Think Like a Doctor, Part 9: The What, Why, and How of Constructive Feedback

Uncategorized Dec 13, 2019

Staff members frequently use the term “I was NEVER told.”   Often, they were told in some form or another, but for some reason, it just wasn’t clear.  

Constructive feedback is focused information based on observations intended to help the person receiving the feedback.  In a Periodontal practice, the staff relies on the doctor's feedback to know how they’re doing and whether they are meeting the needs of the practitioner and patient.  They often take silence as a green light that all is well and there’s nothing left for them to improve upon or fix.   

Periodontists don’t always provide essential feedback for several reasons:

  • They don’t know how to give feedback.
  • They are too busy.
  • They’re not sure whether it will matter anyway. 
  • Doctors think on a different level than the staff.

But here’s the reality: giving feedback isn’t a nicety, it's an essential business...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 8: Are You Holding Your Staff Accountable?

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2019

In a recent blog post, I discussed the value of building loyalty with your team. Setting clear expectations and staying consistent will earn your staff’s respect and keep them committed to you.  

A big part of building loyalty comes from holding your team accountable. When even one staff member lacks accountability, it sets negative expectations for other employees that can upset the entire balance of your practice. 

Trust is a Two-Way Street

In Part 6 of this series, we talked about the importance of trusting your employees. However equally important is that your employees must also be able to trust you as a leader. They need to understand that you will stick to your core values and not be pushed around, or easily manipulated into bending your own rules.   

Employees aren’t oblivious to the effects that slackness or poor attitudes have on the practice. Unfortunately, many of them won’t speak up because they don’t think it will...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 7: How to Encourage Effective Internal Problem Solving

Uncategorized Nov 15, 2019

Most Periodontists agree that problem-solving and decision making are critical attributes for every employee in their practice.  Despite this, very few practice leaders train their staff on how to solve problems and make effective decisions. The problem is that training usually only involves the basic tasks themselves leaving out this crucial element. 

“But I thought you meant”

means only one thing:

“I didn't get it…” 

There are essential components to handling day to day operations, but most practice owners don’t prioritize important decision-making skills enough.  As we discussed in Part 4 of this series, staff will often come to you with problems because they don't have the confidence needed to handle them, aren’t sure about the outcome they need to achieve, and they fear the consequences of making a mistake.

Don’t tell them to simply handle it!...

The best thing you can do is give them a reason to follow...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 6: When to Start Trusting Your Staff

Uncategorized Nov 01, 2019

You don’t answer your own office phone or schedule appointments.  You don’t send appointment reminders or collection letters. This is exactly as it should be.  Your team handles everything including office, and auxiliary care-related tasks while you treat patients.  At some point, you’re going to have to trust them to make the right decisions, however, doing this too soon will likely cause your practice to go in the wrong direction. 

It’s hard to trust someone with important tasks or to make decisions when you see them make mistakes or do things differently from how you would do them yourself.  After all, your name is on the door, and it's your name that will be associated with both good, and poor outcomes, but the poor outcomes are detrimental to your livelihood. 

So, at what point do you need to turn over important business activities to your staff?  When do you let them start handling the problems that a...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 5: Delegate Authority, Not Just Tasks

Uncategorized Oct 18, 2019

Are you delegating authority in your Periodontal practice, or just work? 

There’s a big difference here that isn’t often discussed, but it’s critical to recognize why it matters which one you’re handing your employees and how they perceive it. 

If you want your staff to think more like you (which is the entire purpose of this 10-part series), then it’s essential to understand how they view their roles and responsibilities and whether it aligns with the way you want them to treat their roles and responsibilities.

Authority vs Tasks

The phrase “too many queens, not enough ants” usually gets a bad rap. It means there are too many leaders and not enough people to pull the weight and complete the chores.  Why would you need nine leaders to manage a staff of nine people? 

