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March 9th, 2022

Episode 146 – Motivate Your Dental Team by Actively Listening with Deni Hall

“With Active Listening I have to put my own agenda aside and listen to what they want and need. If I can do that, then I can motivate someone.” -Deni Hall

Ask yourself this: Do I understand my people at a level that is deeper than the surface? Am I judgemental when they do share what matters?

In the fall, we were talking to a doctor who was describing the struggles he had with rewarding this team. “I take my team on these amazing trips to Mexico and the Caribbean and all I hear while we’re there is ‘I wish I wasn’t here.’” That’s certainly not what you want to hear from your team after buying tickets, planning a trip, and giving everyone time off! 

So we asked him, “Well, have you asked your team what’s important to them?” There was a disconnect between what was important to the doctor and what is important to his team. 

Another doctor we work with in Germany asked his team what was important to them. They unanimously said electric bikes would make their commute to work easier. It had never entered his mind to offer that to them! So he set goals for his team, they met them, and he purchased electric bikes for everyone. 

We love to make your lives easier! Which is why we are so excited to continue the discussion on goal setting with Deni Hall, Director of Client Success at Productive Dentist Academy, as we take a look at how to use Active Listening to understand how to motivate your team, including: 

  • Adding emotion to goals
  • Using Active Listening to understand what your team really wants
  • Tips for getting your team into conversation (Hint: silence is your friend!)

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Regan
Welcome to the everyday practices Podcast. I’m Regan Robertson, and my co-host, Dr. Chad Johnson and I are on a mission to share the stories of everyday dentists who generate extraordinary results using practical proven methods you can take right into your own dental practice, if you’re ready to elevate patient care and produce results that are anything but ordinary, buckle up and listen in.

And, Deni, what are some ways that we can so there’s, there’s audio and there’s smell? What are some additional ways that you’ve known to kind of anchor in? And then how do you translate that to a team setting? So as a leader, you’ve got kind of your goals set up, and then for Chad’s case, you know, how do you translate that over into the team focus so that they too can anchor in?

Deni Hall
Well, I think you teach them these concepts. You know, I think that’s the most important part. I mean, what better gift could you give to someone than to teach them the concepts behind goal setting and why they work? That would be number one, I think number two, is that you know, what gets rewarded gets repeated. So if I set up some sort of a reward, and you’d be shocked how little it has to be, to get there, but some sort of a roar, it could be a team lunch, it could be, you know, a could be as large as a team trip. I remember, we were in the foundation’s class one time and someone said in the foundation’s class, I take my team on these amazing trips to Mexico and to the Caribbean, and all I hear while I’m there is I wish I wasn’t here and my comment to the doctor was well have you asked them? What’s important to them? Like, why would you know if the Caribbean isn’t important to them? You might need the goal by chance, but what’s important to them, and it might be different for every single person. But if it’s the week, I think the motivation? Go ahead, Chad?

Dr. Chad Johnson
No, you’re right, I was just agreeing that it would be different for everyone and that can be frustrating. But at the same time, you have to acknowledge it.

Deni Hall
I had a fun conversation with a doctor in Germany one day and I asked him, you know, how did you determine how you were he had gone to our foundations class and he called us because he was so excited. He finished the foundations class and he applied what he had learned and he came back to us and he said, I increase my business by threefold and now I have a different problem that I need to talk to you about. Because now he doesn’t have enough staff to handle threefold the business. But I said how did you motivate them? He said I asked them, he said, you know that transportation in Germany is a big issue and that the problem with it is that people don’t own cars and traffic has gotten very bad and people have to walk to work or run to work and he asked them what would make your life simpler and they said electric bikes, which had never entered his mind that an electric bike would motivate them and so he set individual goals for everybody on the team, those goals wrapped up into his overarching goal and what he said was 100% of the people met their goal, and he bought each of them an electric bike and he said I’ve never had a happier staff than this staff. Because I solved the problem for them. It wasn’t my wishes, or what I thought was important. It was what they determined was important. He said they parked bikes at the office if they were not going to use them. But other than that, they’ve got those bikes, and they can ride them all over town, and it makes their life so much easier. So I think setting goals is one thing, but the motivation to achieve has to be there as well.

Regan
And if I hear you correctly, you’re saying that motivation, going back to what you said earlier was adding emotion to those goals, helps kind of put that foundation in that keeps them going and driving and moving forward towards that goal. So this real sort of transfers into active listening, which we want to do a special two-part episode on for your time together because you have to really be a great listener to understand what goals are important to your team. So you have to really understand that before going into the reward sequence. Right?

