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How to Increase Staff IQ through Cross-Training – Episode #330


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It’s being called “The Great Resignation” and it caused many offices to revamp on-the-fly as employees were forced to multi-task due to worker shortages. Here’s how to prepare right now so you aren’t caught in another scramble. On this Dentist Money™ Show, Ryan welcomes Kiera Dent, founder of The Dental A Team, who explains an effective way to start cross-training your staff.

Show Notes

www.thedentalateam.com

The Dental A Team podcast

 


 

Podcast Transcript

Ryan Isaac:
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Dentist Money Show brought to you by Dentist Advisors, a no-commission fiduciary, comprehensive financial advisor just for dentists all over the country. Check us out at dentistadvisors.com. Today on the show, we have longtime friend of the show, Kiera Dent from the Dental A-Team. And today Kiera is gonna be talking about teams and processes, and we spend a lot of time talking about team morale, especially around communication, having hard conversations, giving feedback, receiving feedback, and implementing that feedback. Super important conversation and a lot of insights from her experience and her team’s experience traveling around the country and seeing what teams are up to all over the place. So, many thanks to Kiera for spending time with us. Very good interview today. Very helpful. And thank you our listeners for being here and joining us. We really appreciate it and we love that you’re here and if you have any questions for us, go to dentistadvisors.com, click on the Book Free Consultation link. Let’s have a chat. Enjoy the show.

Announcer:
Consult an advisor or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor. This is Dentist Money. Now here’s your host, Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac:
Welcome to the Dentist Money Show where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host, Ryan Isaac, thank you for being here. And we are back with long time friend of the show, Kiera Dent from the Dental A-Team. What’s happening Kiera?

Kiera Dent:
Hello, Ryan. I’m shocked you didn’t say we are siblings yet because I think in another life, you and I… We say long lost friends and I’m like, no it’s like long lost siblings. Got the red hair going on. The whole thing.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. The red beard, red hair, red beard. It’s…

Kiera Dent:
It’s perfect.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s true. It matches up. Yeah, it checks out. So, thanks for being here. It’s been a little while, although our companies do things together all the time, so I never know like how long it’s actually been since you’ve been on the show, but it’s probably been a fair shake. How have you guys been? How is the Dental A-Team? You guys are busy, you’re traveling all the time. How are things faring for the Dental A-Team right now?

Kiera Dent:
Things are good at the Dental A-Team. Yeah, it has been a minute. It’s funny when you said that, I go back to my first podcast on the Dentist Money Show and it was you and Reese actually. And…

Ryan Isaac:
Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Kiera Dent:
It was one of my first guest podcasts I was ever on when I first started. And I remember Reese asking me the infamous question, Kiera, is Dent really your last name?

Ryan Isaac:
He did?

Kiera Dent:
I had never, ever thought about Dent being a stage name. He literally asked, “Is this a stage name?”

Ryan Isaac:
That sounds like Reese.

Kiera Dent:
And so ever since that day, I thought like, No, it’s not. It just took me three finances to get this last name.

Ryan Isaac:
Wait, so you’ll mention that sometimes and I always thought maybe that’s because people ask you that a lot, you’re in the dental field and so did you make up that name, but you hadn’t got that question before Reese?

Kiera Dent:
No.

Ryan Isaac:
That is just so Reese. That is such a Reese moment. For anyone listening knows Reese, many do, that is such a Reese moment. I’ve always said that guy’s super power is the ability to ask questions nobody else is asking. And so, he’s always been so good at that. So shout out to Reese. That’s solid.

Kiera Dent:
So yeah, things at the Dental A-Team though, since that time have been super good. A lot of people have thought that the Dental A-Team is not traveling, which is not true. We have been traveling since literally the second it opened back up. And I will say that was a perk of COVID. If any of you did travel throughout COVID you had like a private jet to yourself, you had the airport to yourself. It was like concierge red carpet service for you. I remember walking through LAX and I was the only person walking through the terminal and I felt very creeped out. It was almost like a ghost town status.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s weird to be in those places when they’re empty. So weird.

Kiera Dent:
It’s so weird. But yeah, so we physically fly to a lot of people’s practices. I know we work with a lot of Dentist Advisors clients, and I feel like we’re a good peanut butter jelly duo together. You guys are all about their investments and we’re about helping those offices reach their maximum potential through ease. I’m a big… You can call me lazy or efficient, I prefer things that are much easier than hard. And so that’s really, our model is to help those offices understand their profit margins, so it’s great with you guys, but also being able to have a full team approach where it’s about developing people. So leaders living their dream of a life and then also implementing systems and team development top to bottom. So it’s been good. We’ve been having fun.

Ryan Isaac:
Awesome.

