follow up.  The idea is that the office manager or doctor has one person to check in with regarding that department.

Implementing Source people within your team can help alleviate stress, create greater accountability, and foster a feeling of ownership among the staff.  Individuals want to know that they are making a difference and are valuable members of a team.  Additionally, as an office manager, you will grow stronger as a leader by encouraging team members to achieve their very best.

Here are the steps to Team Accountability:

  1. Set the goal or outcome with the Source person
  2. Create a plan in writing with a “By When” or completion date
  3. The Source person declares what they will do and makes requests to others
  4. Monitor the results by asking, “Are we achieving our outcome?”
  5. The Office Manager coaches the team member to the result by asking “What is working?” and acknowledges them; then ask “What is not working and how can I support you?”

 

The office manager must continue to hold the team member accountable to their commitments by having weekly (or sometimes daily) check-ins.  As the office manager, you must let go of performing all of the day-to-day activities.  Your job is to serve the team members and make sure they understand the outcome and what is expected.  This type of “Servant Leadership” is one of the best ways to become a stronger leader.  While this may be a paradigm shift in thinking, we have found that it is very successful!

For a complementary copy of the Sourcing and Accountability system, please email me at Erickapral@fortunemgmt.com and I will send it to you.

Consistently checking in with your team members is key for motivation and accountability, which leads to success in all areas of the practice.  I have found strong communication skills can increase the level of teamwork, motivate leaders on your team and make an office manager go from good to great!

By Kim McGuire, CPCC & Executive Coach for Fortune Management

A Foundation That Lasts

By | Dentistry Success

A struggling contractor found himself in a bit of bind when the housing market took a turn for the worse. It was difficult to find work and he was slowly approaching bankruptcy. One day, a very wealthy man learned of his troubles and asked if he would build him a new home. He wanted a luxurious, multi-level, 5,000 square foot home with all of the best materials. The contractor was ecstatic and began construction immediately. He knew that the man would never know the difference in materials, and by using a lesser quality, he could increase his profits. He could also cut a few corners and increase his personal profits even more. After all, this man was certainly wealthier than the contractor who was barely getting by. Shortly after the home was finished, the contractor delivered the keys to the man as promised. The man looked at the contractor and said, “You know, I already have a very nice home. I don’t really need a new one. Why don’t you keep it?”

Integrity is Key

As simple as it seems, the right decision often hides itself deep within a cloud of justification. The fact is, circumstances do occur, and it becomes increasingly difficult to see through the cloud when faced with adversity. The foundation upon which our values rest can occasionally become unstable ground. There is, however, one value that must never be compromised: integrity. Integrity in your relationships, both personal and professional. Integrity in your clinical skill. Integrity, or lack thereof, exists in virtually every aspect of our lives. Shortly after the contractor moved into the home, the paint on the walls began to crack. The foundation began to sink and become unstable. Doors wouldn’t close properly and the ceiling began to leak. He soon discovered that it would cost nearly as much to fix everything that was wrong with the house as it did to build it. You see, integrity cannot be eluded. We can’t avoid the inevitable. Every action carries with it a consequence, and we are accountable for every action.

Being a person of integrity is often very difficult, but it is the difficulty that makes it such an admirable quality. It is adversity that strengthens character. Integrity does not require third party perspective because it is your truth that is at stake. It is that which you stand on: your foundation that ensures the walls around you maintain their integrity. It is your integrity that attracts and inspires integrity in your team, in your patients, in your colleagues. One small compromise makes us susceptible to another, and another, and another.  Before long, we’ve lost way, and the fog that surrounds us makes it extremely difficult to see our way. Like the contractor, it is much more costly to repair the result of compromise than it is to sacrifice immediate gratification for a lifelong reward: becoming a person of relentless integrity. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you”. Reinforce your foundation for life with integrity and your foundation will reinforce whatever rests upon it.

Beliefs and Limiting Beliefs

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(An excerpt taken from our Fortune Management book How to Create your Ideal Practice)

By Dr. Paul Bass

“Fortune has helped me transform my practice from a small, disorganized but busy practice into a large, efficient, organized, fun, and happy practice. The people I work with (staff) are very much my friends as well as a top-notch, dedicated team.”

—DR. SCOTT BARNETT, Pell City, Alabama

Because of the profound and controlling effects they have on virtually all outcomes that manifest in our lives, beliefs must be included in any review of the methods and personal technologies offered by Fortune Management. Whether conscious or unconscious, our beliefs are paramount in determining what shows up and/or does not show up in our day-to-day lives.