Deni Hall
Absolutely. You know, I have to be able to ask the right questions that get the right get my people to be talking to me about the things that are important to them. I can remember once, I was always bringing gift cards into my offices when I had several offices that I was supervising and I would just, you know when I saw someone doing something, right, doing the One Minute Manager thing, I’d see them doing something, right and I’d hand them a gift card and I didn’t always get the results that I thought I was going to get from them. So one day, I had the I had I got all of my dental assistants together, I put them in one room and I said, Okay, well, let’s talk about this. You know, what, what can I give you that would be meaningful to you know, what’s meaningful to me and it was amazing over-arcing, it was about a 95% to 5% vote, that what they really wanted was a grocery store gift card and I kept giving them Kohl’s or I’d give them you know, a Costco gift. I gave them all kinds of gift cards, but it was never about groceries and when I asked them, why that was important to them, it brought me clear all the way back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that what they really needed to do was to be able to feed their families and that was what was important to them and from then on, I always had, you know, a grocery store gift card that I would give out and I think that’s the part of activating listening, I have to put my own agenda aside and I have to listen to what they want and what they need and that’s the most important piece and if I, if I will do that, I can motivate someone and if I break motivation, I have a definition for motivation, and motivation equals intermittent recognition, for achievement and if I set the goal, that gives me the opportunity to give my people intermittent recognition for achievement. So as they’re on the way to the big kahuna, they’re taking small steps to make it towards the big goal, I get these opportunities to recognize that achievement and if I continue to focus on recognizing that achievement, I drive my people to high motivation and what I end up with in the end is a high-performing team that doesn’t miss their goals, that wants to be at work that loves being with people who are high performing. So it all ties together the active listening, the goal setting, being able to plan those goals out and be able to tie it all back in together with a little bit of motivation.

Regan
Any it takes a lot, I think to get people to trust any leader and just kind of admit, because like what really matters to them. I know that that means being in a relationship, as Bruce would say, you know, always staying in the relationship and knowing that person, are there any tips that you can give? Because on the outset, it’s you know, what do you want for appreciation? And the answer may be Oh, nothing or you know, I don’t know if I really want to share with you what’s really important. How do you get them into a conversation so that they can really reveal what truly does matter? To them? What would be really appreciated?

Deni Hall
Well, this is definitely where the action the where the active listening comes in. Because you have to ask the right question and you have to say to someone, it might be a question like, for instance, you know, I’ve noticed when I bring in gift cards, you guys are appreciative and I love that. But I don’t always see it in your eyes and I don’t always see it in your heart that I’m doing the right thing. Can you tell me what the right thing is? And you leave that you let the silence do the heavy lifting, you just let it be silent for a minute, and then you allow that group to think about it for a moment. The first answer that comes out of their mouth is probably not going to be the true answer and your job as an active listener, is to listen to what they just said and then dive a little deeper, you know, ask a follow-up question. Continue to ask them, you know what’s really important to you. Because my job here is to make you happy and satisfied with your job and part of that job means motivation and if I’m not doing the right thing, I hope you will come to me and tell me what’s important to you and I think you said it really clearly Regan is that it’s about the relationship I’ve built with my people. Do I understand my people at a level that is deeper than the surface? And am I judgmental when I do hear what they’re saying? You know, for me, a grocery store gift card wouldn’t be that exciting. I’d probably rather have a massage. But to them that boring concept. If I gave them a massage gift card doesn’t mean a bit to them. It won’t motivate them to higher performance. But if I gave them a grocery store card because that’s where they’re at, if I’m meeting them where they’re at, the grocery store cards will motivate them to higher performance and so it all really starts with that activity. listening skill of how do I actually listen to my people,

Dr. Chad Johnson
you know what else is interesting about that is, is a grocery cart is fungible. Now all of a sudden, they can use that money for whatever they want, which actually might be more fun or important to them, but they, you know, they have to buy groceries, but they’ll, you know, they’ll buy the massage for themselves, if they have enough money or something like that, or they’ll buy the massage, and then put themselves in jeopardy of being able to buy the groceries, right, we all have wants and needs that are in battle, but you buy them the staple, and then all of a sudden that transfers into money that they’ll certainly be able to use towards that, that now they’re there. They have to money becomes elective money.

