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May 1st, 2023

Episode 156: Dr. Baird’s Top Tip for Creating a World-Class Dental Team

“In dentistry, it’s so much more fun when you have a team that is 100% behind your work.” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

I was the worst boss ever. The first 15 years of my practice, my team hated coming to work. If something didn’t get done, I would rant and rave. Now, I have a world-class team who are efficient masters of their craft who I trust as partners in my pactice.

So what changed? Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Leadership isn’t about doing everything yourself. Its about being an example for your team. 

As you probably know, success in dentistry is all about relationships. Over the years I’ve developed what I like to call “Trust, but verify.” It’s about creating a solid system, training your team, giving them responsibility, and then holding them accountable. 

If you’re serious about creating a world-class dental practice with a team that runs like a well-oiled machine, then I challenge you to think about your practice, processes, team, and how you train your team. And as you do, focus on these three takeaways:

  • Your attitude – How do you walk into the office?
  • Your team – How well do you know them?
  • Your processes – How do you make sure they happen?


Regan 0:00
Hi, Dr. Regan Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and I have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else? That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams, get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help visit that’s to secure your seats now.

Dr. Bruce Baird 0:47
This is the way we’re going to do recare, we’re going to start doing it this way and you’re following along and then all of a sudden, you have a meeting eight months later, nine months later, and somebody brings up something about recare and you say why aren’t we doing it this way? They go, “Oh no, no, we did that for a while, but now we do it this way.” I go, “Well, wait a minute, I’m the boss. Why are we doing it that way?” And it usually was because someone left and we brought in someone else who had a different way of doing it and that is not leadership. That is not being an effective leader. What’s being an effective leader is whatever system that you have in your practice come up with a solid system, solid system. Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Bruce B. Baird, and you’re listening to The Productive Dentist podcast. in this podcast, I will give you everything that I’ve learned over the last 40 years in dentistry working with 1000s of dentists. I’ll tell you it’s not that my way is the only way, it’s just one that has worked extremely well for me and I’d love to share that with yo so you too can enjoy the choices and lifestyle the productivity allows, more time for things you love, increased pay, better team relationships, and lowered stress. Let’s get into it with this week’s episode of The Productive Dentist podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 2:12
Hello, this is Dr. Bruce Baird. Up today we’re going to talk about leadership and what I like to call ‘Trust but Verify’. You know, over the over the years, and I’ve told you guys I was the worst boss on the planet, because everything was my way or the highway. Well, I had to learn to speak that new language and that new language involves me learning just different communication skills and leadership itself is not about doing it yourself, but it really is about being an example for your team, and I think at some point, and we’ve always had a large, large team, and I can guarantee you the first 15 to 18 years of my practice, people hated being there and I’ve heard that from more than one person who used to work for me and more than one person who still works for me. So what changed? What things did I start to do differently? Well, the biggest thing is I started taking responsibility for my own, my own attitude when I walked in the door, when I walked in, I wanted to have fun being a dentist and it was difficult. I wanted to have a model practice I wanted that practice to be something that I could be proud of and I could share with other dentists and it’s something that you know, somebody told me years ago, you know, if you want to teach, which I love teaching, do something and make it the best you can absolutely be then share that with other people. Well, the first 15 years I wasn’t doing a very good job, but I also was coming in with an attitude with a chip on my shoulder that most of the team, you know, I had had that experience that they weren’t having fun either. So it can, it was kind of a downward spiral over the over the years and what I began to do is I began to walk into the office after the smiley face frowny face incident if