Kiera Dent:
We have a ton of traveling consultants on our team now that’s… I feel like they’re little mini unicorns in the world and we tend to pluck them out of the dental space, but it’s been a good vibe and a good time and we’re always so honored to just give back and serve ’cause my goal is to positively impact the world of dentistry in the greatest way possible. So if we can change those offices and they can impact their communities, we’ve done our job.

Ryan Isaac:
Those who might not know, you are… You have a team of people who travel to people’s offices to do in-office… What happens on a typical in-office visit? Is it over the course of a couple days, a week at a time and what’s happening over those days that your team is there?

Kiera Dent:
What it kind of looks like is we have found… And this is coming from hundreds and hundreds of practices and hundreds of hours of coaching and developing and figuring it out. And as a team member and as a practice owner myself, I think the biggest piece I wanted when we built Dental A-Team was I wanted it like… Coaching on my terms and not somebody who just told me how to do it, but actually would do it again. Maybe I’m lazy or efficient, but I thought, I don’t actually know what the heck I’m doing. It’s like I don’t actually know in Dental A-Team how to do marketing. That’s not my world. So I have a really dear friend who is a freaking genius on marketing. And I hired him to teach my marketer how to be a great marketer. And I kind of think that that’s how we are for teams. I worked at a dental college and I know from firsthand experience, they don’t teach you how to run a team. They teach you how to prep teeth and not get sued. That’s literally what they teach you.

Ryan Isaac:
Prep teeth and not get sued. That’s it? That’s dental training 101?

Kiera Dent:
Pretty much yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s two courses, “Prep teeth,” “Don’t get sued.” Okay, I like it.

Kiera Dent:
Okay, great.

Ryan Isaac:
All right.

Kiera Dent:
But like watching those students, I realized, You guys are going out into the world… I worked at Midwestern University’s Dental College in Glendale, Arizona for three years. And I watched and I thought, All right, so you guys are actually teaching them how to prep teeth, like drop a box and how not to cut the lip and how to make a perfect impression and how to make temporaries. But there was never training that was super in depth because honestly, dentists don’t truthfully care about the front office. Somebody else will do that job. Your job is to do dentistry. Your job is to prep teeth. Your job is to diagnose. And so I feel like the front office and the team aspect is often overlooked, not out of choice, but just out of, I would say almost connection. You’re not connected to that space so it’s hard to learn concepts that you’ll never really be able to apply.

Kiera Dent:
So when we built the Dental A-Team, it was literally that, like, “Let’s go in, let’s be team members… ” So all of us have front office and back office experience… “And let’s be the team and teach the team how to be amazing.” I as a team member had never worked in many practices. I think in my entire career, I worked in three practices. One as a dental assistant. One as a treatment coordinator and one as the owner and running every single position in the practice. So that’s my background of three practices. Now my body’s been in over 200 offices and being able to bring that experience to your practice and your team, so it’s done through coaching calls and then also in-person. Now, when I first started, I used to be in an office for like three to four days.

Kiera Dent:
I realized I’m like crazy town, psycho, Tasmanian devil. I have too many ideas that it’s like, “Get me out of your office so we have time to implement.” And so we typically, depending upon the size of a practice are in there for a day and a half to two days, if we’ve got larger locations… So I’ve got an office of eight different practices that we visited. Usually we’ll tag team, two consultants, divide and conquer and see those over the course of a week. But typically when we come in, it’s kind of seeing you guys’ processes, giving tips and training right away of what your immediate needs are. So kind of like a patient, what’s their chief complaint? And then let’s give you a solution to make your life easier and give a better patient experience. So everything we do is not cookbook, it is not set intercept process. It’s customized for that office and that practice based on their needs. And as a result, we’re fixing the needs. We’re not coming in and saying, You need to fix your schedule. It’s like, “Oh my gosh, our schedule’s falling apart all the time.” So we create the solution to your practice and in doing so we typically see a 10% to 30% increase in revenue in about 30 to 90 days and a decrease in overhead anywhere from 5% to 25%, usually in the same time period. So, pretty quick ROI.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s a lot.

Kiera Dent:
But also then we’re able to train you and your team how to do this without us, and have a much happier, less stressed out team, which is what I think everyone wants and happier patients [laughter]

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. And I wanna get to that today. I’m curious about a couple things. Going back to what you said about team members not knowing how other team members work in an office. If you’ve ever been a part of a small company, then you know what it’s like to be front office person and phone answering person and website design and janitorial services and client [chuckle] yeah. I’ve been there with Dentist Advisors with Reese from day one. You’ve been there with the A-Team from day one. Dental practices are different because usually by the time they start up… Now, often the dentist might do that, the dentist might be doing their own hygiene, assisting, answering phone calls. That happens sometimes. But how do you give a team an opportunity to see what it’s like to be in someone else’s role? And I guess another part of that question would be, I’ve met people who do rotating teams, like rotating positions. And it’s not that common that I found, but how do you give that experience? And what’s that like?