Deni Hall
Oh, my gosh, she said that. So well. I can remember I had a, I had a GA once and I did, she had done something really extraordinary and really out of the realm of what was expected of her and I handed her $100 Grocery card and her response to me was, you have no idea how this impacted my family because we have no money for groceries this month and when you talk about adding emotion, to goal setting, here’s where the rubber meets the road. Like the emotion, I bawled my eyes out, she was crying, and together, I was just like, the appreciation was like flowing out of me like crazy. But when it’s right, you’ll feel that connection with your people and that’s the most amazing feeling of all.

Regan
How would you recommend this in this type of conversation, I’m putting Chad on the chopping block because I just love to do that. I know, for I know, for me, I mean, I know for me with it with my team in particular, like getting to know them and what’s really important to them, like in their life, you know, term goals. So we’re not in a dental practice. In fact, we work remotely together with each other. So there’s, you know, a little bit of wiggle room, you know, with their goals, they may be a little bit different than an in-office setting, but what would you recommend? What type of format like even so Chad’s gonna go in and talk to his team and have one of these conversations? Is it? How do you scrape past that surface? You kind of touched on it a little bit, like you said, make sure you stay in the conversation with them and dig a little bit deeper? Is it just as simple as that? You’re just saying, you know, tell me more and then let the silence go? Are there other tips on how he can practice it and kind of get have a higher chance of success at getting to that deeper level of conversation?

Deni Hall
I think it kind of goes back to a Kaizen principle about you know, continuous improvement. It’s really about five why’s but I don’t ask why questions, because why questions, put people on the defense. But I’m thinking that in the back of my mind that I probably have to go down three to five levels before I’m going to get the real answer and so I have to hold myself in the position of being very uncomfortable of asking kind of these, what might feel like drilling questions to someone else, to really get to their why? Because they’re not going to tell you the first time out because it’s embarrassing for them or because they think you might judge them. There’s a whole lot of stuff that goes on in the head that actually stops them from actually telling you that the more you sit there for a minute, and you listen to what they just said, and you respond to what they just said and you hold yourself accountable for sticking in the conversation long enough, you will get to their why. Just like we talked about in everything that PDA talks about, you know, the why is where it’s at. You know, and it was I use I have an I have someone who reports to me that is really struggling with daycare right now and I tell you I woke up at night going I have to figure out something that will help motivate him. This is something that’s on his mind all day long and it’s a struggle, but I have to be paying attention every minute. Regan, it can’t be me just once in a while deciding I’m going to listen because all of the clues come from a lot of different places. They don’t come from my conversation necessarily with that person. But they come from other conversations and so it’s total attention to that. About do I really care about my people? And do I want to motivate them to be the highest performing team that I can? Or am I just gonna, you know, put a bandaid on it and move through it.

Regan
Chad how does that compare to your week in practice? How much time do you think you dedicate towards each like connecting with each team member each

Dr. Chad Johnson
week? Oh, hardly. But I mean, you know, like when we talk about About this, I get, I get the idea of conceptually and then the pragmatic answer, like sometimes I just go, man, there’s just also a disconnect of through the week, how many voices are competing for my attention verbally or not? emails, texts, patients, employees, patients, family members, you know, the stuff getting sent out and stuff coming in the lab that you know, and so, you know, just saying, hey, why don’t you take a special moment for an employee? It’s just like, man, yeah, that, that’d be neat. But I, so the trouble is, you get done with a week and you go, how many special moments did you have? And it’s just like, three, I yell, and they’re like, what were the three? Okay, zero?

Regan
Well, I asked, I asked you, and I thank you for sharing because that has been one of one area where I will fail is when I don’t a lot that time and it’s because I think I’m serving the higher good of the company towards the goals that I’ve defined. So I think I’m going going going the team is fine. The team is fine. They don’t you know, why did they don’t need me, that’s what I think they’re fine. They don’t need me. But if I fail to check-in if I fail to take a temperature even to understand where their why may be coming from it, we suffer, like suffer jointly as a group, we suffer and I think that that has been a huge lesson for me, in my own leadership journey, is I know, we talk a lot chat about slowing down and backing up and going back to basics, but I think it’s something that I don’t think we do plan really out in the forecast. How many connections are we gonna make with our team? And how many team members do you have Chad?

