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How to Turn Your Employees into Teammates – Episode 207


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How do you eliminate negative influences that can be part of almost any team? 

Trying to create an exceptional team—one with positive energy and enthusiasm? On this episode of the Dentist Money™ Show, Reese and Ryan discuss typical organizational dysfunctions that may be keeping your employees from working together as a unit.

Can the well-oiled office of your dreams actually become reality? Reese and Ryan introduce five flaws that often sabotage teams that need to work closely together. And knowing the right solution for each flaw is a must for any organization.

Podcast Transcript:

Ryan Isaac: Hey Dentist Money show listeners. Guess what? This is Ryan. Thanks for joining us today. Today is a special, thankful, gratitude filled episode about teams. Teams are probably the most frustrating thing about a business, but also the most rewarding and really the reason a business succeeds or fails. So today Reese and I talk about the top five dysfunctions of a team. Five questions to ask yourself also, on how well your team is doing and functioning, and what you can do about some of these dysfunctions. We talk about a famous book that was written about it, and a lot of cool discussions on how to improve probably the most impactful meaningful part of your business and your entire life. So thanks again for joining us. We really appreciate the love and support.
If you’d like to have a chat with us, go to our website at dentistadvisors.com. Click on the book free consultation link and schedule a time to talk to one of our advisors. Join us in our Facebook group, dentistadvisors.com/group go ahead and post some questions in there. We go in ourselves and answer questions all the time, or come meet us at one of our events, we’re around the country two to three times a month. And you can check out the events coming up on dentistadvisors.com/events. As always, you can call or text us at 833 DDS plan. Seriously, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it. Enjoy the show.
Speaker: Consultant 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.
Speaker: This is dentist money. Now, here’s your host, Reese Harper.
Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money show where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host Reese Harper here with my trusty old co-host, sir Ryan Isaac.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, good to be back on the show among friends and scholars. You’re the scholar.
Reese Harper: It’s sad I’m your only friend, but we all know that’s true.
Ryan Isaac: It is true, it’s not sad you’re a good friend.
Reese Harper: Once a week the friends unit.
Ryan Isaac: Once a week [crosstalk 00:02:01].
Reese Harper: We’re each others friend.
Ryan Isaac: I’m grateful.
Reese Harper: So when you say among friends, that’s needed to clarify that among friend.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah. It’s good to be back among friend, that’s something there. Well, this episode is airing in one of the best holidays ever, which is a holiday where we just get together and eat tons and tons of food.
Reese Harper: On Valentines day?
Ryan Isaac: That’s your favorite holiday. Valentines is definitely-
Reese Harper: St. Patrick’s Day.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, you love a good St. Patty’s parade.
Reese Harper: Okay, fine. For those of you who know, we’re not actually that bad with our editor… We’re not that far ahead of our editorial calendar. It is-
Ryan Isaac: You’re recording this in the spring for the spring of 2020. Yeah, it’s Thanksgiving.
Reese Harper: This is November, and it’s time to celebrate that Christmas present over the thanksgiving.
Ryan Isaac: Have you ever caught and killed your own turkey before? I feel like that’s something you might have done in your life.
Reese Harper: Oh, yeah.
Ryan Isaac: Oh, you have?
Reese Harper: Yeah, I mean one does shoot it like a buckshot.
Ryan Isaac: Really? Okay.
Reese Harper: Yeah, I did it up in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Ryan Isaac: Okay.
Reese Harper: My cousin Jake.
Ryan Isaac: Caught your own Turkey. This year I’m going to go a little bit… I’ve been saying this for the last few years I appreciate the turkey, I think the turkey is a strong bird, and it’s done well for our world. But this year I’m going to go like ribs and brisket, and just some other meats, some other beefs basically, we’re going to bring the cow into this.
Reese Harper: The pilgrims probably had all types of meat, if you’ve really think about it. Thanksgiving is the celebration of the collision of two worlds and beef was a major part of that culture.