Kiera Dent:
So I definitely was that person who in my office was like, “All right, front office and back office don’t work well together. I’m gonna give you guys like a really great opportunity to be in each other’s world.” Well, that did not go super great. It was good because everybody then appreciate each other a lot more.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, but efficiency for the business is not great. That’s gonna be…

Kiera Dent:
It was a hot mess.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s like when the drummer and the singer switch in a band, you’re like, “This doesn’t sound like the band I wanna listen to, switch back.”

Kiera Dent:
[laughter] I felt like hot mess, express status for an entire week. It was crazy. But I think one of the biggest things, is helping people be really, really fantastic. But I think through 2020 and 2021, one of the biggest things we’ve learned is one, it was a great resignation. So we lost a ton of team members that were these seasoned team members. Two, we lost a lot of the workforce, whether it was due to people wanting to be home with their kids, or I think a lot of people just decided, “Hey, we don’t need two incomes. We’re gonna stay home.” So we lost a drastic amount of the workforce that was there. So now we’ve got all these team members that don’t know what they’re doing. We’re pinch hitting for people being out on COVID. And so it really turned into this stark reality that we do need to have operations manuals and protocols and cross train.

Kiera Dent:
So I don’t necessarily go into a practice and say, “All right, hygienists, you are sitting in the front desk.” But what I do work on heavily, especially right now with a lot of practices is let’s get that operations manual. That’s a usable operations manual. So when I’m out sick with COVID, which I got stuck in New York with COVID trying to see practices. [chuckle] When that happens, people need to have a quick recipe guide book to get through. I remember I had a team call me and she’s like, “Kiera, I’m the dental assistant most days, but I’m trying to send out insurance claims because we’re not getting paid. And our insurance person’s out with COVID for the last three weeks.” That’s how you get people trained up to this. So what we typically do is build an operations manual, and then at least like once a quarter, if not, twice a year, kind of do a round robin.

Kiera Dent:
So Ryan, you and I would actually switch positions just for that training. So maybe a two to four hour training where you’re gonna take my front office treatment coordinator handbook, and I’m gonna take your dental assistant handbook. And we’re gonna try and see, can I set up a room for a crown prep when I have no experience doing that? Can you actually present a treatment plan when you’ve never had experience doing that? Can you follow up with a patient on an unscheduled treatment list without you ever doing this? So that’s how I tend to cross train without creating that mayhem of having those rotating teams. And then also giving doctors a lot of peace of mind, because if I go out on COVID or Ryan goes out because he got another job, we’re not left high and dry with all that knowledge going with that team member and feeling very trapped and very scared, it’s helped to alleviate a lot of that fear from dentists to know that their practice can function even with the loss of team members.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. And I’m glad you bring that up because I’m finding that as I talk to clients around the country, I’m not sure everyone came back all of a sudden to everyone’s offices, it’d be cool to hear what your take is on that, on people actually coming back to the workforce in the dental industry. But I’m finding that offices are just kind of… They’re just like, “Well we’re getting along, we’re figuring it out. We’re short two people but everyone’s stepping up and learning some new skills and we’re figuring it out.” Which is, yeah it’s kind of cool in one way, it kind of forced everyone to be more efficient and to do that cross-training. But I guess going back to the other thing, are you finding people are coming back? Are people filling positions now? Are people entering the workforce again? Are there hygienists anywhere or what’s happening in your offices?

Kiera Dent:
Yeah. So I think actually we are seeing the shift in the turn come. I still think that there is a shortage of team members. However, I do think across the nation, there are more people applying for jobs and ironically, right before this podcast, I actually was podcasting with an office manager that I’ve been coaching for the last three years, and she actually was giving some great tips of how to attract really great team members to your office. So during 2021, she was able to hire and retain seven different team members, and that included hygienists, doctors, assistants, and front office. So the answer is yes, they’re out there. I think what happens is we’re short-staffed as a practice, so there’s not necessarily the man power to try and follow up on the resumes, call the people, interview the people and actually, I think that’s more of the shortage than it is actually people not being available. So that’s kind of been my take, but I do think that there is a shift, I do think people are coming. Hygienists, I have heard so many people get innovative with the hygiene shortage…

Ryan Isaac:
Like what? What is that? What have you seen?

