Episode 192 – Are You A Micromanager?

“I knew I was a micromanager because that’s the way I grew up. My dad was a Marine aviator and there was no gray area. It was either ‘my way or the highway.’” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

In this episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast, your host Dr. Bruce B. Baird explores an important topic that just about every dentist out there can relate to: micromanaging. Drawing from his own experiences in dentistry, Dr. Baird openly shares how his initial years were marked by micromanagement, leading to challenges in productivity and team dynamics.

As a self-proclaimed “master micromanager,” Dr. Baird reflects on the impact of his upbringing and military influence on his management style. Then he discusses the importance of self-reflection, and recognizing the impact of one’s leadership style on team satisfaction and practice success. Explore the struggles many dentists face in letting go of control, the toll it takes on team dynamics, and the key shift needed to become true leaders.

As you listen to this episode, please think about the following:

  • Are you a micromanager?
  • How has your upbringing influenced your leadership style?
  • What changes can you make in your practice to foster a positive work environment?


Regan 0:00
Hi, Doctor. 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 productivedentist.com/workshop that’s productivedentist.com/workshop to secure your seats now.

Dr. Bruce Baird 0:46
My wife tells me I’m a master delegator now, and I’ve always been a master delegator. You know, I always would try to find ways to get people to do things for me but in the dental chair, I wouldn’t. 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 you 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 1:45
Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist podcast and I want to talk a little bit today about micromanaging, how much fun is that? I am actually a, I’m actually a master micromanager and, as many of you know, after listening to the podcast over the years, you know, I told you my first 15 years in practice were, were not very productive. I mean, we did a lot of dentistry, but we weren’t very profitable and I went through employees about as fast as you could go through, my joke that every person in Granbury, Texas used to work for me at one point in time or another and I knew I was a micromanager because that’s the way I grew up. He, my dad, as, as you guys know, was a Marine aviator, and there was no gray area, it was either my way or the highway and I don’t know if you’re like that, you know, there’s a lot of folks, we go to dental school and we’re taught, you know, all of these little technical skills and, and if we’re off just by a millimeter, then it’s not good and, and so everything has to be perfection and you know, and it’s really a struggle, it causes a lot of, causes a lot of depression in dentists, because when they see something failed, they go, “Wow, it failed. It must be my fault,” because that’s kind of what we were taught in school. My dad kind of taught me if I didn’t edge the yard correctly, he would, he would point it out to and, and at some point in time, he would just do it himself. Well, that’s what I did and I would tend to just do things myself, I would, I’d go ahead and make the tamps because I could do it very quickly and so micromanage.

Dr. Bruce Baird 3:47
Are you a micromanager? I’m, I’m asking you that question because I want you to internally look, self-reflection is one of the things that is made one of the biggest differences in my career once I started understanding, success and failure and watching dentists and working with dentists and teaching. You know, are you a micromanager? Are you having difficulty? I see posts all day long in the threads all across Facebook or Dental Town or whatever and they talk about, “You know, what should I do? My team member is really good, but they think they have too much control or I’m having trouble finding new employees, especially in today’s new environment post COVID I can’t find the right employees. I can’t do this.” You know, and I think it’s time to think differently. It’s time to think like a true leader and somebody who I’ve always said if if you could teach me how to make a provisional restoration, or to make a temporary, which I didn’t make many the end of my career because, well a couple of reasons. Number one I trained my team to do it but number two, we were doing a lot of CEREC restorations a lot of CADCAM restorations and when I say, CEREC, I’m going to use that as CADCAM because now you’ve got Glidewell out with milling machine you there, there’s gonna be multiple different ways that you can mill restorations or print restorations. You know, that’s, that’s kind of the new, the new thing right now. So, but what are you doing with your team? Are you explaining exactly what you want exactly the way you want it done and it’s education, education, education to start with but if you just educate somebody, and you’re an asshole, well, it doesn’t really work that way and, you know, and I was very good at both sides, I could train and that could be a turret bucket. So I will say that that’s not the way to win friends and influence people and it’s frustrating and so I see so many dentists, because we’re already engineers were already pushed into this into this perfection mold or this perfection model. What are the things that I can do to get out of that? And my wife tells me, I’m a master delegator now, and I’ve always been a master delegator, you know, I always would try to find ways to get people to do do things for me but in the dental chair, I wouldn’t and so I learned that valuable lesson, through self-reflection through thinking about it and going, wow, you know, this isn’t working, you know, so if things aren’t working, then what do we have to do to change that? And it’s really up to us and as I’ve said, through Productive Dentist Academy, I really feel like most of the problems in today’s dental practices are us, the dentists, and it’s because we’re, you know, we’re knuckleheads in a lot of ways, we, we believe it has to be done a perfect way and we’re the only ones that can do it but what I can tell you is if they can teach me to do it, I can teach them to do it. You know, if the instructors in school could teach me how to do something, to makeup, you know, a beautiful restoration or to, you know, to talk, you know, how to talk to people and all of that, then, you know, I can teach my team, what it is that that I’m looking for. We always said we wanted a model practice and we were so far from a model practice those first 15 years and mainly because, you know, I wasn’t allowing it to be a model practice and so what is that, what is a model practice and when we start talking about delegation, and we start talking about those types of things, you know, how does that play? How did, how do we look at that and how do we change what we’re doing? And I think, you know, right now, we’re in the middle of the NFL playoffs, and they’re working out during the week, but they go through summer training, they go through spring training, they go through all these different things to perfect the game. Yet, we don’t do any of that. We open the doors, we hire people who we think has experience and we expect them to do it the way we want it to be done.