Ryan Isaac: I’m going beef this year, I got the traeger.
Reese Harper: Equine, as they say.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah. If anyone-
Reese Harper: No, that’s not it, I think equine is horses.
Ryan Isaac: Equine is horse, which they might have also eaten I don’t know. I don’t know.
Reese Harper: We don’t know as much apparently about livestock as we thought.
Ryan Isaac: We have no idea. Reese, I don’t know. Yeah, anyway, it’s-
Reese Harper: I should know.
Ryan Isaac: You should know, farm boy. Yeah, it’s Thanksgiving week and to kick off the show today we’re going to be talking about one big subject, we’re both like really grateful for even talking about this a little bit lately, you gave a presentation on this subject in Vegas, the TVSE. Little shout out to TVSE.
Reese Harper: Shout out to Rich and Dave, and Matt our brothers, living the dream. Did you know that Dave Maddow just moved up here to Salt Lake City so he could ski more? Anyway, shout out to them. But yeah, this topic that I just discussed at TBSC is about how to build the best team you possibly can. More specifically some major challenges that teams go through. I think to a small degree, anything we talk about today will apply to anyone who manages a team of any size, or anyone who interacts on a team, or is a member of a team at work.
Ryan Isaac: So everybody. Very inclusive subject.
Reese Harper: If you’re not on a team, then it applies to your relationships with a spouse, or girlfriend, or boyfriend, or children, and family members.
Ryan Isaac: And friend.
Reese Harper: Or I would say, I mean let’s draw the line there. The friend relationship-
Ryan Isaac: It’s different.
Reese Harper: Most friends, you don’t need to like grow closer together, or improve your functional relationship with friends that much. With your friends, you don’t want to try hard, right? With friends you’re just like, I’m not trying to get better around you necessarily. I guess I’m passing the time and I don’t even need to work hard at it.
Ryan Isaac: My brain shut off when I’m around.
Reese Harper: But anyway, for all relationships that are important to yourself development, career development, life development. I’m not saying friends or not, but I just think there’s a different lens to friends. So I had to draw the line in case-
Ryan Isaac: That’s all right.
Reese Harper: It’s not like all inclusive, there are some limits.
Ryan Isaac: I’m like the friend. All right, we’ll draw the line at my friend. All right, so before we kick it off, I mean, the point of today’s show is, it’s going to be based a lot around a book that you read recently that we’re reading as a team called the Five Dysfunctions of a team by… I don’t know if I’m going to say his name right, it’s Patrick Lencioni. Is that how you say it?
Reese Harper: Yeah.
Ryan Isaac: Okay.
Reese Harper: I’m sure he’d be proud of that.
Ryan Isaac: I read a book of his called Death by Meeting years ago, like long time ago so I’m glad we moved on from that, but before we jump into that, these five areas of a dysfunctional team and how to improve them. They’re really fascinating and there’s like really actionable takeaways from that. But I’m just kind of curious like give us… maybe reminisce a little bit we’re on the Thanksgiving topic. And we’re really thankful for this growing team and all these really smart capable people we have at the firm now, like maybe just recollect a little bit on where it began and kind of how it’s grown. And man, I think the team probably tripled in the last two years in our company, maybe the last three years. It’s gotten [crosstalk 00:07:26] so fast.
Reese Harper: Yeah, well, you used to be the team.
Ryan Isaac: I used to be the team, I used to be the friend and the team.
Reese Harper: And I wasn’t even on the team, it was just you.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, it was just me that was it.
Reese Harper: I was like dude you manage this team. You’re in charge of the team. And you’re like, dude, but I’m the only one and I was like, well-
Ryan Isaac: What team? The team.
Reese Harper: Just be the team dude. I’m not the manager you are dude, I was the first co-founder, you’re the second co founder, so that means that you’ve got to manage yourself for a while.
Ryan Isaac: I was the team. I tried hard. I tried to do that.
