Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Most Powerful Moitvator

One of the biggest challenges of leadership is motivation. “How do I keep the team motivated.” What motivates people has been one of my life-long interests. While all of us are motivated by different things, when it comes to a team, there is one very powerful motivator that must be present for you or any team member to stay engaged, keep coming back day after day, and strive to do the job better. This powerful motivator is represented by a simple four-letter word – HOPE. With it, you’ll keep on striving and improving. Without it, you will struggle to just get out of bed in the morning.

I believe that the one of the best ways to build HOPE is through education. The more you learn, the more you can see what is possible. The more you see what is possible, the more hope you have for a brighter future. So, do you have a learning culture in your team? Is there something new presented on a regular basis that helps everyone see something different and envision brighter possibilities? If so, you will unlock hidden motivation. If not, the troops will wane and wonder.

Here are some suggestions to build a learning culture into you team that will result in higher levels of hope and motivation:

1. Start with yourself. Do you have a daily learning regimen? Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to read something that will build yourself and/or your practice. Always have C.D.s or book on tape to listen to in the car to and from work. Learn while you workout by listening to a book. By creating a personal habit of learning every day, your own enthusiasm will increase because you will see new possibilities with the new vision that the learning will bring.

2. Share your learning. Make it a point to share something you have learned with your team or with a team member. You learn by teaching. Plus, your enthusiasm will be contagious. You will start leading by example. When your team sees you leading by example, many will have the desire to follow and create a daily learning habit as well.

3. Create an office learning library. Compile a list of your favorite books. You could even assemble those books in an office library. Give team members an opportunity to check out books, read them and report back to the team some things they learned that might apply to the whole office. This common body of knowledge will create an ongoing culture in the office that you can perpetuate by having everyone learn from a core knowledge base.

4. Add an “educational” moment to your morning huddle or team meeting agenda. Reinforce the learning habit by assigning a person to share one thing they learned that might be of benefit to the group. Give them some notice so they can prepare and deliver something meaningful.

Creating the daily learning habit individually and as a team will boost the enthusiasm and motivation in the office now and in the future. It is a habit worth having. It is a habit that pays off in extra doses of HOPE…which is one of the biggest motivators of all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I want to think about it!

Of all the patient objections, this seems to be the toughest one. Here are some specific verbal skills worth committing to memory for immediate use the next time you hear a patient say “I want to think about it.”

You: “That’s a good idea Mrs. Thinker. A decision this important deserves the proper consideration. In fact, many of our patients tell us that when they think about treatment like this, they think about one or more of three things:

1. Do I really need it?

2. Can I afford it? Or

3. Is it going to hurt?

“Which one of those three things are you going to think about the most?”

Then shut up! Let the patient tell you which of those three issues they are going to think about the most. Most patients will start to tell you what is on their mind and that will provide an opening to further discussion and possible resolution/acceptance.

A word of warning: Most patients are not going to think about much of anything once they leave the office. With the immediate urgency gone, they will be off to other things in their mind until they see you again and the urgency rises again. The best time to get the thinking done is right now!

The reality of “I want to think about it” is that the patient is telling you that there is nothing he or she has found in the treatment proposition that is compelling enough to move forward. Either you have done nothing to move him or her emotionally, or there has not been a connection made with what the patient perceives to need and what you have proposed. If you have done the proper “priming” on the front end using your other ToPS (Total Patient Service) skills, the number of times the “I want to think about it” objection will come up will be minimized. But in the cases when it does come up, now you have the best solution we have found to address the objection.

It’s something for you to think about!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Thanks to Coach Chuck Daley

If you have been in any of our “Total Immersion” or “Leading a ToPS Team” courses lately, you have heard me talk about NBA coach Chuck Daley who passed away a week ago on May 10. Coach Daley won back-to-back NBA titles as coach of the Detroit Pistons and then was tapped to coach the 1992 USA Olympic Basketball “Dream Team.”

