Episode 74 – Empowering Your Team to Lead
“The number one thing that has made it easy for me as a leader, Is being super clear about what characteristics we as a team should embody.”
– Regan Robertson
Have you ever been frustrated with team members who hide out, forget simple tasks, or downright refuse to take accountability?
It comes down to this: how are you investing in the leadership of your team? Not just holding them accountable, but walking with them on their journey.
In order to create an Investment Grade Practice, you need a support team of top-flight leaders in your practice. And my heart goes out to all leaders…it’s not easy.
I am passionate about giving dentists like you practical leadership advice you can take into your practice and apply today. Which is why I am so pleased to have as my guest today Regan Robertson, CCO for Productive Dentist Academy.
So if you’re ready to skyrocket your leadership and empower the leaders within your practice, join us as we light on creating leaders within your practice, including:
- Why modeling the way is so important
- How including the opinions of people you don’t like is good for you
- Strategy for fueling your team’s leadership curiosity
Want to know if you have an Investment Grade Practice? Click here to use the completely free Investment Grade Practice calculator: What’s my IgP Freedom Number?
Want to have a conversation about your Investment Grade PracticeTM? Contact Brent at email@example.com.
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Victoria Peterson 1:32
Welcome to this episode of Investment Grade Practices, you hear the giggling because this is a woman that has been such an integrated part in my life, and I’m grateful for her every single day. I’d love to introduce to you someone that is very familiar to all of you in the podcast world, Miss Regan Robertson. Hi, Regan.
Hello, Dr. Victoria Peterson, thank you for inviting me on your show.
Victoria Peterson 1:57
You’re welcome. So this is a very special episode because we are working in the box. If you’re keeping up with IGP, and the four boxes of IGP, the four quadrants, this quadrant is going to definitely go head to shoulders in the culture index. So I want you to pick up your ears. If you struggle with being a leader and wondering why your team just doesn’t do what you tell them to do, or why you’ve poured 1000s and 1000s of dollars into training and then this still say, “I don’t know, I didn’t think that was mine.” Or any of those less than accountable. It comes down to this. How are you investing in the leadership of your team, not just the accountability, but walking with them on their journey? And, gosh, Regan, I’ve had the privilege now of knowing you for 14 years, I can’t believe that. We started out as neighbors staring at each other’s kitchen windows, with this great love of marketing, and we just, we were just determined to find a way to work together.
We have gone through houses, jobs, dogs, children, it’s a lot of life happens in 14 years.
Victoria Peterson 3:11
Yes. So for those of you who don’t know, Regan, she is our Chief Communication Officer here at Productive Dentist Academy. She has held many positions within our company. So that’s where I want to start. Regan is go back. Oh, my goodness, you were you 28? Were you 30, when you joined me?
I think I began I believe I was just over 30, but I’m not good at math right now but yes, I know that, I know that my daughter was just a wee, wee toddler at the time. Yes.
Victoria Peterson 3:49
And Benny wasn’t even here.
No, no, Benjamin was not even a thought.
Victoria Peterson 3:51
All right. So take us back to your early 30s as a graphic designer, coming into PDA and some milestones of your growth process to make it all the way up to the C suite from graphic designer, like give us some insights there.
Absolutely. So, I would say I was extremely excited to join PDA because my background had been started out as graphic design, and as I learned more about publishing, advertising, and marketing in general, I just realized there was a lot, a lot more things to discover, and a lot more things to learn about how people make a buying decision and that was, you know, one of my introductions to you, Victoria, it was me asking you in a previous position. How can I influence a marketing budget and how can I convince people that my designs need to go into this magazine or on this billboard and you opened up my mind and made me realize that there’s just a whole other world out there. So joining PDA was great because I was the art director of one person, myself. You gave me a few, I’ve got a very fancy title, very fancy title, and I was surrounded by all of a sudden, some of the nation’s best business consultants, team development consultants, marketing strategists and what that led to was one of my Clifton Strengths learner. I love input and I love learning, and I’ve always enjoyed being endlessly curious, and you definitely provided this space for me to be endlessly curious. In fact, one of PDAs, I think, Hallmark ways of being known is for education. So I was provided continuous opportunities to learn and expand and so from that, I went from directing to, into managing team, into managing the actual brand of PDA. So I went from B to C, working with doctors directly into working to attracting doctors. So we went from patient attraction into doctor attraction into the organization, and each time a problem presented itself if it happened to fit my skill set, there was no no, you’ve never told me no, ever in this journey and I think that’s how we ended up getting up to the ceiling just based on the problems that I like to tackle.