Kiera Dent:
Yeah. One of my favorite ones actually is a client that you and I share together and he was so brilliant. He decided that on days that they were doing double or assisted hygiene, that his hygienist… He would actually pay his hygienist more on those days. Because most hygienists don’t want to work those days, but if they’re making a higher hourly, and then you bring an assistant in on it, one, you’re serving more patients, two, the hygienist is super pumped because they’re actually making a higher dollar, three, the doctor is super happy because to pay two hygienists to see those patients is actually not as much, so he’s saving money on that and then we’re able to grow an assistant to be able to do this.

Ryan Isaac:
Cool.

Kiera Dent:
And then it’s also creating the protocols for a future assisted hygiene if we ever needed to have this when we’re out with a hygienist. So that’s been like a really creative way…

Ryan Isaac:
Wow. Shout out to our mutual client then, that is good for them. That’s awesome.

Kiera Dent:
Yeah. It was so clever. And then something… I know in the state of… I have a client in Mount Vernon, Washington, and I’m not kidding, I saw the Indeed ad. A hygienist was going for $120 an hour. True story. So when people are like, “Oh, my hygienists are so expensive.” I’m like, “That’s the highest I’ve ever… ” And I truly saw the Indeed ad for it. And at that point guys, throw in the towel, don’t hire a hygienist, hire a dentist. There’s no reason to hire a hygienist at that price point, you might as well bring in a new grad that can do… They can actually do dentistry, they can numb and they can do a cleaning for you. So…

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah. And they’ll probably do it if they’re just out of school and stuff, just come do it. That’s kind of wild.

Kiera Dent:
A 100%. Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
Wow.

Kiera Dent:
So there are hygienists, they are coming back. And I have heard from quite a few hygiene schools that they’re actually graduating more hygienists than they have in the past, and they’re opening up more cohorts if you will. So I feel like it’s turning. I think offices need to… For me at least, literally I hired a personal assistant basically who does all of my hiring for me because we were short-staffed and that’s been a huge game changer, because I wasn’t having the time to do it even though I knew it was necessary. So I would say for those offices struggling, guys go to church even if you’re not religious and go find someone at the church. Go to Starbucks and find a cool person…

Ryan Isaac:
I don’t think anyone’s made that recommendation here yet. Go pull your talent at church, solid recommendation. Number two, Starbucks. So one is church, two is Starbucks.

Kiera Dent:
Three is like…

Ryan Isaac:
Disneyland.

Kiera Dent:
My next door neighbor… Yeah, Disneyland. My next door neighbor is actually Shelby, who runs our whole company, and it came from her watering my plants. And I was like, “You’re awesome, do you need a job?”

Ryan Isaac:
Hey, you’re eating your own cooking, that’s alright. It’s really true though. These are the times when businesses are forced to get creative. We kind of lose the luxury of being a little lazy in some of our processes when things like this happen. The economy forces us to make decisions like this. And it’s kind of funny how you realize what you can get by with. What kind of innovation you’ve got up your sleeve like, “Okay, I guess I could figure this out.” And it’s kind of cool and that’s awesome.

Kiera Dent:
Yeah, I thought it was a fun… Mike Michalowicz did a event, and he’s the author of Profit First, and I remember he gave such a good visual when it came to innovation and he said, “You know… ” And this is a great dental… A dental analogy. He said, “You know when you have a fresh tube of toothpaste, you just squeeze that sucker and it doesn’t matter, but when it is down to the wire,” He’s like…

Ryan Isaac:
Yes.

Kiera Dent:
“You watch people like… You find every way to squeeze more toothpaste out of that tube so you don’t have to go buy more.” And I thought that’s the same thing as a practice, so I’ve even encouraged…

Ryan Isaac:
Careful with it.

Kiera Dent:
Some of our offices to ask the question of, “What would we do if we couldn’t hire another hygienist? What would we do if we couldn’t find another dental assistant?” Because I promise you, McDonald’s did not come up with the self-automated tap to order just by sheer luck. That came from people asking better questions and saying, “What would we do if we couldn’t hire somebody like this?” Because I think we sometimes get stuck in the rut of old traditions of what used to work rather than looking to innovate, to get creative. Maybe you could share a hygienist with a friend doctor that you guys swap this hygienist. Maybe you could have a hygienist that works maybe Fridays and Saturdays. Maybe you do a whole hygiene day two days a month where we’re not seeing any doctor patients and we crank all of our operatories so we can see all of our hygiene patients in less days that don’t require as many hygienists. Those type of innovative things I think propel a practice forward if you’re willing to ask the questions.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Let’s talk about how people are feeling in offices. Morale was one of the things we were talking about discussing today, and from my perspective, I feel like it’s improving. Year over year, I think it’s gotten better, and it’s probably a product of what we’re talking about, people are getting innovative, there are more people coming back in the market, they’re figuring things out. But what’s the pulse on morale? How are teams in general feeling? Are they burnt? Are they stressed? You hear the stories from the last couple of years hospitals and the nursing profession and the stress they’ve been under and kinda some of the career burnout, what’s it like in dental for you guys? What are you seeing?

