A hot topic in dentistry right now is how do you discover your backbone as a leader. Says Dr. Nikki Green, “It had to start with me working on myself.” We’ve pulled one of our most popular episodes from the vault to give you timeless insights from a top-producing dentist about what to do when the wheels fall off of your leadership, and how to get them back on.
- Working on yourself as a leader
- Voicing goals to the team
- Mentoring team members to success
VICTORIA: I am so excited to be here with one of my most admired female clinicians, Dr. Nikki green from Fort Worth, Texas Nikki, how are you doing?
NIKKI: I am good. Vicki, how are you? I’m so excited to be here.
VICTORIA: I’m excited to be here too. Before we got started, we talked about the title of this being everyday practices bringing home the bacon, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun here with this. I can tell. We all want to do that. Right? That’s right. So Nikki, I know you through two ways. One, you’ve come through the Productive Dentist Academy. But also you’ve been a client of Gary takas for a long time. And you you are I want to say a preeminent sea junkie, like you actually because you actually digest what you learn. And I love that a lot. So Nik, if you don’t mind, I want to dive right in. Tell me I mean, I don’t even want to guess how much see you’ve had, like, masterships? How do you how do you quickly get team buy in and implement?
NIKKI: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I haven’t always been really good at it. You know, I mean, sometimes I go off and I get really excited about something and then I come back Monday morning, and then we’re back to the old grind. And it’s hard to get those things implemented. So you know, for me, it was actually if I was going to be the driving force behind all of that it actually meant me cutting out some restorative dentistry days, like you’re catching me today on an admin day.
And I’ve had Mondays as an admin bay for me for probably at least the last five years of my dental practice. And that was a big driver for why I had to do that. Because when you have to come back and you’re immediately back into the mouth, first thing Monday morning and you’re doing that four or five days a week, implementation was a lot harder.
CHAD: I think you and I were talking about that when we were in Scottsdale when I first met you that was about that time. And I remember asking, you know, so do you have to go back to work tomorrow morning, and you’re like, No, I think I’m sticking around another day and then I’ll be back and I was like, yeah, that’s really cool. So yeah, exactly. Yeah.
VICTORIA: I think one of your everyday practices if I had to observe you is to be curious. I think oh, I wake up in like, what am I gonna learn today?
NIKKI: For sure, curiosity and some sometimes it’s sometimes it’s a killer. In preparation this morning just for My Mondays I don’t know about you guys but his his other dentists do start putting in more admin time, for those of us who have grown up doing clinical dentistry four to five days a week, where you have a set schedule, you need to be here, and then you need to be here, admin days are very difficult for me. So I actually find myself having to do more preparation for my admin days than my clinical days, a lot of times, and, you know, my preparation this morning for an admin day, took me two and a half hours, you know, and, and in part of that’s my curiosity, you find it, you have to be a lot more disciplined in how you structure that.
CHAD: Way more discipline, right?
NIKKI: Yeah. Because my, my team disciplines me on the other days, right, they set the schedule, and I just go where they tell me to go for the most part. Whereas on my admin days, it’s all up to me to be productive. And it’s, it’s more difficult to measure the productivity, right. So you got to, you know, maybe implementation of a, something I learned to see, then I’ve got to set myself some landmarks, you know, that I want to achieve over the next few weeks.
VICTORIA: So tells the listeners, you know, what, why is why is doing well in business important to you as a person, not just, you know, like, talking strictly clinical stuff, but as the bigger picture with a family and whatnot. You know, so tell me more about that. Why in your, in regards to lifestyle is success important to you?
NIKKI: Sure. So I mean, I think it boils down initially to personal gratification, I mean, I just get a lot of personal satisfaction out of growing things, you know, whether it be my business, whether it be my son, whether it be my friend connections, my family connections, whatever that may be, I like to grow things. So and that’s been a big driver for me to grow my business.
And, you know, secondarily, it is just having accomplishments, you know, setting goals and achieving them. And I was doing some goal review, you know, just the other day of where I am for this year, and, and we’re on target, not over, you know, and I that, that gives me great satisfaction to know that we’ve accomplished that.
And then, you know, moreover, for my family, I, I have one son who’s 15, and I want to model success for him, you know, and I want to model and being productive and getting things accomplished. And I guess I’m maybe doing that, because he’s actually sitting next to me right now as I do this podcast, because because day to today is a school holiday.