Dr. Chad Johnson
You know, are 13 Oh, okay. Yeah, so

Regan
you and I kind of have a similar balance of people that we will be engaging with and talking with throughout the year. So

Dr. Chad Johnson
so as a guy, I mean, you listen, half of the dentists right now, age, probably about 50 and under are female, and half of them are male and even though that historically was different, a lot of schools, you know, these days, it’s 5050 and so, I call me, you know, gender bias on this, but I think guys might have a difficult time with this, I’m not going to say always, but you know, like, I’m one of them that prototype might find it tougher to connect with female employees and acknowledging that difference there, there is kind of a difference in how I can connect. Now you can overcome that. But I’m just saying inherently, there’s a there is a communication barrier that comes to both ways, you know, from the employee to you and from you to them and so I don’t know what you’d call that societally, socially, you know, whatever. That also becomes a challenge. You know,

Regan
I think I think regardless of gender, I see that though, and I totally acknowledge that completely. I think, either way, it can happen either way. That it can be a challenge and I mean, I guess editorially speaking, I’ve heard, I’ve also heard female dentists have that problem with communication. But by and large, I tend to hear the males, they like they will say that they have the hardest time kind of connecting like that and Denny, my question is for you, I’m going to take it, I’m going to take it the strategy of it’s like a bike, and you just have to get on and you have to write it, and you have to practice it and fall over a few times. I like, I’ve never asked this on a podcast before ever, but Well, how would you coach us, Denny? Because I know that it works and I know that you’ve coached myself, you know, like our leadership team on it. So I know that it really does work and how would we work that in? So we’ve got 13 team members each? Do we schedule like once a week with everybody and try to get to that? Is it is it necessary? Is that a once a month like what should we do?

Deni Hall
You know, I love that because it circles all the way back to the beginning of the conversation where we were talking about planning and goal setting. So if I plan it in my schedule, or for me, I don’t necessarily plan it but I think about my people at the beginning of the day and I jot their names down at the top of my calendar, and as I have five or 10 minutes I just call them up because we’re very remote so a lot more difficult because I’m not in the office with them but if I heard something on a big conference call or I heard something during a huddle that I thought you know what, I can connect with them on that I jotted in my calendar and I’m telling you if you don’t keep a calendar of these kinds of things, you know you miss the opportunities but I Just jot it in my calendar. I have trouble connecting with one person on my team because she’s busy. I’m busy. We just don’t connect and one of the things that she does is she exercises a lot and so this week, I said, you know, what, could you be my exercise coach? Could you hold me accountable and get me into a disciplined routine about exercise. So we go, Well, that doesn’t have anything to do with work. But I can tell you our call today was highly connective. He was doing what she knows how to do and she was helping me and I made the time for her, it was only 15 minutes. But I put it on my calendar so that her name was at the top, but on Sunday afternoons, I sit down, and I write the number of the people that I really want to connect with on a deep level and it’s not everybody on my team, because that can’t, you know, that can’t happen. But I would say that just picking two or three or four of your people, and maybe 10% or 12% of your people each week to really connect with is critical. So, you know, it’s about planning, is it important to you that your people are high performers? Are you struggling with turnover? If you’re struggling with those things, then this has to be a high priority for you, you put it on your calendar, and you go, I’m going to connect with these three people this week and I’m going to have a conversation with them and I’m really going to listen, I’m going to have eye contact with them. I’m going to be it’s going to be important to me.

Dr. Chad Johnson
Yeah, what I hear is, calendar saves the day, Google calendar for the win, put it into your calendar and if I had to modify that for dentists, when, because why one thing that I’m thinking is, oh, when I have a free five minutes, that’s not during your clinical day. So scheduling that into your clinical day, is going to be setting yourself up for failure, in my opinion, if other people can make that work good for them. But I’m just saying, if when I hear how can I make this happen, it’s not going to be me putting it in at 11 am on any given day weekday, because I’m not going to have an extra five minutes. So it needs to be when I’m done and that reminds me, you know, on my calendar each Thursday night, I have down, you know, call and text patients check in from this week and it’s a dedicated time to be like, oh, yeah, you know, it actually makes me stumble across it and be like, oh, yeah, I need to write them. I can’t leave a Thursday night already. But to do the same. I used to until I was busy, you know, with a couple of new practices and stuff like that I have on my schedule, where once a week rotating, I had a one on one lunch with each employee and we did that until we were working three offices, and that just wasn’t going to work. So that’s right, I

Regan
forgot about that. But I remembered that that was a big goal of yours was to have lunches with everyone connect and spend time with a big agenda

Dr. Chad Johnson
to maybe five minutes worth of agenda and then that or to you know, it wasn’t that big of an agenda on my part. But it was just to connect and relationships built. Yeah, yeah. That was the rest of it.