Victoria Peterson 6:20
I love it. So that might be maybe the first clue in your leadership is how do you find ways to saying yes, when your employees say I think I’m built for more, I see a problem, I would like to solve it? And Reagan, I know that you are so good at I know you’ve had mentors your whole life and you have this lens of the world that says, “I’m not only going through life, but I’m going to learn something in each moment of it, and I’m going to learn how it applies to me, I’m going to learn how it applies to the world.” So are there any lessons that you’ve learned along the way in your journey?
Oh, yes. I like that. You talked about mentors, because yes, I’m everything, because of my mentors, and it’s a highly personal relationships that I’ve had starting from my school days all up. In fact, I’m friends on Facebook with many of my high school teachers, and I remind them often that they have been such a keystone in me being successful in my life, but my lesson for you, I would say are listeners out there, it’s okay not to like people, because they may have a valuable lesson for you as well. So I would actually say part of my success has been including the opinions of anti-mentors, I would say. Yeah, yeah, some of my best lessons have come from people that I don’t really care for on a personal or professional level, that’s that saucy and provocative for you but, you know, if we’re able to listen and get out of our own way, and treat their opinion, like it’s valid, even if we don’t agree with it, some of the best growth I’ve ever seen has come from those relationships as well.
Victoria Peterson 8:04
Yeah, I agree with that, we’re gonna have to bring you back for an episode on that one topic but, I always know that I’m off somewhere in my leadership when I start hearing things like, “I didn’t want to bother you. I was gonna bring this to you, but I know you’re busy, or I know you don’t want to hear this because,” you know, and so when I feel like people in our organization are holding back, that tells me that’s one of my lessons is, you know, you’ve got to hold a strong mind for sure but how do you create that safe ecosystem? So people tell you the bad stuff, because the bad stuff is happening, whether you want to know about it or not and so the best way to fix it is to know about it.
It is and providing a safe place is really important. So giving honor, when somebody’s giving you feedback, that’s not the most positive is one really good step. I know in PDA, one of the initiatives that we brought in was providing team feedback in a really safe environment and doing surveys and then measuring ourselves and being willing to look at that, that data and ask ourselves, you know, how are we ranking ourselves? Where can we improve along the way? That is, yeah, having a safe space is something that is to me, a non-negotiable.
