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September 19th, 2022

Episode 132 – Requested Replay: The #1 Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Leadership

“Success in dentistry is all about relationships.  It’s so much more fun doing dentistry when you have a team that is 100% behind your work” ~Dr. Bruce B. Baird

The first 15 years of my practice, my team hated coming to work. I was the worst boss on the planet. This is 100% on me. I was fortunate enough when I was in the army to have a great leader setting an example for me. But I forgot everything he modeled when I went into private practice.

When I was a young leader, if my team didn’t get things done, I would rant and rave. I wouldn’t ask why they weren’t meeting my expectations. I thought my team hated me and was there to make my life miserable. (Hint: They weren’t.)

Success in dentistry is all about relationships. I wanted a practice I could be proud of and share with other dentists, so I knew I had to change the way I related to my team. When we come together, it’s so much more fun doing dentistry when you have a team that is 100% behind your work. So join me today as I share:

  • The importance of your mindset in regards to your teams’ function
  • Methods I used to train my team and then check on their work
  • The role systems and processes play in building trust

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Dr. Bruce Baird 0:00
The 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. 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, 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 dentists podcast. Hello, this is Dr. Bruce Baird, and of the productive dentists podcast 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 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 change what things did 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 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 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 is 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 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 it. I didn’t you know, I knew they had a couple kids or I knew this or 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, started asking questions, just simply asking questions, my team, how are the kids doing? What, you know, what are they doing? And what, you know, what, what, what are they doing at school? What are they studying, the same type 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 and a 28 chair clinic and if you know the military most of the lieutenant Colonel’s 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 care 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 with the 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, 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 of them. 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 got Alright, let’s do it. And so he would see 35 or 40 patients, I’d see 35 or 40. But whoever one, 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 430 Wheatley, 233 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 and 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 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.

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 going to 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 a raving fan index all these different things. But I wanted to fill it out. And if you ask 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 him. I would ask him what what’s your production power? Oh, I don’t know. It’s pretty good. I go. 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 would 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, well, 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? And it usually was because someone laughed and He brought in someone else who had a different way of doing it. And that is not leadership, that is not being a, 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, recare, 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. You know, 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 exams, 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. And 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 is really not not doing what I thought it would do. They they get a feeling like you know what doc really does care about us. He he’s looking at 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 patience, having my team call and confirm, you know, my assistants 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 that the people in the back were like, well, what are they going to do up front? People have front and say, Well, what can I do? And if I 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 gays in charge of your schedule, and she’s the one calling to confirm her patient? Well, she knows that patient. And the chances of them defaulting today are very different than the chances of her defaulting to, to, you know, Jan, up at the front desk, and that, you know, when they call and talk to Jan, 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 gonna 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 asked questions about those things. So these are all things that you can do in 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, Jr. Say out, 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 Jr say. 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 it’s not the way to become a great leader. So I’ll leave you with those comments, and I look forward to the next podcast. Thank you for joining me for this episode of the productive dentists 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 at productive dentist comm don’t forget to check out other podcasts from the productive dentist Academy of productive dentists Join me again next week for another episode of the productive dentists podcast

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