you guys have listened to previous podcast is that, you know, that was me. I came in with a smiley face, or I came in with a frowny face every day. I tried, truly tried to come in with an attitude that this was going to be a great day and it’s easier said than done. I was going through a lot of personal issues, but still, I look at this as a one at play. When I walk in, I’m going to be in a generally in a good mood and I’m going to enjoy my patients and sometimes you have to fake it till you make it and that’s what I did, but what I found was all these people I was that I had been working with for years, I didn’t know anything about them, I didn’t. You know, I knew they had a couple kids or I knew this, that, but if you’d asked me what their names were, I didn’t even know what some of the employees names or so how, how am I supposed to be a leader when I’m really not even, not even a part of the conversation when I’m talking to my team? So I began to look at it and say, “Okay, who is, you know, start asking questions, just simply asking questions, my team, how are the kids doing?” What, you know, what do they do, and in what, you know, what, what are they doing at school? What are they studying? The same type of things that I would do with patients to build relationships, I wanted to start doing that and building relationships with my, with my employees, with my, what I call now my family, because they really are my family and what I found was, when I started showing an interest in them, they started showing a much bigger interest in our business and our practice. Truthfully, leadership, for me goes back to when I got out of dental school, I joined the military, I was in the service and, you know, I was the only captain in a 28-chair clinic and if you know the military, most of the Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels and Majors, they don’t do a lot of work, they just go to meetings in particular, they do that in a large place like Fort Sam Houston, which is kind of an administrative place where all the dentists would love to be stationed. I had spent a year in Korea, and then came back and, you know, was now in a 28-chair clinic, and the truth is, I didn’t know really what I was doing. I had eight chairs or eight treatment rooms that I could use and as a member of the team, it was really easy for me to be a part of it, you know, to have fun with my expanded duty assistance that I had, but the thing that made the biggest difference for me, was the Full Colonel who had just come in and taken over as the, as the commander of that clinic and he was one of the most amazing guys, he asked questions, and he got to know who I was. Now, I have to say, I learned all these things and I went to private practice and didn’t do any, but I’m going back to the origin, so that you’ll have some understanding of what I’m talking about, but he literally said, “Alright, Doc, let’s do this. I’ll see, let’s see who sees the most patients today, the most emergency patients today,” and I’ve gone, “Alright, let’s do it, “and so he would see 35 or 40 patients, I’d see 35 or 40, but whoever won, the other one bought a beer for him, you know. That went on for, I was there at Fort Sam Houston for three years and I will tell you, that it got better and better and better, because I would beat him and he was, “Alright, let’s take off early, let’s go play golf.” I mean, we literally, I was supposed to get off at 4:30, we’d leave 2:30, 3 o’clock, because we got our work done And we’d go play golf together. In other words, he took a personal interest in me. Well, that’s what I’m, we went from the last-rated Dental Clinic of that size 28 chair, the last ranked in the US Army to the first ranked in the US Army in one quarter. In three months, we began doing more procedures than had ever been done in that clinic. So why did I do it? Because my boss was a leader. He may, he was showing me how to do it. He wasn’t just sitting in his office, you know, coming up with stuff for me to do, he was in there doing it with me and the respect that I had for him, I would do whatever it took. Now I go open private practice and it didn’t work out quite that well. You know, I had employees that didn’t want to be there, they and so, and micromanaging, going you know, my anal retentive you know, background of being a dentist to being an engineer, everything had to be perfect, but what I found was getting to know my team and getting to know them personally, getting to know their families. Many of you do that and you know how that works, but it wasn’t what I was doing and then learning these training opportunities and, and, and giving new responsibilities to my dental assistants for doing their own schedule and being responsible for that schedule, all of those things and filling out tracker, so I knew exactly how we were doing each month.