So yeah, so that’s probably in that is probably the the bigger driving factor is, you know, I want to model success for him. I want to create experiences for him, we, you know, we’ve got a vacation plant that we’re talking about right now coming up in the summer that, you know, I want to be able to do those things. For him. I was raised by a farmer father and a nurse mother. And, you know, our biggest vacations was maybe, you know, getting in the car and hauling off to the mountains for an extended weekend. So I want to create experiences for my son that were a little different than what I had growing up.
CHAD: So let me ask you, Nikki, as a woman in dentistry, I kind of wanted to go down that path just for a minute, how does that work as a business owner? And what are those the strengths that you can more easily get to? And what are some of the weaknesses if you if you can think of any?
NIKKI: Sure. You know, I mean, I I don’t give that a whole ton of thought I probably did earlier in my career when, when you’re when you’re looking for excuses. Yes. You know, so maybe earlier in my career, when I was having team issues, and I still have team issues, don’t get me wrong, we still have things, you know, that are not perfect. The wheels do fall off from time to time, you know, but you know, maybe earlier on when I was having, you know, team engagement issues and such, you know, I would say I would look to my husband, who is also a dentist, remember, and he is a dentist and manages and operates a practice hundred 20 miles from me.
So I would nearly use the excuse. Well, it’s just easier for you because it’s easier for a bunch of women to work for a man than it is to work for a woman and I kind of use that excuse for a while. And then I realized that no, it was really not a sex related thing. It was just, I wasn’t being as good of a leader. Yes. And so it you know, it became necessary for me to work on myself. So I’ve spent a lot of time doing that. And I’m still I’m still a work in progress. Trust me, the wheels still fall off.
VICTORIA: So Nikki, I want to I want to dive into when the wheels fall off. If that’s okay, if that’s okay. You know, one thing that I see and it came up in PDA last weekend when we do the doctor’s breakout and the team or you know off without the doctors, and then you know I’ll meet up with the coaches in the hallway.
And I’ll say Hey Dr. so and so’s really ready to move the practice forward. But she’s afraid that her team is not on board with this and the coach will always 100% of time say oh my Gosh, the team is so on fire there, the doctor gets fired up. Alright. So I think you’ve probably seen that too. And you, you kind of tipped your head a little bit there and touched on it with the differences between you and Bob and your teams and that you just woke up one day and said, well, it’s none of these excuses. It’s that I need to be, you know, a better leader. And oftentimes, I’ll do a surgical implant into the spine of doctors, we replace their wishbone with a backbone. I’m just wondering, how did you discover your backbone as a leader?
NIKKI: That’s a really good question. It just like most things that came through heart experiences. So I can point back to a couple of specific experiences. One was you mentioned that Gary Takas has been my coach, and he has been my coach for many years. And even prior to me starting to utilize PDA, he was my coach. And he came in it’s been about nearly six years ago now. And he came in first and did some, just the personality training with me and my team, you know, so we dove into our personality types. And I know, this is hard for you to believe, Vicki. I’m a hard B.
And he, he had a really, you know, he said, he made a tough statement. And he said, You know, one of the biggest things that can destroy an organization is an immature B, and I started looking around the room to see who he was talking about. And then I looked at the plot chart on the wall, and I think I was the only B in the room, and I went, Oh, shoot, I think he’s talking to me.
And so I thought, Oh, I think I need to work on myself. So and so that kind of started the journey. You know, it started the journey into just, you know, buying books, I’m an avid reader and downloading books on you know, just how to be a better leader. And so I just started, you know, kind of diving into some of those things. And then I had a difficult time in my practice, when I thought that the answer to my next level of growth was going to be to bring in a partner.
And so I brought in a partner kind of sight unseen. And it just didn’t work, you know, as many dental partnerships do, particularly when you don’t do the proper amount of vetting. And so it just didn’t work. And after a year and a half of kind of suffering through that went through a really ugly partnership, divorce, you know.
And when I started through that process, again, Gary was still my coach at the time. And he said, you really need to work on your emotional intelligence. He said, that’s the only way you’re going to come out of this, you know, ahead. And so I did I really started working on my emotional intelligence. And I came out of it ahead, did I lose several hundred thousand dollars? Of course, I did.
But I did not lose a single team member. And, you know, I did not lose a single day of productivity, you know, I mean, you know, so and did not lose any patients, you know, so there was just a lot of good things that came out of it. But it had to start with me working on myself.