Victoria Peterson 9:28
And, yeah, well, and that’s this whole topic is about how do you how do you create an environment of learning where you’re growing and developing leaders? And for me, leaders are those people in your practice that believe in your mission, that know where you’re going. They come in early, they stay late there, they’re very committed, you don’t have to tell them how to do their job, but there is a process for getting there. They usually start out very enthusiastic, and then they get to solution and they complain and like, “Well, this wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” and they want to quit and they’ll say, “I’m going to quit,” and then they don’t quit and then the third step is reluctant contributor where you go, “I know I’ve trained you, I know we worked through,” and they still don’t contribute. That’s where you want to fire them, and then you’re gonna get to the peak performer stage and with you, Reagan, it was just so easy because you’ve somehow miraculous oh, I can’t say this, Trump is gonna say you always are enthusiastic learner and go straight to peak performance, but that’s not true and you and I know each other well enough to know, you’re excited and then we get into it and you go, “Whoa, I thought that was going to take an hour, that’s going to take 50 hours.” Yeah, and it’s more than and then we unbundle it, and then we parceled out and then we do get disillusioned, and we’ll bog down a little bit but we’re so committed to the process of peak performance, that we move most things through, not everything, but most things get moved through,
You know, clarity, clarity, clarity between you and I, that’s I think it’s scribbled on all sorts of post-it notes all over us and we’ve learned that I tell people I’m a frustrated learner, and I think it’s just the way I emote. So I tend to I’m called Sunshine, I’m called sparkles. I know, on the outside, there’s a lot of optimism, and I’m really passionate about that, but yeah, getting down into it, it’s okay to be uncomfortable with that process and getting back to the point about safe space. There’s a couple of things I’ve seen happen within great leaders. First of all, people look to the leader to see how they should be behaving and perhaps it’s, you know, I don’t know if you want to edit this out, but think about a dog pack, really. I mean, I have a dog, a little over a year old now and he looks to me, he doesn’t look to anybody else in the house, he looks to me to see what we’re doing and then he knows where to follow suit. So I think as leaders, modeling the way is really important, and that informs us how we should be showing up. So I watched both you and Bruce quite closely. When we work with clients, if I’m brought in on something, you better believe I’m looking at that leader and seeing how are they informing their team, and that helps us set the tone, know where we’re going, and then you underline that with that safe space environment. So now you’re starting to see what the operating system could look like, and the third part to that triangle, I would say is clarity, where are we going? What is our controlling idea for our mission? Where do I show up in this environment? And if it’s not defined, that’s where I start to see some of the problems coming in place ,and as a leader who has learned from making lots of mistakes, I’ll tell you if I’m more focused on my own career growth, or focused on my own initiatives, and I don’t take the time since I supervise what 18 plus people right now, if I don’t slow down and look at that individual’s role, their own growth path, how clearly it’s been described to them, and show up recognizing that what they’re bringing to the table, regardless of where they sit in the organization is just as valuable as the skills that any leader possesses, I feel like that really sets the table for success. So that maybe we can get out of that disillusioned learner and whatever the third place is there, you’re really frustrated with each other. I have found from using that formula, things are getting easier, it’s easier to onboard, it’s easier to move growth forward within the team. So it’s like you and Bruce say with productivity, you think it’s go faster, go faster, go faster, but the opposite is actually true. What makes you more productive as a leader? Slowing down, having the one-on-ones, giving the safe space and being clear, right?
Victoria Peterson 14:00
Yeah. It sounds so easy.
It’s because we’ve been to the school of hard knocks.
Victoria Peterson 14:02
Right? Yeah. So I’ll just, you know, for all your listeners in my own leadership journey, and helping to cultivate talent, that is just it’s a skill that I love. I’ve been called a dream releaser and so finding out what really sparks people’s passion, we don’t all have that gift. It just happens to be one that I have, but it’s not enough to say, “Hey, what do you want to do?” I did that for a long time around the company, and you don’t want to do this and that and why don’t you write yourself a title and change your job description? Of course, and I’m telling you, we got a big ol slap upside the head with a two-by-four of life during the pandemic and I was like, “Oh my gosh, there are no processes anymore,” because people have now, I allowed as a leader, for people to pick and choose which parts of their job descriptions they liked and wanted to do and which part of their job description they just decided not to do, and which part of their job descriptions they wrote other people into doing for them, and so accountability went everywhere, and we’ve worked really hard this past, I’d say 12 months especially, we now have role descriptions that are like a checklist for duties. You know, so a coach will post a welcome call and onboard the client to let them know our systems, they will then write up a document, they will share it with a team dev coach, like it’s very structured and I was always afraid of that structure. I was afraid of boundaries. I thought, “Oh, don’t don’t step on anybody’s toes.” So as a leader, you know, I really had to replace my wishbone like, “Oh, I wish they’d show up and do great things with a true backbone, and that backbone is the system and sticking with that system.” Yes, it’s more work, especially in the beginning, because we had to rewrite what we thought were beautiful role descriptors, but we’re very vague, like, provide five-star customer service, like that sounds really good but it has nothing that is tangible that you can hold people accountable to.