Dr. Bruce Baird 8:26
So number one is education, but it goes way beyond education. It goes into caring about your team and you know, it’s not that I didn’t care about people, but the stress of the dental practice made it appear as though I didn’t care about them and I will tell you, my friends, during that timeframe in my life, I was still a great friend, I was somebody who outside of the dental practice, I was somebody you could call and I was always trying to help people. But in my own practice in my own business, I was I was a butthead and so I wouldn’t expect people to stay in my business. I wouldn’t expect people to stay in my practice and work for me, because of the way that I rewarded them the way that I and there wasn’t a reward. I mean, I said you’re making this much money an hour I hired you to do your job, just do it and as I learned, as I figured out that that’s probably not going to work because I we were struggling and we weren’t struggling productive wise but we were struggling emotionally we were struggling going to work and enjoying it. We had the smiley face and a frowny face in the in the office and and I wasn’t I wasn’t happy.

Dr. Bruce Baird 10:07
So what I’m saying is what are the things that we can do to have it team that is so. So together that is so on the same page, that our productivity goes up, our profitability goes up but most importantly, our satisfaction of our job goes up, our joy of going to work goes up and when you’re having a great time at the office, trust me, you’re not going to have trouble finding people to work for you and that may be hard to self-reflect but if you’re having trouble with Team leaving, and team going places, I hear it all the time. “Oh, my team, you know, I’d love to come to PDA, but I just don’t have the kind of team that I think would listen.” Well, you know, then get a new team, get, get a different group of people but I will tell you, they probably are amazing individuals, they’re probably really good but you haven’t let them shine, you haven’t given them the opportunity to show you what they can do because it has to be done your way. Now, I like it being done my way but I’ve trained people to do it my way and then I come back, we reevaluate how we’re doing things, how we’re answering the phone, how we’re, how we’re doing all those things, you get these folks, that when they’re joyful, when they’re having fun at work, when it’s a family at work, all of a sudden, productivity goes up, profitability goes up. Happiness about being a dentist goes up, all those things go up.

Dr. Bruce Baird 11:33
So what I’m telling, telling you and tell myself every time I talk about this is and am I surrounded myself with people who are enjoying what they’re doing and what are the things that I can do to help them enjoy what they’re doing? Am I enjoying what I’m doing and how can I help them enjoy what they’re doing? And one of the things that I think that is a big plus is just saying thank you to tell people, “Wow, Gay what a phenomenal job you did on that. What an amazing, Summer, that was an amazing case that those provisionals were beautiful, I could never do those provisionals, like you’re doing them,” and I got to that point where I could say that because I believed it and because through a period of time, when it wasn’t the way I wanted it, I would train it, and I would train it in a good way, you know, by saying, “Hey, let me show you something, you know how you see this whole rough area, I’m able to polish this with this particular tool with this particular Burr,” and I think that that’s going to be a lot better try that and see if see what you think and then let me know. So all of a sudden, it’s like, “Hey, I kind of like being here,” and the doctors always complimented me. “Yes, I make I make a good living. People are complaining, I’m having to hire somebody for 25 bucks an hour for 28 bucks an hour for 30 bucks an hour. Yeah, yeah, you are now things have changed. We’ve gotten into this inflationary period but I want to share with you the things that you can do, where people will be people will be desiring your practice to work for and it won’t be so much about the money. Yes, it’s going to cost more in the future than it does today but that’s what I tell patients, you know, hey, you know, they’ll always say, Well, let me think about it. I said, well, they go, that’s really expensive, I go sure is, you know what, I’ve been doing this for 42 years, and I’ve never seen it go down in price. You know, it never gets cheaper. So we better do it today and I can look back and say the same thing about employee salaries and employee, you know, if our business is growing 10 to 15%, year over year, then, you know, I should expect to pay more for the people who are having fun. If somebody is not having fun, and you’ve worked with them, and you’ve tried to help them and you’ve done all this, and you find out gosh, they’re not having any fun no matter what I do, then maybe it’s time to invite them to their happy place. You know, but I would guess that most of your employees are great people. I just didn’t know them. I just didn’t know their families. I didn’t know I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s just I was so overwhelmed with the being running a business that was a million-and-a-half dollar business that it was overwhelming and so I’ll take responsibility for that and so in the next podcast that we do, I’m going to talk about what are some rewards and what are some things you can do for your team, to to show extra to show them how important they are to you. So hopefully this has been good. I like doing these kinds of podcasts at the beginning of the year so people can listen to them and say, “Okay, where am I?” You may be doing a great job of all of this and that’s awesome but there still are always things that we can do to improve. You may be horrible at it and there’s always ways to improve.

Dr. Bruce Baird 15:06
So I’m going to continue to talk about this on our next podcast but thank you guys so much for listening to the Productive Dentist Podcast. It is time you can go and vote for those podcasts for our podcast and, you know, tell your friends because I would love to share this information with as many dentists out there that we can, so I look forward to the next time we visit. 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 podcast@productivedentist.com don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the Productive Dentist Academy of productivedentistpodcast.com Join me again next week for another episode of the Productive Dentist Podcast


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