Or… Maybe you don’t have enough leaders. Without leadership, work gets done, but it’s a matter of simply just going...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 4: Establishing Value in Your Team

Uncategorized Oct 04, 2019

Throughout this series, we’re discussing how in order to get your staff to think more like you, you first need to think like them so you can tailor how you communicate their level of understanding. If you missed Parts 12, and 3, you can click on the numbers to catch up.

What do you find most valuable about your practice?  What do you think the patients and referring practices value?  Is the value of the care you provide enough?  Does it meet the goals and vision you had set out for or do you feel you are sometimes being held back from your potential?

The perceived value doesn’t always match the value we have within our own consciousness.

Here is why…

Peers directly influence your value system

Your perceptions of yourself, the patient’s perceptions of you, your referring doctors’ perceptions of you all impact your overall perceived value.

Often, your own perception of the other people around you can lead you to feel as if...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 3: Putting Context to Concept

Uncategorized Sep 20, 2019

In Parts 1 and 2 of our series, we focused on the importance of having a vision and getting your employees involved. But one of the biggest barriers standing between you and higher engagement from your employees is simply their understanding of the what and why of your vision.  

As I mentioned earlier, doctors and staff members think on totally different wavelengths. Your priorities and their priorities are very different, and that’s a problem when you’re trying to grow your practice, shape your brand, and achieve something greater than the sum of its parts. 

Putting context to your ideas and expectations can help avoid this altogether, but it takes some effort on your part to help them connect the right dots.

Context Creates Clarity

It’s logical to think that you can tell your employees what to do and they’ll do it. It’s part of their job, you’re paying them for it, so why would you need to do anything beyond telling them what to...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 2: How to Get Staff Involved in Shaping the Future of Your Practice


In Part 1 of this 10-part series, we talked about how many Periodontists make the mistake of asking staff for input in moving the practice forward. You might think of it as a way of spurring engagement and getting staff to feel at home in their role, but it actually has the opposite effect. 

Remember, once most dental staff learn their trade, they typically won't change how they do things. They fear change and learning new things because they don’t want to seem incompetent, and worry they won't have the training to achieve it.  They also think (and rightfully so) "Why would I want to fix something that doesn't seem broken and has gotten me by just fine for so many years?"

Asking an employee for their input when they haven’t gained many new insights into new technology and industry advancements in the last 10 years is a recipe for disaster.  In addition, you may be thinking they know what's best for them and since they are the ones using...

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Think Like a Doctor, Part 1: How to Share Your Vision to Improve Staff Engagement


As a periodontist, you have plans for your career. You have a vision of what you want your practice to look and function like. And, you expect your staff to roll along with your ideas and expectations (because that’s their job, right?). 

You probably know by now it’s not quite that easy. Your staff doesn’t think at the same level you do, nor can they read your mind. That’s why it’s essential to first think like your staff and connect with them on their level. You’ll have a much better chance of helping them to think the way you do if you can speak to their experiences in their language. 

In this 10-part series, we’re diving into how to get your staff to think like you so they can better serve your patients and provide the ongoing support you need from them. 

But before they can get on your level of thinking, they need to be tuned into their role, your expectations, and what exactly they’re working toward in the long...

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How Do You Build Loyalty with the Staff (and Do You Really Need To)?

I recently attended a class on leadership and the instructor presented me with a pretty powerful idea about how to build loyalty: 

“People will do anything for those that encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and throw rocks at their enemies.” 

Or, to put another way, people will do anything for those they are loyal to. 

So I want to know, what are you doing in your Periodontal practice to build loyalty with your staff? And perhaps more importantly, do you feel like you really need their loyalty? 

Let’s start with the latter and work our way backward.

Loyalty Should Be a Priority

Why do you need employee loyalty in the first place? Isn’t it enough that you gave your team members the job they have and keep them employed? The quick and easy answer is that loyalty is the key to long-term success. 

Loyal employees mean less turnover, higher productivity, and a more stable work...

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