What does your practice…practice?

Gary Zelesky explains how to transform your practice and staff from good to ‘great’

Here are some questions that all dental practices should ask:
• What separates a great dental practice from a good one?
• Why are some dentists more concerned about luxury than leadership?
• Why do some team members bring enthusiasm to work while others bring costly excuses?
• What transforms a client into your cheerleader?
It is said that practice makes perfect, but here is a more accurate quote from Vince Lombardi, ’Practice does not make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect’. I have seen over the years that practice also creates permanence which for many dentists does not allow room for needed change.

We practice what we believe about ourselves and others. It’s our limited perception that many times has created within the practice our limited beliefs about people and will in many ways effect one’s job performance. Are you part of the 53% of employers who said they don’t actively track improved performance?

‘Employees whose managers regularly communicate with them are nearly three times more engaged than those with managers who don’t regularly communicate. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.’ ClearCompany, June 28th 2016
Far too many team members who once had the right beliefs and were top performers simply got worn down with daily anxiety. ‘Good enough’ has replaced a desire to become ‘greater than’. To become a top performer requires an internal transformation of what you believe about yourself, the team and most importantly your clients. Using the acronym BELIEF, here are six attributes I have noticed in top performing practices.

1. Believe

Top performers trust in three specific areas:
a. Personal defined passion and purpose. They know who they are.
b. Power in something greater than themselves. They know what they need.
c. Product confidence and knowledge. They know what they represent.

2. Education

The three study habits of top performers:
a. Client awareness. Right questions produce right answers.
b. Client alternatives: They know the difference between wants versus needs.
c. Client actions: They discover the clients commitment by listening to their conversation.

3. Listen

Top performers pay attention in four ways:
a. Eye contact (turn off your cell phone to eliminate distractions ).
b. Verbal contact (ask more questions than launching your lecture).
c. Emotional contact (people remember how you made them feel).
d. Mental contact (engage your mental filter before you speak).

4. Initiate

Think S.P.A. Top performers are believable, trustworthy and to the point.
Story: Is what you are saying true to your team, to your clients and to yourself?
People buy into your believability.
Point:  Does the story have a point if not why not?  People buy into definable value.
Action: Do your actions speak louder than your words? People buy into what they see more than what they hear.

5. Enthusiasm

Top performers understand ‘The Passion Cycle’. Passion fuels productivity not busy. Passion centered people are intentional not inconsistent.
Productivity creates profit both financially and relationally. Passion-centered people increase the bottom-line and are team players.
Profit allows for a pleasurable work culture. Passion centered people have high expectation but higher gratitude. They believe in what’s possible!
Pleasure releases a desire to become more passionate. Passion centered people create within the practice tremendous movement even during the most mundane work day.

6. Failure

Top performers use failure to succeed. Here’s how.
a. Grow strong by owning your wrong! Take the lead when you have made a mistake. Be the first to admit it. Never hope it will just go away because it won’t.
b. Offer a reason not an excuse. Owning your mistakes can actually enhance your image. It shows confidence, accountability, and integrity.
c. Forgive yourself and start again. Take enough time to absorb the lessons of your failure, and as soon as you’ve done that, get right back out there and try again. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many ways to be a winner, but there is only one way to be a loser; failing to look beyond your mistakes. People can choose in their disappointment to become better or bitter. Those who have the courage to choose better do better jobs. Believe it!


Too many dentists have a staff but not a team! After all isn’t staff an infection? Dentists have a inclination to hire fast and fire slow. Often, there is a tendency to hire who’s available and affordable, rather than who’s passionate and purposeful. The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Never hire someone you can’t fire.

On a recent visit to a dentist’s office, I attended the morning huddle. A team member had the job of going through the day’s schedule, and had just begun when a voice reminiscent of the sound of nails on a chalk board said, ‘I am leaving in three weeks.’ I could feel the air leave the room as she expressed her future freedom from the practice. It sounded more like time served than time well spent. The next day she made the same announcement and I thought to myself, why wait for three weeks? Why don’t you leave today? That would have been difficult to express, given she was a relative of the dentist.

The power of one negative person in the office is costly, both in terms of financial and relational profit.

Office politics

Dentists – stop writing paychecks to staff that spread the infectious disease of gossip, grief and guilt! Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.

Do you have staff or a team?
•    Staff stab each other in the back. A team watches each other’s backs.
•    Staff complain about what they don’t have. A team compliments and considers what they do have.
•    Staff are problem driven. A team is passion driven.
•    Staff are busy, but not productive. A team is intentional and innovative.
•    Staff waste time and cost money. A team values time and creates wealth.
Simply put… staff is an infection; team is an inspiration! So, how to get the staff out of your team? Get rid of whiners and ignite the winners. In my years of passion coaching I have discovered there are two basic types of office personnel:
1.    The exit employee who doesn’t want to be where they are, makes excuses, and breeds a ‘staff’ culture of workplace deficiency.
2.    The entrance employee who wants to be where they are, takes initiative and creates a ‘team’ culture of workplace discipline.

Keep staff happy

It is not in your ability as a dentist that is costly, but in your inability to lead your team. We aren’t talking a few extra pounds here. Unhappy workers cost the US between $450 and $550 billion in lost productivity each year, according to a 2013 report on the state of the US workplace conducted by research and polling company Gallup. May 10, 2015

Here are three leadership objectives to get the staff out of your team:
1.  Always look for the ‘Entrance Attitude’ – hire people based on their passion for life, not simply the position you are trying to fill. They may have the gifts, talents and ability, but lack in selfless service.
2. Confront the conflict – don’t make the rest of the team pay the price by ignoring the bad apple in the bunch. Responsibility creates respectability.
3.  Thank your team – the power of personal and team recognition goes without saying. Never assume your team knows you appreciate them.
If you take the time to build a solid team, your practice will be filled with an exciting energy that breeds success!

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