Kiera Dent:
I call it The COVID crank.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. [laughter]

Kiera Dent:
And I think a lot of people are…

Ryan Isaac:
Sounds like a terrible brand of drugs that have just hit the street during the pandemic.

Kiera Dent:
COVID crank.

Ryan Isaac:
It’s the COVID crank.

Kiera Dent:
I do think teams are tired. I think that they have been pivoting, they’ve been innovating, and teams and doctors alike are tired. With that said though, I think a lot of them have forgotten what made their team super fun pre-COVID and they’ve kind of, again, laser-focused on all the things we can’t do, rather than seeing all the things we can do. So I’ve been working… I will be honest, morale? Guys, luckily I have my background in marriage and family therapy because my life as a consultant has shifted from systems and processes, to life coach and morale booster in offices. Because you can have systems all day long, but if your culture is struggling, you don’t have a team of people that want to stay there. You will have the turnover, you will have all those different pieces, and so I think it’s important that… I don’t believe that culture or morale just happen. I believe that they are a slow-burn that is curated over time. And so really making sure that, one, leaders are focused on that culture. Are you checking in with your team members? Are you celebrating their wins?

Kiera Dent:
I get it. I love and hate writing a freaking Friday five every Friday. I write five highlights of our team, every single Friday.

Ryan Isaac:
I was gonna say, “What’s a Friday five?” Okay, so every Friday is five highlights of the team?

Kiera Dent:
Five highlights of the teams.

Ryan Isaac:
Like specifically saying, “This is something that someone has done well.” You do this every Friday?

Kiera Dent:
Every single Friday and I’ve been doing it for the last, almost year and a half. Every Friday, without fail, even if I’m gone, even if I’m on vacation, because I realized my culture was struggling and my team wasn’t bought into it, and that we weren’t focusing on that. And then I’ve had other offices that are… We just set it up. They forget that they used to like to hang out together, and so we set it up.

Kiera Dent:
There’s four departments in a practice. You have your front office, you’ve got your dental assistants, your hygienists and your doctors. There are, happenstance, four quarters in here as well. So we’ve been setting it up to setting fun activities that each department is over per quarter. So maybe Q1 is dental assistants, Q2 is hygiene, Q3 is front office, Q4 is doctor. And what you do is, you have it set on the schedule, and I don’t care what the activity is. Some people have done paint and wine nights in the practice, some people did a hot chocolate bar with tons of different toppings around the holidays, other people did a gingerbread building contest, other people have done like going ice skating, some people have gone to the movies together, they’ve gone to… They’ve done competitions where the winner got a staycation, people have done whale watching as a team. There are so many things I’ve heard.

Kiera Dent:
And they give a budget, so maybe it’s $500 or maybe it’s $100, it does not have to be expensive. But just think of the ROI of, even if it was $100 every quarter, that gets your whole team to bond together. You can close your patients off an hour early, you can continue it on, but I really feel like that morale, it doesn’t have to be down in the dumps. I think it just needs to be something that is super focused on and brought to light consistently, and have a set structure. Also, doing one-on-one check-ins with each team member and see how they’re doing as people, not just as employees, have been some really great ways to boost that morale, even through the, quote on quote, COVID-crank where we’re tired.

Matt Mulcock:
Hey, Ryan, tell me, what happens during our consultation?

Ryan Isaac:
It’s a great question, Matt. The first thing we like to do is just get to know more about you and your practice. What are your career goals, what are you doing in your practice, in your business? What kind of big decisions are you making in your personal financial life? Then we talk about how hiring a comprehensive, fiduciary, dental-specific financial advisor can help you make better financial decisions in the future, help you grow your net worth, get more organized, and get more peace of mind around your financial situation.

Matt Mulcock:
So you’re telling me it’s that easy and painless?

Ryan Isaac:
I am telling you it is that easy and totally painless. Exactly, Matt. Just go to dentistadvisors.com, click the “book free consultation” button. Do it right now and talk to a friendly advisor today.

Ryan Isaac:
In our team, a couple years ago, it was during a period of pretty fast growth in our company, and we were merging kind of two divisions of our company that have since split into their own thing, but we, as a group, read a book that… When you get your team to read a book it’s like, “Okay, cool, there might be a few applicable things,” but if it’s a good book with really good principles, over time you look back and you’re like, “Oh, this is a big deal.” So there’s this book called, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Have you ever read this or heard about this?