Regan
So can you put that back into your schedule? Again?

Dr. Chad Johnson
I think by April, we’ll be able to do that a lot better. Yep.

Regan
I love that idea.

Dr. Chad Johnson
I’m not that far out. We’re reconstructing our meeting schedule, and everything like that and I foresee us being able to make that work better. Yeah,

Regan
yeah, I’m gonna piggyback on that one. I’m gonna like, I’m gonna join that. I think that’s a great goal. Thanks, Deni.

Deni Hall
Lately, you know, I do think it is, you know, in me, and I don’t schedule it on my schedule, but it’s at the top of the page on my calendar, and every day I look at it, just like the goal. You know, I see it every day and I go where, where can I find an opportunity to do that? Like, what’s important to that person? How can I connect with them on a different level? So just seeing it on your calendar doesn’t have to be in the calendar at a specific time, just their notes, you know, just their names jotted at the top of, of a paper or on a post-it notes on your desk or something where you see it frequently. Then your brain is out there surveying for opportunities to connect with them.

Regan
It’s really fantastic. What good information for our listeners as we head into the second month of 2022. Thank you, Deni for being our guest today. Chad, any other questions you have?

Dr. Chad Johnson
Yeah, I just have a closing story. You’ll get a kick out of this, Deni. All right. So talking about active listening and how putting a message out can have more impact than you ever realized. Are you ready?

Unknown Speaker
I’m ready. You probably aren’t.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So listen to this. This is crazy so the Tom Green show in the late 90s, okay it’s an MTV show and I’m trying to think if I was in high school or college at the time, but

Regan
because we’re the same age, you know, we’re on the cusp because I’ve watched it.

Dr. Chad Johnson
So he had his best buddy On the show Glen humped Nick, and they, they’re both Canadians and so there he’s shooting the show in New York City on Time Square and he puts up Glenn’s phone number, but he has the things like Vanna White flipped around backward and he says, Every time you don’t do what I tell you to do, I’m gonna flip this, you know, another number on your home, like your personal cell phone number, you know, and I’m gonna flip it over and if you don’t do what I tell you to do, or if you make me angry or something like that, Glenn, I’m going to flip the phone number over. Well, what he didn’t realize was, you know, they’re shooting the show over Time Square, the phone number was, was flipped over upside-down backward shooting out towards Time Square, so anyone in Time Square could look upside down. They saw the whole phone number before they had even flipped it. He was receiving 1000s of messages and so it’s just a silly start, but I just I always got a kick out of that that Tom Green on the next episode said, Well, we didn’t think that exactly through the best because now 1000s of people know Glenn’s phone number. Hey Glen, how many phone calls did you get last night he starts swearing him out and he’s like You jerk I can’t believe that’s what happened and but nonetheless it kind of loosely ties in as a funny closing story that you know, when when you put out a message or a goal how that can be you know how it can quickly take off your intention even more than you ever anticipated. There was no way that Tom Green anticipated to do that to his buddy that in one week you know he not even flipped over one number and it was going to show to the whole crowd so silly story but Tom Green show and this kind of reminded me somehow some weird way of that. So Reagan, did you ever watch that Tom Green show? No. particular one,

Regan
that particular episode, but yes. Oh my gosh, I was a huge Tom Green fan. I thought he was just such a great dork. It’s really funny. Right? We

Dr. Chad Johnson
get Tom Green on our show. Okay, let’s do it. Would that be a quagmire? Deni, thanks again for joining us today.

Deni Hall
Absolutely. Thank you for inviting me.

Regan
Thank you for listening to another episode of the Everyday Practices Podcast. Chad and I are here every week. Thanks to our community of listeners just like you and we’d love your help. It would mean the world if you can help spread the word by sharing this episode with a fellow dentist and leave us a review on iTunes or Spotify. Do you have an extraordinary story you’d like to share or feedback on how we can make this podcast even more awesome? Drop us an email at podcast@productivedentist.com and don’t forget to check out our other podcasts from Productive Dentist Academy at https://productivedentist.com/podcasts/the-productive-dentist-podcast/. See you next week.

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