You will own and improve. I liked that because I thought What does it prove mean and where are benchmarks for that?
Victoria Peterson 16:17
Yep. So having that having the one-on-one conversations. I know you and I also, as we’re helping to develop the talent, and we’re doing a lot. Please, if you’re listening to this, don’t think that Productive Dentist Academy or our IGP system, you know, like we got it all figured out. We’re going through the same global pandemic, post-pandemic, economic times, employee times that everybody else is going through, right? So with the economic crash, there’s pressure on us to increase payroll and provide more value and hold people accountable, just like your dental practice. So we don’t see patients every day but we have that customer interaction and we have that team role and balancing it is really hard. So my heart is out to all leaders. I’m not saying this is easy, but I am saying that pouring into your team so that you have Regan Robertson’s in every position who really care, who have embodied the mission, then, you know, for me in any way, I’ll tell you, Regan, the way you show up, helps me sleep at night because I don’t have fear that you’re quitting your job tomorrow, even though you get job offers every week, you know, because I know we’re committed to the same mission. So how do doctors help their team show up like that? Like, they are freaking out that their hygienist is going to quit, she’s awful, but they won’t fire because they can’t figure out how to get a new one and they’re always freaking out and I’m not picking on hygienist because I used to be one, but how do you pass that with your employees?
It’s not about money. Number one, I have to run right out of that and if they’re leaving because of money, it’s similar to a sales conversation. If somebody is in sales process, and really is kind of nickel and diming on the price of a service that tells me that you’re not in deep relationship with the person. For me as a leader, and a manager, a director, the number one thing that has made it easy for me is being super clear about what key characteristics we believe our team should embody and our leaders should embody, that unlocked so much. So you’re right listeners, you’re hearing over a decade of scrapes and bruises and learning the hard way and we defined as you know, PDA, we don’t have a laundry list of core values. We have one, and it’s professionalism and underneath that, how do we define that each team member has to be knowledgeable in relationship and responsive and it’s ranked in order. We are not for everyone. We’re a fairly high-end consulting company and we are helping dentists get to some pretty significant levels of success and patient care. So we have to bring the top of the game, we have to have our knowledge enlightened and we have to be learning all the time. We have to be in relationship with each other. I don’t remember if it was you or Bruce but one of you said, ‘Would you rather be right or be in relationship?” And I think as leaders a lot of times we can get bent on this old authority structure of we have to be right we have this rigid structure in place and it’s almost like we forget we’re working with other adults. We’re working with fellow adults, but we need, we, so much gets confused in the definition of the words we bring in into the workplace, and so we defined knowledgeable being in relationship and being responsive to us, and now we have a shared language. Now we have a cultural operating system in addition to do this is you know how payroll gets filed and all of the really rigid data pieces, we have a cultural file, which I, for me, it’s just been a lifesaver. It’s made things a lot easier because we have an agreement, we know that it’s really important to be in relationship, how did we serve this client, and now, when I go in for quarterly reviews, annual reviews, growth path reviews, I can overlay that on every single job description within this organization, and it makes conversations a lot easier for both of us.
Victoria Peterson 20:28
You, in a nutshell, just describe the five key points within this cultural index section of the IGP system, right? And, and we do for our clients in our in office surveys before we go in as we onboard you as a client, we will send a survey to your employees and say, rank your boss on a scale of one to five, how great are they in their leadership and it has some questions like, Are they clear with the direction of the company? Do you feel safe to communicate within to your supervisor? Do you feel like your role is really clear? So we help you to discover your, it’s called the E-Net Promoter Score, and we’re really familiar with like patient Promoter Score, like a Google reviews and the five stars. I think this is the frontier of dentistry moving forward, particularly if you are moving away from the old in-network PPO grind of one crown a month or emergency care and you’re getting into comprehensive care with your patients. It is time to have a comprehensive plan for your employees. It’s not there, they’re bored, they come into flat organizations with no chance for advancement and hoping for $1 raise next year. It’s not inspiring.