Kiera Dent:
So good. Yep, Reese Harper. That’s another Reese Harper recommendation.

Ryan Isaac:
Oh, Reese got you to do this?

Kiera Dent:
Reese really did.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay. Did you go through it with your team, or just you, or what?

Kiera Dent:
Mm-hmm.

Ryan Isaac:
You did?

Kiera Dent:
I have gone through it with my team, yes.

Ryan Isaac:
So I wanna just read the five dysfunctions of a team, the five core dysfunctions, and then you tell me, are you seeing these in dental teams and how does this get fixed? Number one’s absence of trust, which yeah big time, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. So as I hear the story you’re telling about… What did you say? Forgetting that, forgetting why they’re a team or forgetting how to have fun as a team?

Kiera Dent:
Yeah.

Ryan Isaac:
I’m like, “Yeah, that’s so true,” and that takes down trust a lot, and when you don’t trust each other as a team, then you’re not committed to the results. You’re not committed to be accountable to things. When you don’t trust each other, it’s really hard to have tough conversations. This is something in a team all the time. How do you give feedback to a team member without being… Without personal attacks, without being offensive, without someone being upset about it. How do you give and receive feedback? So I’m just curious, out of these, these points, how do these apply to what you’re seeing out there?

Kiera Dent:
Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because since Reese actually gave me that book, I have used it in so many practices.

Ryan Isaac:
Really? Okay.

Kiera Dent:
A lot of the morale issues are just not saying what we need to say, and our fuses are a lot shorter, and so people snap at each other. Well, that absence of trust, and I explained it, “It’s not that I trust you not to steal out of my locker and take my lip gloss,” that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s that, I trust you that I can have an opposing opinion to you and I can be vulnerable, and then we’re gonna be able to have healthy conflict or discussion, to where then, at the end of it, we’re all going to agree on it, which is going to create that accountability. And so, when we don’t have that, that struggles. And I would say a lot of offices have lost that trust. We’ve lost how to have those uncomfortable conversations. ‘Cause I think our fuses are so short that it’s, or that we’ve just been dealing with this for so long that we’ve lost the trust that things could ever change. I was in an office, not too long ago. And they said, “Kiera, this is great. You taught us how to have hard conversations. But at the end of the day, I don’t trust that if I say something to this team member, anything will actually change. So I’m just biding my time until another job comes along and I can leave.” And I thought…

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, and that’s like, dude, that’s dead in the water right there.

Kiera Dent:
Dead. And as a consultant, I’m always like, “Oh shoot, I gotta figure out how to like keep a team together.” I don’t wanna revisit my, I think my third office of my career where the whole team quit, ’cause they were all embezzling. I found out later, but as a consultant, I was like, “Wow, that was a moment.” But with this I think I found that if you can… I agree with you, Ryan, if you guys can read books and I would be very selective of the books I read, this is a fantastic book, especially for leadership teams. Other ones are like Energy Bus if you’re having rough energy, Crucial Conversations is another great book. There’s so many great leadership books out there that can help grow a team together. But ironically, when you start to have these book discussions and it can be… Atomic Habits is another book, an office bought and they bought the book for all their team.

Kiera Dent:
And then at their Wednesday team meetings, they would just have a quick book highlight and everybody would have to share something that they learned from the book. But back to the five dysfunctions, the trust within team members, the trust to be able to say what needs to be said is going to alleviate the drama and the stress and the frustration. Because, you know, if something’s bothering you or there’s a problem, we can say it, we can conflict back and forth or have a healthy discussion around it to where we’re like, “Yep, solid. This is how we’re going to move on.” And it’s no longer an emotional battle. It’s more of a let’s solve the problem and move forward. That gives teams so much, I would say mental space because they’re not sitting there constantly walking on eggshells, wondering what’s gonna happen. Is this going to work out?

Kiera Dent:
Is this not going to work out? I don’t wanna say anything. I might as well just look for another job. I’m really big on if we’re going to have uncomfortable conversations that we first identify what the outcome is, why are we even bringing this up? It’s not to vent and hash because that’s not gonna solve anything. It’s, “Hey, our schedule is down. Let’s actually bring this up. Let’s talk about some of the reasons why with no blame and then let’s create a solution for it.” Now, if there’s something personal that needs to be done, yes, I think surveys. I’m a big proponent of surveys every year. We do ours twice a year. I learned not to do them right before a quarterly meeting because I didn’t wanna read that and then try and go be pep rally on a team meeting. So strategically do this, so you have some time to process it. So I purposely do mine in May and November. That way it’s a good mid-year and an end of year check for me and I literally…

Ryan Isaac:
What does your survey say? What is it? What’s the survey?

Kiera Dent:
Man I changed it up.

