Episode 175 – How Well Do You Know Your Team?

“Know your team. Know who they are. Know about them, about their families, where they grew up. Take notes, and smile.”

I recently spoke with a doctor who was struggling with his team: he had run through two teams and is on this third in 2 years. You might be wondering the same thing he was: How do I fix my team?

The answer is simple, but not always easy: become a better leader. I had to deal with this in my career, too. Early on, I ran through team members because I had the mentality “it’s my way, or the highway”. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how horrible I was.

Here’s the key: It wasn’t about my team. It was about me; it was about my behavior. The better I got as a leader, the better my team got. Good leadership – and a happy, productive team – comes from the heart, not the head.

In the most recent episode of my podcast – The Productive Dentist Podcast – I talk about some pointers and things that you can do as a leader that can help you develop a better team:

  • What is fair to expect your team to know
  • The surprising thing to focus on for 6 months
  • What you need to know about your team

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist Podcast. Today we’re going to talk about one of the questions that I get so often and I was just doing a program this last weekend and I got the question from several of the attendees and I wanted to kind of get back and, and talk about team training and and talk about how important your team is to being productive. So I figure it’s, it’s time, we’ve probably covered this a couple of times, but my thought process as we go becomes clearer and clearer about how important training your team is. How do you do that? I mean, I was one of the questions I had, the doctor is going through his third, his third team in a matter of a year and, you know, he was saying he couldn’t find the right people, couldn’t you I was having difficulties there and, and I felt his pain. You know, I’ve talked about this before, you know, I think everybody in Granberry used to work for me at one point in time or another because I was not it was more about me than it was about them.

And I explained that to him. And, and and he said, “Well, you know that this person did that and that person did this and one person said, you know, said something in front of the entire team that, you know, I didn’t like the way you talk to me in front of the patient or whatever it is,” and I said, “Well, you know, you may have responded the exact same way. If, if you were, if you were a team member and the boss, you know, did that you might have or you might have gone individually and talked to the doctor,” but he’s gone through all these team members and he said, “So how do I, how do I? How do I do it? How do I you know, how do I, how do I become a better leader?” And that, and I said, “Bingo, that is the secret to this, is becoming a better leader and inspecting what you expect, but doing it in a way that comes from the heart, not from the head,” and when I say that I used to be I was the guy who would just get very upset and I would roll my eyes and I would say a lot and so I was very confrontational but when I realized what had happened, you know, this is 10 or 15 years into practice, what I realized was, is that it was about me, it was about me and my you know, really, my behavior and the way that I expected people to do things and what I, what I’ll say is, the better I got the better my team got but let’s look at some, let’s look at some pointers and some things that you can do as a doctor to end up with a much better team and it’s probably the same people. During the program this weekend, I told I told the doctors, I said, “I guarantee you probably 80% of the people that I hired back in the early days were probably could have been fantastic employees. They could have been fantastic employees.” Meaning it wasn’t so much them, it was more me and so when I step back and look at it, I was like, “Okay, so what are the things that you can do to help your team?” First of all, the thing that I more than anything that I started realizing is I’m you know, I’m the boss, but I’m not the boss of their life, I’m not the boss at you know, I want them I hired a treatment coordinator to be a treatment coordinator and they had experienced why expect them to be a treatment coordinator and you know everything the way I expect it to be done. And that’s not fair. It’s just not fair to your team. to expect them to know, by osmosis, what you really would like to have done and so that’s where team training becomes critical. We call that a training opportunity and so this doctor had has had several things. First of all, he’s only been in practice for about two years, two and a half years, of which COVID was a big part of it. Then we had a giant freeze in Texas, his office flooded. So he’s been through the wringer and he’s got a lot of stress. And I understand all of that. So when I told him is over the next six months, he’s got great new patient flow, he’s he’s in a position where he can, he could easily be doing 2 million a year in his practice early on and I said, “Don’t worry about that right now, for the next six months,” remember, he’s gone through three teams, “For the next six months, concentrate on training your team, exactly the way you want things done and doing it with a smile on your face and doing it with a realization that you’re taking the effort now and it’s going to save you massive amounts of time later, you’ll be productive, but what you’re going to find is for next year, you’re going to be 10 times more productive than you would have been because you’re going to be hiring a new team next year if you don’t change the way you’re doing things,” and so what I do is I step back and I say, “Okay, first of all, know your team, know, know who they are, when I say that, not just know who they are, but know about them, their family, their, you know, where they grew up, where you know about their kids, their kids’ names, take notes, not while you’re talking to him. But as soon as you finish talking to that employee, you get yourself a basis, I tell you to do that with new patients, you know, find out about them find points in common linking and, and matching and mirroring and all that, do that with your team and most of all, smile, and just listen and get to know your team member,” because the truth is when you have a phenomenal team and I’ve talked about this, although I don’t know five or six podcasts ago that when I left Granbury Dental Center as far as being a producer, you know, I thought no one will ever produce like I did and my three assistants were 30 years, 20 years and 10 years, and they were trained by me. They weren’t, they didn’t have experience before they came to work for me. One was Walmart, one was, you know, one was worked in a vet, and then other worked as a masseuse, massage therapist and so when I say that, when I started realizing is these folks have a life, they have families, they have kids, and how they do is going to affect and how you do is going to affect everything, but when when I left as a producer, Dr. Brewski took over my three assistants, it grew him 1000 an hour almost immediately. Why? Because they were trained, they were trained and they knew what they were doing. So it’s going to be well worth your time. It’s going to be well worth your time to teach them exactly the way you would want to have it done. And so that’s, you know, that’s this six-month period that I’m telling them I said, I really want you to just spend time with them, ask questions, show them how you temporize a crown, show them what you expect and how you do it.