Reese Harper: I mean, one thing that I hope everyone’s grateful for this time of year is how important each person’s contributions really are on a team. What you don’t often get a chance to share with each team member is how critical their contributions really are the smallest contributions that sometimes keep a business functioning. Everyone wants to be their best selves and rise up to a job that fits their personal skill set, competency level, experience. And it’s just nice to be on a team where you do fit in, and you’re adding value. And I think it’s really important that team members can kind of have an appreciation and recognition that everyone on the team makes it possible for everyone else to do their job regardless of the status or their title, their compensation level, their tenure on the company.
I’m just really appreciative for each team member because when one thing breaks down, a small thing, when one team member is absent for a week or out of town, I mean, you really notice it in a professional company, a small company, a small business you really notice it. Lately, I’ve just seen how many amazing things have happened in our business due to small contributions of each person, and it’s gratifying to see that and you’re really grateful for those contributions. So I think Thanksgiving this time of year, one of the things I’m grateful for is a really high functioning team, that it’s really hard to build that and get it to where it’s working well. And you definitely, a lot of you probably don’t have that right now, and might be struggling to feel like your team is highly functional. And maybe you have a few team members that are doing great, but there’re some challenges in your team that are pushing you in a different direction.
So I think the point of… I’d like to get your thoughts on it lately too, though, what have you been [crosstalk 00:10:11]?
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, no, especially over the last couple of years, as we’ve grown a lot more. It’s kind of amazing to me, anyone who’s been around in a company early on, even when you have smart capable people who are willing to sacrifice, and work hard, and put in a lot of time and effort, there’s just a limitation to how many jobs one person can do well. Even if you have really smart people around and to me, it’s just been really eye opening to see how much better certain jobs can be performed when you have an expert in charge of that job. When you’re able to hire like, the marketing person, or the events person, or in our case, the podcast person or the developer or… I mean, we have all these people on our team that are so smart and so competent and capable, dedicated to very specific things that five years ago, 10 years ago, they were kind of just wrapped up high level and just scratching the surface on a whole bunch of jobs between three people.
And having seen that evolution for me, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in our business. And I think in any business people relate to that as just when you’re able to hire competent people who care a lot about what they’re doing, just how much better those areas get. And how much better the overall business becomes because of it.
Reese Harper: What caused us to kind of focus on this book right now as a team is just as we continue to grow and we’re not a massive organization, but I don’t have time now to control the culture. And Ryan doesn’t have time to control the culture, and sit down and get to know everyone and spend the time that we’d want to get to know people on a deeper level. Because man on small teams the doctor can essentially correct a lot of the culture challenges just by spending more time with each individual team member for a while. Today our focus is going to be primarily on the five things that cause dysfunction in your teams we’ll try to hit all of them as briefly as we can. And I think it’ll just be a good reminder, you guys could obviously go get the book from Patrick Lencioni. Some of these insights that me and Ryan will share today are personal in our own experience and some of them are based on this book.
It’s a fable or a fictional story about a manager that’s over a team and a new manager is brought in to take a team that’s highly dysfunctional, try to fix it, and then move on to exceeding and achieving their goals. And I think it has a lot of applicability to small business.
Ryan Isaac: Okay, so let’s take a break right there. When we come back, we’re going to kick off these five main dysfunctions of a team. And I’m going to start it with five questions to ask about your team that Patrick gives in the book. So we’ll do that when we come right back.
Matt Mulcock: Hey, Dentist Money show listeners, it’s Matt Mulcock with Dentists advisors. I want to invite you to join Ryan Isaac and me for a monthly webinar series where we tackle one of the elements topics each and every month, it’s going to feel a lot like the Dentist Money show, but you’ll have the ability to ask questions, answer live polls, and get a behind the scenes look at how we work with clients. You can sign up for free at dentistadvisors.com/webinar. Hope to see you there.
Ryan Isaac: And we’re back. Okay, so in the book, the author Patrick, he gives… I say that like I know him. Can I say that or should I say like Mr. Lencioni?
Reese Harper: He’s a dear friend, yeah you can.