Ryan Isaac:
Did you make it and is it a software? Okay.

Kiera Dent:
I did make it, I do it through Typeform. And it’s completely anonymous so there’s no needs attached to it. We also have done this for quite a few different offices ’cause we’re a totally neutral party. So people will feel more comfortable. You can do a wide range and I’ve changed up. So I usually will ask for feedback on me as a leader and I want them to give me things that they really like and not just a number, but actual specifics of me with my leadership of where I do well and where I can improve. Like my heart is pounding, even saying that and knowing it’s like, “Oh, I got two more months before mine’s coming at me.” But if I don’t ask those questions, I can never grow and improve. And if they really will give me this 360 degree awareness, it will help out.

Kiera Dent:
Well, my team got really good at giving me hard feedback, but they were never really getting good at taking it. So then I switched it up and I put every person’s name on this survey and had them give each other feedback. Now my team’s a team of eight. So if you’ve got a practice of 50, that probably wouldn’t work super well that the survey would take quite a while. So then you can start to clump it into clusters or at that point you probably will have a leadership team. So asking questions about the leadership team, also asking them questions like for me, I’m really concerned about them feeling like I am invested in their future and that we’re giving them opportunities to grow. I also ask the uncomfortable question of if you were offered a two or five or whatever dollar raise, from somewhere else, would you take it?

Kiera Dent:
I hate that question, but I love that question because it helps me see, is my team bought in or are they looking elsewhere for other jobs? I asked the question of if you had a friend, would you recommend them to come here? In dental practices, I asked them if you had friends or family, would you recommend the dentistry that’s done here? And I list off all of my providers. Those types of questions are super key and paramount because I wanna find out, do they feel like they have opportunities for growth? Do they trust our dentistry here? You can even ask the question of, do you feel like your opinions and values are appreciated? There’s so many questions out there, but I would say if nothing else try at least one of them. I had an office and we did it every quarter.

Kiera Dent:
This office was losing team member after team member, after team member. And it was due to one of the leaders in the practice and this leader wasn’t willing to accept that it was due to this person. So I decided to do a Hail Mary and I was like, “That’s it, we’re gonna do a every quarter survey.” And this leader saw that on a scale of one to five, this person was getting a 1.5 out of five when we averaged it out. And that was one of the hardest conversations that I’ve ever had to face. However, I will say over the course of three more quarters [chuckle], this leader was able to go from a 1.5 up to a three out of five.

Ryan Isaac:
So they took it and they changed. They didn’t just bounce or keep firing people?

Kiera Dent:
Yeah [chuckle]

Ryan Isaac:
They changed, wow.

Kiera Dent:
They did. I actually like this story because we went from a 1.5 to a three out of five, which I wanted to share an example. This wasn’t a person who flipped around and got to a five outta five. I wanted to show that this is a slow burn that doesn’t happen. And like you said, oh, I hated those survey calls ’cause I was like, “Okay, here we go. I have to sit here and read through these with you. And I’m the person who’s putting you through this.” However I knew…

Ryan Isaac:
But they wanted to, they were so invested clearly. They wanted to fix it.

Kiera Dent:
I knew if I didn’t, I was going to lose a partner in the practice and the practice would dissolve and the entire practice was at jeopardy of losing key players. So to me I’m like, well, as a consultant, you gotta sometimes do… Not sometimes all the day time. I’m like, “Why do I do my job?” I don’t know. People hate me when I come in, they love me when I leave, people don’t wanna hear what I’ve gotta say and I’ve gotta say the things that no one wants to say.

Ryan Isaac:
So dentists feel. So the dentist feels the same way. No one wants to see us, we hurt people, we’re expensive, but it’s necessary.

Kiera Dent:
It is. So what I would suggest on those is one, make sure you have a little bit of space to process through what your team has told you. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that it does come sometimes with a sting. Also my second piece of advice is, don’t try and figure out who said it, so many people are like, I wonder who said this and doesn’t like me.

Ryan Isaac:
Yeah, ’cause you want to know, you just wanna dig.

Kiera Dent:
You do. But I would say, and this is coming from the book Raving Fans, and it’s one of the things that I have tried hard to embody throughout my career, as they said, the worst thing that can happen to a business is when people stop giving you feedback, because they’ve lost confidence that you can change. If they’re willing to give you feedback, they have trust and confidence that you will change, and so I’ve had to really look at this and think, okay, Kiera, if they didn’t have confidence that you could change, they wouldn’t have said this. They would have just not even given you any feedback. So while that’s hard to accept, realize that your team does have confidence in you, that something can change if they say something. Now, yes, some people are like, “Honestly, I don’t care if you tell me I was the worst boss in my life because I don’t really love you as a team member” and there are some team members that you might feel that way, so there are some surveys, feedback.