A powerful example can be found in certain indigenous tribes in Australia. The belief is simply that one can be killed by an animal bone imbued with mystical powers. To this day, Aboriginal tribesmen will “point the bone” at an enemy — just pointing, no physical contact — with certainty that the enemy will be dead within four days. Within twenty-four hours of being ritually cursed this way, victims develop flu-like symptoms. Within forty-eight hours, they become severely dehydrated, and within four days, they are usually dead.

What kills them? The bone? Or the belief that the bone had the power to take away life? In a tribe with a collective consciousness of the power of “pointing the bone,” the belief alone will consistently lead to the victim’s demise. If the power of belief is sufficient to take away life, one should never underestimate this power’s absolute influence on far less complex issues, such as specific results that do or do not show up in the management arena of health-care practices.

We all have a mixed bag of beliefs. Some are empowering, and some are disempowering or limiting. I am reminded of one participant in three consecutive seminars who very congruently declared that she would leave the seminar and purchase a winning lottery ticket. The first time she returned with her winnings, the rest of us were amazed. The second time, we were stunned. The third time, we realized that we had stumbled upon profound truth. The interesting thing about life is that most people who stumble over profound truth will simply get back up, brush themselves off, and walk away as if nothing actually happened. (Of course, you’ve never done this, have you?)

On the disempowering side, I know that any practice management coach could list numerous limiting beliefs that are commonly uttered by doctors and staff members, with no idea how much of their self-limiting mindset is being revealed, such as:

“There aren’t enough new patients to go around . . .”  “Patients don’t really care about their health . . .”  “I’ll die with a hand piece in my hand . . .” 
“You can’t practice with excellent quality and do big numbers . . .”  “Hygiene is just a necessary evil, not a profit center . . .”  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

By recognizing limiting beliefs, we create an opportunity to crush them. The most effective way to do so is to have an experience that violates your limiting beliefs. This can be done internally or externally.

An internal (personally experienced) example would be to change a system in the office, and then monitor that system, and thus create a new, empowering belief based on the new result. For example, a practice could increase its hygiene effectiveness rate through a proactive hygiene reactivation game plan. When it goes from thirty percent effectiveness to sixty percent effectiveness, the resulting increase in hygiene revenue and referrals to the operative department are undeniable! Obviously, a new belief can be created this way, and when effectiveness jumps to eighty or ninety percent, the new belief reflects the polar opposite of the old limiting belief.

External (observed evidence) examples can also be extremely influential. Let’s say a dental team visits a colleague’s office where the daily operations consistently demonstrate results that blow all the old, standard limiting beliefs totally out of the water. This can radically alter that team’s view of how dentistry can be practiced.

Knowing how powerful this can be, I once asked a client, Dr. Shellhouse in Ohio, to create an opportunity for other dental teams to visit his practice and see Fortune’s concepts in action. The doctor and his team created The Dayton Dental Academy for one purpose and one purpose only. That purpose was to crush limiting beliefs about what is or is not possible. Virtually every dental team that has visited The Academy says that it was one of the most valuable days in the history of their practice.

In summary, one of the most important roles for any Fortune coach is to help others identify their limiting beliefs, and then assist them in creating rock-solid, totally grounded, and life-changing beliefs that will pay handsome dividends over and over again. By doing so, we help build legendary practices that will create legacies beyond the lifetime of any one dentist, and, in doing so, we transform countless lives. Perhaps more important, a transformed practice will provide better dentistry and will affect the health and well-being of thousands of patients.

 

Vison and Clear Goals

By | Dentistry Success

(An excerpt from our Fortune Management book: How to Build Your Ideal Practice)

“Everyone needs a coach, even the most successful professional athletes. Why? To remind us of the goals we have set and to open our eyes to new possibilities. Since becoming a member of the Fortune family, my practice has grown exponentially more than I ever could have imagined. Even more important, my vision of what is possible personally and professionally has expanded massively.”

—DR. NELSON DALY, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

When a college professor in Brazil approached him about participating in a first-of-its-kind photography course, Teco Barbero thought the idea was absurd. After all, Barbero was legally blind, just like all the other students invited to take the class.

But after taking the course, Barbero and his classmates understood that photography for the visually impaired was possible if they strengthened their other senses, and they also realized that any limitation on their potential was self-imposed. Today, Barbero — an accomplished journalist, photographer, and instructor — is described as a man who records images “with the vision of the soul.”