And it’s just the data part with it. It’s just the number is the data part. You have to you have to pair it with the feeling part. It’s the act of listening, you have to care on a deeper level about them. Yeah.
Victoria Peterson 22:05
So we’re going to continue talking about this culture index. Regan, you have given us so many tangibles. I’m just furiously taking notes, answering this question, what could IGP doctors do to develop leadership within their team? And two of the most important things that I heard was, number one, include opinions of people that you don’t like, or that make you roll your eyeballs like be open and just sit in your uncomfortableness of getting feedback, and I’ll tell you, I have intentionally requested feedback about my leadership and management, and it has not always come back pretty. On Clifton Strengths, consistency is very low, is like next to last, and the number one thing of a great leader is to be clear and be consistent. So it’s that area that I struggle with, and the team tell me, they say you’re an inspiring visionary leader, we don’t always know where you’re going.
And the base of the role of the CEO, the visionary,
Victoria Peterson 23:11
right. And then the other thing that you said that was really interesting was when you’re in conversation with people come from the mindset that what they have to contribute, and their skill set is just as important as yours and there is such an academic gap between a lot of dental employees and doctors who have an additional eight to 12 years of formal and continuing education and someone who might have graduated high school have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s. There’s such an academic gap, that there could be some snobbery around that but I can tell you that Bruce Baird respects Summer Carol, more than probably most people on this planet. So you’ve got to really come down off your academic knowledge. That was a big gem that you gave us be willing to have value in every single person’s role. We’re not just this, and for God’s sakes, stop calling your administrators furniture, they are not just front desk people, they’re not front desk. You didn’t say that, but I’m going to throw that in there as a bonus, and then the other part was, you know, really modeled away, help them see that there’s a growth path in front of the model, what you want to see and you went really deep and key characteristics and you took us through that process a year ago and it’s not easy. We spent half a day on it and then we debated it for six months and then we changed it eight months later, but never wavered from the core. You know, I want it started out as genuinely caring. I wanted to just say, “Let’s love everybody,” and then let’s be in relationship and so you know, there’s a variation because words have meaning and vibration, but knowing that we’re knowledgeable and keeping up, knowing that we’re always committed to being in relationship, this isn’t transactional and knowing that we are responsive, not reactive, you know, there is some thought process to appropriately responding in due measure, versus jumping at 10 o’clock at night because somebody forgot to do their job, you know. So that’s something that I love that we’re bringing into this IGP platform, helping doctors really get clear about their goals, getting clear about their growth path for their company, and then getting clear about how their team can grow within that as well.
It really boils down to the why your own individual why doctors I would write down your job title is not your identity and that, to me, breaks down all the barriers in where you sit in an organization. I love the movie, Ocean’s 11, this cheesy movie from a remake from a classic I think of Brad Pitt was in it, George Clooney was in it, but it was all about a bank heist, and everybody in that Ocean’s 11 group, they were a team and each person held a specific skill set and when I think about the transformation, that Dentistry has the opportunity to make, you’re already transforming lives and with some of the latest technology that’s coming out some of the advanced education that I’m seeing doctors, they’re going beyond what we’ve seen dentistry in the past with the sleep breathing solutions, and we were saving lives. So if we can realize that every single role is absolutely critical to that mission and we view it that way, we pretend like we’re on Mars in a planet and we have to get out of this together. It helps, it helps us see what we do all all and an even level, and I think that that honors every role and it honors how we approach like you said academic learners are far different than maybe people who have exceptional street smarts. However, you need both of those in a dental practice. So be willing to learn from your team just like you are, they will be willing to learn from you.
Victoria Peterson 27:14
I love it. Regan thanks for joining me today and everyone. I hope that you tune in not only to Investment Great Practices podcast, but Regan Robertson and Dr. Chad Johnson’s podcast, Everyday Practices, where she hosts weekly conversations with our doctors. It’s an amazing podcast and you do so much not only for our company, but for our dental community and you are a true global leader. We are lucky lucky. Lucky to have you here.
Well, thank you so much likewise, and let’s go save some lives.