VICTORIA: Wow, I think you just saved a lot of people a couple hundred thousand bucks.
NIKKI: If I did it, if I did it, you can share my contact at the end of the show.
VICTORIA: And you know, that was that was my journey, too, because most of my role models for leadership were men. And so I thought, you know what, I’m going to be tough. I’m gonna, you know, I’ll just tell you what to do. People need structure, they need boundaries. It’s my show, they’re going to be happy to go. And I’m already Lordy, that wasn’t true. So you know, I put myself I think I spent like two or three weeks in Atlanta getting certificate certification and emotional intelligence, like reading the book was not enough for me.
You’re right. I had to be incarcerated for a couple weeks and interned and like, reprogrammed, because yeah, I just grew up a scrappy tomboy. Yeah, it wasn’t natural. And now people are like, Oh, you’re just so sweet and kind and like, ooh, really is. I’m getting I’m getting used to those words and more collaborative now. I don’t know. Like Mount St. Helens. Yeah. They used to call me Mount Saint Vicki.
NIKKI: My team haven’t shared with me what names they called me. But I’m sure at some point, you know, when it’s a little further removed a little further back in the memory banks, they’ll let me know what my name was. Yeah. So third quarter, was my biggest quarter ever and it was significantly higher than what I’d set my goals.
CHAD: I think it would help the listeners know though. What did you do for the third quarter that that made a difference? And I know it doesn’t mean just drill faster. But what what kind of goals Did you set with your team and how did you voice that and when What kind of incentives? Like what how did that work that you killed it in the third quarter just on your own volition?
NIKKI: Sure. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna reiterate a point that you make, it doesn’t mean drill faster, right. And I do know that a lot of times when people are first exposed to PDA, or hear just little bits of things about PDA, cuz I know this was my perception in the beginning to is we’re not all Bruce Bairds, you know, and I mean, we think that he just drills faster, well, he really doesn’t, if you go watch him in a day, he is just very strategic about his day.
And that if I’ve learned anything from PDA, that’s one of the big things that I have learned is about being strategic with my day, and scheduling my days to productivity. So that that has, you know, in my history of owning my practice, that has been the biggest contributor to increase productivity is just better and better and better scheduling. So anytime we have a job, I have to give better scheduling some credit. So So for this last quarter, you guys that specifically better scheduling is, is one thing I’m going to give credit to, and secondarily is I better focus on case acceptance.
So I have a new practice administrator in my practice, who let me give this advice to the listeners, hire someone outside of dentistry. And just tell them what you want and get them to help you. So I have I call her her title is my VP of sales and development, business development, and but I call her a lot of things. I call her my integrator. She’s also one of my very best friends. I call her my, I don’t know yet to bleep this out, but I call her my get shit done, girl. I call her a lot of things. That’s it. That’s it, that’s what she is.
So, um, but she has been instrumental this last quarter in really working with my admin team, because her background is in sales. So I’m talking about someone who actually came from the retail industry. And so she understands customer service, she understands sales, she understands, you know, talking to starting with a phone call, you know, to kind of get patients into a mindset of acceptance and making sure that we’re getting the right patients in the door. And so she is she’s worked really hand in hand with my admin team. And so I give really that pretty much all the credit for my last quarters. Success. That’s great. Yeah, it’s been awesome.
VICTORIA: That’s awesome. You said you also have a younger dentist in your practice.
NIKKI: I do. For anything endo, Bob comes in.
VICTORIA: So talk to me about how you mentor your associates, how you calibrate how you coordinate your treatment planning? So like the dentist and the teams aren’t confused? How does that any tips on that any practical everyday advice on that?
NIKKI: Sure, I’ll speak more to when I’ve done it incorrectly. So I have had several different associates, in my practice, they’ve all been wonderful. And really, I’ve had very little situations where an associate has failed, I really can’t really speak to that at all, I’ve had, you know, a wonderful associate that moved back to Minnesota to be a family. And but when I have, when I have had, what I would say is closer to failure with an associate would be when I did not do all the things that you just said.
So I just brought them in, and maybe let them you know, watch over my shoulder for a couple of days. And then I just started putting stuff on their schedule, you know, that the early always sets them up for failure, and, and then to just kind of unleashing them onto new patients as well. And that is one of the things that I think is really unique about our practice is we have a very unique new patient experience. And that was taught to us honestly through Gary, again, we give him a lot of credit today. But he taught us a very unique new patient experience. And not everyone understands that coming you know, you’re not taught that in dental school by any means.