Make no mistake: a well-conceived, smartly executed vision can stir your soul.

What do you see when you close your eyes and think about the potential of your dental practice? Do you have a vision for the future? One that can make a difference in the health and lives of your patients? One that can change the dynamics of your office?

Unfortunately, many doctors limit their focus to more mundane concerns. Some talk about the need to increase productivity or hire more qualified employees. They complain about having to repeat instructions to staff and about dealing with interoffice gossip. The list can go on and on.

Unlike Barbero, these doctors are missing the big picture. They don’t have a clear vision for how to develop and grow a truly successful and inspired practice. Because of that, they become mired in day-to-day challenges, allowing those episodes to dominate the direction of their business.

One office with a vision statement had the statement displayed artfully in beautiful calligraphy, and it was hung prominently on the office wall. But when pressed about its meaning, most of the people in the office had forgotten the “vision” even existed — let alone what it meant. The framed words, like the magazines in the waiting room, had become part of the office décor instead of the philosophical and practical backbone of the business.

This office, like others that can’t see past the daily cloud cover that envelops their practice, had lost its way. Thankfully, it’s never too late to rediscover a path that leads to success.

Seeing is Believing

As coaches with Fortune Management, we regularly work with forward-thinking dentists who know they want something better for their patients and practice but who need practical support and advice in getting there. One of Fortune’s coaching workshops involves facilitating a discussion between doctor and staff that begins with the following question: If you had the perfect practice, what would it look like?

People respond to a vision. Generally speaking, everyone likes to know where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. But people also like to have their voices heard. That’s why we ask workshop participants to describe, in clear detail, what they believe the practice needs to thrive. Such involvement produces a sense of ownership; with that, the team has a personal stake in the vision to which they’ve contributed.

Doctors who successfully implement their vision don’t just live in the present; they determine what they want their practice — and their lives — to look like in one, three, five, even ten years. So we always ask our clients to address questions that speak to the five crucial engines that power their practice.

 

1) Sales and marketing: What will the patient base look like? How many patients will you serve? How will you reach them? What will you emphasize in your marketing/sales strategies?

2) Clinical/technology: Where will the practice be? What type of dentistry will you offer? What does your standard of care look like? What equipment will you use? How will you decorate your office spaces?

3) People: How many doctors will be involved in the practice? How many specialists? How will you treat your patients? How do you expect to be treated?

4) Finance: How much will you charge for your services? What’s your insurance strategy? What are your financial and collection policies?

5) Organization: What systems will you implement to ensure an efficient, effectively run practice? Who is in charge? Who is responsible for what?

A vision lives in the abstract — until, that is, you make it concrete. Think about the difference you want to make in this world and how you want to affect your community, your patients, your staff, and even your own family. Once you answer these questions, your vision will become that much clearer and you will be able to map a practical plan to realize it.

A Sight to Behold

One of the practices we serve has created a vision based on eliminating the divides in health care. This office, understanding that much of what goes on in the body can be diagnosed in the mouth, decided to focus on the connection between the worlds of dentistry and general medicine.

For instance, plaque on the teeth can indicate plaque in the heart, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. By partnering with medical doctors and delivering preventive insights, this practice altered perceptions and changed the direction of its “core story,” the context for what they do and who they do it for. Patients now come to this office expecting and receiving more thoughtful and comprehensive health care.

Along the way, the practice has created a stronger emotional connection between doctors, staff, and patients. Ultimately, that connection holds the key to a successful vision.

Most dentists and industry professionals tell us that they chose this line of work because they love the difference they can make in the lives of their patients. They love seeing patients smile: smiles that have benefited from the service and expertise available at their practice.

The practices with which we work also love the empowerment that comes from building on a solid foundation. They ask and answer all the right questions. They encourage staff participation and, in turn, they create staff commitment. They see their future, and they understand how best to get there.

We often find that the leaders in those practices return to their vision on a daily basis. They use this blueprint to align their thoughts, actions, and decisions. Is everything consistent with the big picture? If not, they adjust their mindset accordingly.

When something happens to throw a wrench into the day — an upset patient, frustrations over an insurance claim, personnel squabbles — they refer to the vision and ask themselves, What can we do right now to regain our focus?

Remember, an unused vision is worth nothing more than the paper on which it’s written. Let your vision be the driver of your success. If you can envision it, you can accomplish it.