Dr. Bruce Baird 9:25
Truth is trust but verify. That’s a, you know, I would give responsibility to somebody, and then I would expect it to be done. Now in the past, if it wasn’t done, I would yell and rant and rave, but I never asked him about it. For instance, I’m gonna give you an example filling out a tracker, for instance, we do trackers we’ve been doing trackers for 30 years, because I want to know how are we doing? What’s our production per hour or what’s our what we call raving fan index? All these different things, but I wanted to fill it out and if you asked me at any given point in time what’s my production per hour, I could pretty much tell you what my production per hour is. This month I’m doing, you know, whatever, $622 an hour. Whatever it was, I knew because my trackers were being filled out. Now, I had associate that came in and, you know, he had his team doing his trackers, but the difference was he never checked them. I would ask him, “What, what’s your production power?” “Oh, I don’t know. It’s pretty good.” Good, okay. So what ends up happening is, I would tell him, I said, “Well, it’s kind of interesting that you don’t know what your production power is, because your tracker hadn’t been filled out in six weeks.” So he wouldn’t know, but his team was responsible for that, but the fact that he wasn’t looking at it, he wasn’t verifying that it was being done on a daily basis meant it wasn’t getting done on a daily basis. How many times will you put something into your office as this is the way we’re going to do recare. We’re gonna start doing it this way now and you’re following along, and then all of a sudden, you have a meeting eight months later, nine months later, and somebody brings up something about recare and you say, “Why aren’t we doing it this way?” They go, “Well, no, no, we did that for a while, but now we do it this way.” I go, “Well, wait a minute, I’m the boss, why are we doing it that way?” It usually was because someone left, and we brought in someone else who had a different way of doing it and that is not leadership. That is not being an effective leader. What’s being an effective leader is whatever system that you have, in your practice, come up with a solid system, solid system, and then expect it to be dealt with that way, but hold people accountable for it. It’s so easy now with cell phones, because you can put little reminders on your calendar that says I want to ask Kelly, our office manager. Now I want to ask her about X, Y, and Z. Now, these are things that I expect her to do, but I’m just going to ask her questions about it. So she knows that that’s important to me and if it’s important to me, she’ll do it and you know, I don’t have to do it and at some point in time, it becomes physiologic, it becomes something that’s just part of their DNA. I don’t have to look at my trackers with Summer and with Gay. It’s, it’s, I mean, it’s physiologic they do it because they know I look at it and so the more you’re able to trust and verify the less you have to trust and verify if that makes any sense, but I still do it because I know that it’s human nature to do things. Sometimes it’s human nature, do it an easier way and if nobody’s looking, why not do it that way. It’s all about that. It’s all about doing it in the most effective way. For instance, where you care or how you work with hygiene, how you check hygiene patients, how the patients are greeted at the front desk, you go down the list and there’s you know, dentistry is not that complicated. You know, it’s not like we have 400 different systems. We have system for collections, we have a system for productivity, we have a system for greeting patients, we have a system for how we do our exam, you know, we have certain number of systems, but it’s not that complicated, especially if you come up with what you believe is going to be best for your business and best for your practice. In which for me, I’ve learned from everybody across the board in dentistry, and I’m continually changing, I’m continually finding new ways of doing things, but when we do something new, we, we verify that it’s being done, and we verify that it’s working. So as a leader, you know, you might say, “Gosh, guys, you know, I really thought this would work well, but I’ve made a decision that it’s really not doing what I thought it would do.” They get a feeling like, you know what doc really does care about us. He, he’s looking and evaluating the systems and we become together part of a solution that’s going to make a major difference in our business and when they’re doing it and I’m verifying, oh my gosh, it’s so much more fun doing dentistry when you have a team that is 100% behind what you’re doing. It may be you know, calling and confirming patients, having my team call and confirm, you know, my assistance individually. If I don’t ask them, “How are you still, are you making those calls? How’s that go? Are you finding that you’re running behind during the day?” They’ll say, “No, no, I’m doing fine.” Now when we first implemented that, oh, my gosh, the front office, the back, the people in the back were like, “Well, what are they going to do upfront” People up front said, “Well, why are they doing to verify? That’s what my job is.” No, I know what’s the best system that’s going to have the least number of patients not show up, because when Gay is in charge of her schedule, and she’s the one calling to confirm her patient, well, she knows that patient and the chances of them defaulting to Gay are very different than the chances of her defaulting to, to, you know, Jane up at the front desk, that, you know, when they call and talk to Jane, “Oh yeah, I’m not gonna be there, I can’t make that appointment,” they call talk to Gay, that’s a whole different animal. So these are little things that make a massive difference in productivity, but to me, it makes a massive difference in just the feeling of the office and how you go to work. You know, things are being done at a high level, because you’re holding them accountable, there may be only 15 things that you have on your calendar that you want to ask about, but make sure you do it every month because when you do it, you’re going to find that the team understands that this is a big deal. This is something that makes the office run. They get to do so much more than most dental practices around the country and I’m not talking about doing things that they’re not allowed to do with the dental practice that I’m talking about, they’re taking responsibility, they’re making sure that that patient walks in the front office, when they come through the door that they’re getting greeted a certain way because I ask questions about those things. So these are all things that you can do on your practice leadership. There’s so many great leadership quotes. You know, I love I love talking about leadership. It’s it’s something that for me, I was so bad at it, you know, it was horrible, Junior Seau, you know, unfortunately, it had had some brain injuries from his from football days, but he said, “Leadership can’t be fabricated, it is, if it is fabricated and rehearsed, you can’t fool the guys in the locker room. So when you talk about leadership, it comes with performance, leadership comes with consistency,” that’s Junior Seau, and you know what? I couldn’t agree more. So we’re going to talk a lot on the podcast about leadership and all the little teeny things that I do and I’m learning new ways to be a better leader. There is no arrival. You know, there is no day where you say, “Oh, I’m a great leader,” you constantly have to earn the respect of your team and if you’re not doing that, you’re just expecting them to come to work because that’s what you hired them for, which is what I did for years. I hired you to do this work, why should I pat you on the back? It’s not the way to become a great leader. So I’ll leave you with those comments and look forward to the next podcast.

Dr. Bruce Baird 17:33
Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Productive Dentist podcast. If you found this episode helpful, make sure you subscribe, pass it along to a friend. Give us a like on iTunes and Spotify or drop me an email at don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy at Join me again next week for another episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast

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