And that was one of the places where I have set my associates up for failure before it’s just to, you know, let them start seeing, you know, any and all patients who I think just needs basic restorative work, just unleash them on those on those new patients. And that set the patient, the team member and associate dentists up for failure many times. So I’ve done my, my, my last couple of hires, I’ve done a little bit differently. I’ve had them go through and it did cost me money, but I’ve had them go through a pretty extensive mentoring relationship with the practice first.
So Dr. Omar, who’s in my practice, who does does exceptional dentistry on a lot of levels, but he’s the one that I was referring to that if I needed an endo on my upper second molar, I’d let him do it. He spent probably a matter of about six to eight weeks where he was doing very little clinical dentistry. So he was watching over my shoulder he was coming in on new patient exams. Having the luxury of two practices, we even sent him to Abilene to look over Bob’s shoulder, learn from Bob, watch him do new patient exams. And then we just spent a lot of time talking about those things. So as I was getting ready to treatment plan a case, he would sit right next to me.
And I would tell him why I was treating planning the way I was, you know, ask for his feedback. He has a different set of eyes. That’s one of the things I love about a multiple doctor practice is we get free second opinions all day long. So I would ask, you know, his input, what did he see? And so we did that for easily six or eight weeks. And what I even learned from that is even that wasn’t quite enough time. So my most recent doctor that I’ve hired, and Dr. Caitlin Flossie, and she’s brand new out of dental school, and I hired her on June 1, and let’s see, we, we are into nearly the second week of October.
And last week was the first week that I really had her productivity scheduled. So last week was the first and she had a day, it was first week of really doing much in the way of productivity. And she had her first scheduled to productivity day, which was awesome. And that she really went through nearly a four month, kind of an internship with me. And you know, I that was hard at first because it’s hard to find a doctor that’s willing to do that, because you know, I’m just giving them a base salary.
And I’m trying to explain to them, you know, the value of that mentorship and what they’re going to learn. And, of course, when you’re first coming out of school, that doesn’t seem very valuable. But we had a team retreat this weekend, and she pulled me aside and said, you just have no idea how much I appreciate the mentorship that you’ve provided me over the last four months, and I’m ready to go. And I truly believe she is she’s ready to go, you know.
So it but it takes, yeah, it’s what takes a special associate to you know, and I had to give her the compliment as well. Because, you know, for four months of just kind of being a tagalong. You know, that’s tough. But she has learned so much in those four months. So, so yeah, that’s how we’ve done it.
VICTORIA: That’s, that’s, I want to commend you on your commitment to your associates. Because, yes, it’s definitely it. You know, they say that knowledge without experience is philosophy. And I hear a lot of philosophy about how that is the right way to bring on an associate. But it’s always said in air court air quotes, like, in an ideal world, I would have them shadow me. Right. I really want to commend you for making that experience. Well, not just philosophical, right? You’re paving the way for others to know what’s possible.
NIKKI: Well thank you. You know, it’s not easy, because, you know, it is, you know, it is, you know, there’s going to be a cost associated with that there’s even an exhaustion level associated with that. I mean, let’s be honest.
CHAD: Were there any aspects of it like you videotaped, or you archive so that the next associate you bring on it would be even easier? Did you find any way?
NIKKI: I’m jotting that one down, Vicki, I like it. One of the things that she did I have to give her credit. So she as a learner, we’re big believers in Strength Finders, and she is a learner. That’s one of her top five strengths.
VICTORIA: Someone in the DSO world said You know, there are there problems that you just do it yourself. Because it’s pretty easy watching YouTube video, you got it, their problems that you’d pay others to get their advice, because it’s shortcuts and streamlines and then there are problems that you would pay any amount of money in the world just to make it go away. And mentoring young doctors kind of falls in that third category for most dentists, because they’re not natural mentors. They’re not they don’t have the skill sets of a teacher, they don’t have the skill sets of adult learning. And you do and you do.
NIKKI: Well, it’s gonna be a win win for both of us, you know, so I mean, I I don’t think that I did it self Leslie, I honestly think it’s gonna be a win win for both of us.
CHAD: Well, I appreciate you coming on the show and letting the listeners come in. You’ve been awfully transparent as well. And I appreciate you joining us on the show today.