Now, once you’ve done these things, when you do you know because the big problem is, well what happens when something happens, you know? What happens when the temporary doesn’t look good? What happens when that’s not working? Well, well, what do you do that? Do you roll your eyes and sigh and do that? No, what you’re going to want to do then is you’re going to want to say, “Hey, Mary, let’s let’s take a look at this,” and you don’t do it in front of the patient, but I will talk to it and I’d say like, “Summer you know, you see how that edge around the margin,” and I go into the lab and I see how the edge and the margin is coming sharp and it’s and it’s jagged and it’s a little bit rough. I really want to make sure that those were really smooth because I’ve had a lot of crabs down and I don’t know if you have but they just drive your tunnel crazy. So but it looks great other than those, find that positive and then give them the critique, give them the training that they need. And do it consistently. No one will end up happen. I tell the story about the CEREC you know I we started doing same-day smiles with Sarah and we were literally I figured out her production per hour Justin one was $850 an hour. Now when I say that we market it for same-day smiles, people want same-day smiles I started out having any paralysis come in and Eddie’s phenomenal down in San Diego. cab smiles and so he would work with me. We do 40,50 units in a couple of days, and so people would get their smile, we prep the teeth, and they get their smile, the early in the afternoon after they were completed. Well, my team members, and I could do that and I said, “All right, let’s do it.” I sent them for some training and then she would show me the proposal, you know, on, say, upper, upper eight crowns and I would look at the proposal and you know, the team member that hasn’t been to four years of dental school doesn’t understand anatomy the same way you and I do. So, you know, they just don’t see that and so I would say, “See here, the cuspid is kind of short arm and a long arm, and it’s, it has this shape and it had that.” No, so when I was looking at this proposal, and by the way, the software is continuing to get better and better with that, but and I would show and so initially, I would be looking at eight crowns, and it might take me, gosh, it might take me 30 minutes to take to help her, show her. So I built that into my schedule and then after about six months, it was taking me about 20 minutes and after a year, it was taking me about 15 minutes. Two years, and I would actually literally take a look at and I go, “That’s beautiful, hat looks great. Look at the context, see here how your contacts are shaped beautifully see how see, see the contours.” So I trained her on the anatomy of teeth. It was worth it to me, because then I could go in prep a teeth, walk out of the room, she takes over scanning, designing milling, I would always check them, meaning I would inspect what I expect and if she ever had a question, she felt very comfortable coming to me and asking me questions. Summer oftentimes, you know, I would have her doing something, you know, packing cord, or you know, which we didn’t do a lot of but but I would have, and she would come to us, “I don’t feel comfortable with this. I’m having a difficult time with that.” It wasn’t like, I can do everything myself but they felt comfortable coming to me now my first 15 years in practice, I promise you, they didn’t feel comfortable coming to me, they didn’t even want to talk to me. So going back and talking to this doctor, I said, “Here’s the thing, I want you to to train your team for the next six months, and plan on being less productive than you, you had them and I know, you know, the pressures on you know, you’re finally coming out of COVID, coming out of a freeze and taxes, but I want you to concentrate energy, because this is going to be the long term play. You’re not just in this for the next year hearing this for the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, as a young dentist,” and I said, “So when you have a trained person in your team, little things don’t matter. When I, when I say that they don’t believe they don’t quit, they don’t do those things. What they do is they they believe in you because you believe in them and, you know.” It’s just so important to I almost feel I almost feel embarrassed, even tell you, you know how bad I was for the first 15 years of practice. This is learnable behavior. I mean, I would horrible but I know that you can do it and what you’re going to find is at the end of that time, you’re going to find you have the most dedicated loyalty and you’re not just producing for you and you’re not making money for you, but your team is also highly paid, highly compensated. You’re taking care of their family. In many cases, you know, you’re taking care of not just them but their family in that influence and you’re going to ask questions, “How’s Bob doing or how’s little Bobby doing or has little Bob married?” And you want to become involved in these people’s lives because you’re going to spend more time than that with them. Then in many cases you are with your own spouse or your significant other. So anyway, I hope this hits home for you because I can promise you when it finally hit home for me, I actually became a productive dentist and when it didn’t I, I was productive but it was the most stressful, a gut-wrenching heart muscle, the stomach lining problem that, that I never experienced in my life and so I hope it makes sense. I look forward to next week and good luck on training your team. It is something that’s doable, and anybody can do it. So look forward to next week. Thanks, guys.

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