I found myself with Coach Daley about two years ago at Pebble Beach when he happened to sit down next to me for dinner during a “Coaching Clinic” for business leaders which featured some of the greats in professional sports including Coach Daley, Joe Montana among others.

During our two hour dinner, I got an entire clinic in coaching from one of the best. What he shared could take up volumes, but here is one that is memorable and unusual:

“It’s a player’s job to play, but it is a coaches’ job to make sure that they win.” Coach Daley reminded me that great players love to play. They love the game and love to play the game for the sake of playing the game. But even the best players lose sight of the goal sometimes, and that is where a great coach comes in. The coach makes sure the team stays focused on the goal. He illustrated his point in 1992 when just weeks before the Olympics he staged a “controlled” game with the Olympic Dream Team vs. an unknown team that consisted of a group of college basketball players. The college team won over some of the best in the NBA. It was a humbling lesson to some of the best including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, etc. that just because you have a collection of good players, it does not make you a winning team. Good coaches make a winning team out of good players.

So who is your coach? If you as the dentist think you are the coach, think again. You are a player….the lead player. Call yourself the team captain if you like, but the coach you are not. A coach maintains an objective viewpoint, strategizes and directs the team on the right path to success.

Each week, I meet with our ToPS team of Practice Advisors who are some of the best “coaches” in dentistry. Each week they spread across the country to coach some of the best teams in dentistry onto even higher levels of performance. Their results are impressive and I consider myself fortunately to work with them. Which brings up another Coach Daley..ism: "It's a players' league. They allow you to coach them or they don't. Once they stop allowing you to coach, you're on your way out."

Daley understood that leadership is earned not granted. That someone can be hired to be the coach of an NBA team is a given. But whether or not the players will be willing to be coached by that coach is another proposition. Respect is earned by the coach, not granted by the team owner.

That same rule applies in any leadership situation. The willingness of those who are being lead is what creates the leader.

So, who is your coach? And what are you doing to earn the respect of your “players.” The answers to both of these questions can be found when you give us a call at the Total Patient Service Institute at 1-877-399-8677 and ask for your free coaching call with one of our Practice Advisors and ask for more information on our Leading a ToPS Team course…two musts for any team who wants to be ToPS in dentistry.

My thanks again to Coach Chuck Daley for his wisdom and example. He is yet another great mentor who has had a positive impact on my life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wisdom from Warren

In the spirit of seeking out good mentors, I spent the better part of my day at the feet of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger (right) and to the side of Bill Gates in Omaha, NE today. The insights could fill volumes, but here is one that may surprise you.

If there were one aspect of managing a business that the world’s most brilliant investor dislikes, what would you guess that it is? It is, in fact, one of the same things that most leaders, and most dentists dislike; having to let someone go.

Finding good managers is one of Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger’s strong suits. Having to let one of those people go is what they detest most. In fact, the two openly admitted to keeping the CEO of one of their major holdings on a year longer than they should have just because they liked him so much and had a hard time telling him that is was time to move one. It inspired me to know that if managing people for results is the toughest part of being the richest man in the world then we all have something in common! Even the best leaders struggle with similar issues. If Warren Buffest struggles with it and has to work on it, then the rest of us have that much more work to do.

Leadership skills can be learned. Sure, there are some things that come naturally to some people. But we all have things to improve. There is one leadership principle that is for sure, however. And that is that any organization will ultimately succeed only to the extent that its leader has the ability to lead it.

So what are you doing to continually improve your leadership ability? Leading a top team requires top leadership. It’s leadership that can be learned and acquired.

Recommit today to immerse yourself in the critical lessons of leadership. In the case of most dentists, your practice is only going to grow as fast as you do. To that end, make sure to place the ToPS “Leading a ToPS Team” course as one of your highest priorities. One course will not necessarily make you a better leader overnight, but it will put you on a better course to be a ToP leader!

Call our team at 1-877-399-8677 for dates, availability and course requirements. Take the next step to the ToP by learning the skills you need to Lead a ToPS Team.