Kiera Dent:
What I’ve had to tell people is, I don’t care who you think you are as a boss, reality is what your team is seeing, so you gotta take what they’re seeing and fix it. So with this owner that I was sharing. What we did was we picked one thing from all the survey, because there were like 100 things we could have fixed, but if we try to fix everything, it wasn’t going to work, so I applied the principles of the one thing or essentialism of this quarter, I want you to laser focus in on the one thing that’s going to drive these results to get better, number one. And the number one thing was this team did not feel appreciated by this owner, and so we decided we actually put an alarm on this owner’s phone, and it was a compliment alarm, and so every day the owner had to go give somebody a genuine compliment of something good they were doing. For me, that was a two-fold mission. One, the team would see immediate results, but two, it would get this doctor to focus on the things going well versus the things going wrong. It’s definitely gonna pivot their perspective of the practice as well, and so with that done, the practice was able to start to see it. On the next one, this doctor was noticed as being the raving fan of all the team members, so just in that small little shift. This doctor was able to get massive raving fans because they started focusing on what the team was needing.

Kiera Dent:
So instead of going around trying to figure it out, look to see what’s going on in those… Of what the number one thing is that could move the needle forward the most in one quarter and focus on that. I like on podcast to not just share ideas, but to give you tangibles of where you can start, so if you’re really struggling or even if you’re not struggling, like I don’t think you should go to therapy when your marriage is on the line, like maybe do it a little bit before then. So even if your practice is doing well, maybe think about some of these things, maybe read some of these books, because I feel like when you have a team that has tools to be empowered to be great communicators, you tend to get that. Also as a leader, make sure you’re setting that example. If you knit pick and you talk shady about your team members, even if you’re venting to another team member, realize you’re setting the tone of what the rest of your team can follow suit. Check yourself as a leader as well, ’cause your team’s following you.

Ryan Isaac:
Thanks for spending some time. Where can people find you and the glorious Dental-A Team?

Kiera Dent:
Well, thank you. It’s always fun to chat with you, Ryan. You and I could literally go on forever, so thank you. Guys…

Ryan Isaac:
We gotta cut it off at some point.

Kiera Dent:
I hope everybody was able to take something from here, and if we can ever be a value add, and we focus on teams, that’s our jam and giving you guys these tools and resources. So you can check us out, we have a podcast as well, it’s the Dental-A Team podcast, or you can also email me any time, Hello@thedentalateam.com. We’re super cool, like the Home Depot, so it’s the hello@thedental…

Ryan Isaac:
The Ohio State, the Home Depot, the Dental-A Team.

Kiera Dent:
Exactly. So anyway, we can help out. I’d be happy to.

Ryan Isaac:
Awesome.

Kiera Dent:
Even if it’s just a question, so reach out.

Ryan Isaac:
And you, real fast, you have an annual event coming up, do you wanna talk about that at all, but we’re recording this in, what month is it? March 2022. So I don’t know when this comes out, but when is your event? When is that happening?

Kiera Dent:
Totally, I appreciate that intent. So we have a virtual team summit. The reason we do it virtual is for two reasons, One, so you can implement in your practice, and two, I know as a business owner, it’s kind of expensive to fly my whole team to see the event and get them all ramped up and amped up. So it’s on April 22nd and 23rd. April 22nd is Friday, it’s team day, so it’s everything for team and we’re teaching you guys how to optimize your practice this year. So a little small fine-tuning that the whole practice can do to really maximize and elevate your practice, and then Saturday is all things leadership. So we have a jam-packed speaker house. Ryan’s coming in, everybody on Saturday is speaking on how to be an exemplary leader and optimize as a leader within those different areas of financial marketing.

Kiera Dent:
We also have like… We are having Lewis Chen who has 12 practices in two years, of just what they do, the secrets of leadership is what Saturday will be. So April 22nd to 23rd, You guys can definitely put in the coupon code, Dentist Advisors. Head on over to thedentalateam.com, click on virtual summit, it’s one ticket for your entire team, I don’t want it to be per team member, so one ticket for your whole team. I don’t care if you’ve got five team members or 55 team members, bring your team. We can’t wait to help you guys. So April 22nd, 23rd. Hello… Or just thedentalateam.com coupon code: Dentist advisors.

Ryan Isaac:
Okay, thank you, Kiera. Thank you, Dental-A Team. Thank you, listeners, for being here. Kiera, have a great week and everyone we’ll catch you next time on another episode, of The Dentist Money Show. Thanks, Kiera. Bye-bye, everybody.

Kiera Dent:
Thank you. Bye.

Behavioral Finance

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