Ryan Isaac: I don’t know what he would prefer.
Reese Harper: Yeah, I think Patty B.
Ryan Isaac: Patty L., PL? I don’t know, there’re these five kind of main questions to… these are just like a quick test to see how you feel the health of your team is going and I’ll just read these really quick here, and then we’ll get into the five main dysfunctions that he talks about. These questions are yes or no questions, and he says that, if you answer yes to all five, you’re running a pretty killer team. And if you answer no to any of them, which most people will then there’s just room to keep growing and improving, which is probably how everyone should feel. There’s always room to fix and change and improve.
Reese Harper: And probably how he’s crafted the questions make it impossible to feel good about all five is my guess.
Ryan Isaac: I answered yes to all of them. But that was just thinking about the team of one, this is 11 years ago. When it was just me managing me as the team is good. Question number one, do your team members openly and readily disclose their opinions? We’re going to get into this, this is actually one of the things we’re going to talk about, but that one is really fascinating. Number two, are your team meetings compelling and productive? Number three, does your team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus? Number four, do your team members confront one another about their shortcomings? Drama alert. Number five, do your team members sacrifice their own interest for the good of the team? So again, those are five questions to ask, yes or no questions and on the no places then maybe those are the first places you focus.
Reese Harper: One of those are kind of confusing the one about consensus re-read the consensus one I want to explain that to [crosstalk 00:15:30].
Ryan Isaac: Yeah. And that’s actually going to apply to number three, dysfunction number three I’m going to talk about-
Reese Harper: Okay, maybe we’ll talk about it. We’ll define… the point of that is-
Ryan Isaac: I’ll re-read it again. Does your team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus?
Reese Harper: Consensus being the desire that people generally have for everyone to agree.
Ryan Isaac: Every person to agree. Yeah, 20/20.
Reese Harper: Which is possible in an organization, and you shouldn’t try to get consensus that’s not the goal.
Ryan Isaac: We just did this exercise before we started, before we hit record. You show me the-
Reese Harper: Yeah, me and Ryan have had a couple of things, I’ve said, hey, this is the thing we’re going with. And Ryan said, I feel this way and I’d be like, well 19 other people felt differently than you. And so we have general agreement, we don’t have consensus. I mean, I would like to have my friend be in agreement, but that’s not the objective, right?
Ryan Isaac: Not today. Okay.
Reese Harper: So let’s talk about these five.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, so dysfunction number one and I’m pretty sure they’re listed… They’re supposed to compound on each other, so by the time you get to number five, you’re in a better position to do number five or fix number five, if one through four are taken care of. So dysfunction number one of a team is the absence of trust.
Reese Harper: Yeah. What do you understand that to me?
Ryan Isaac: Well, there’s kind of like some characteristics of a team that has like an absence of trust. Somethings that have stood out to me, and… I mean, I think we’ve all been on teams or have seen little pieces of our own maybe current teams where this happens. But this is where people are like reluctant to be vulnerable with each other, like not willing to admit a mistake or a weakness, people won’t ask for help. And people spend more time trying to be like defensive about their position rather than maybe open or learning, and this goes back to the question about… oh, this is question number one, do your team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?
Reese Harper: Yeah, I think that’s the critical issue. There’s a thing called psychological fear that a lot of consultants try to test for in organizations, which is… Because people naturally feel like they have a tendency to want to be right.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, it’s human nature.
Reese Harper: To assume that they’re capable and that they don’t need correction, right? When your spouse or a friend, or one of your kids tells you something, in my case that you’re doing wrong, you’re not like super open to getting feedback sometimes, especially for the bottom up. Like, Dad, why are you making me do the dishes and you’re watching football? I’m like just I’m your dad, get back to work.
Ryan Isaac: You said don’t be sarcastic with each other, and I’m like, always sarcastic.
Reese Harper: Yeah. So it’s really, really important that people in your team can feel like they can share their concerns, their weaknesses. That it’s a safe place to work, and that there isn’t anything off limits. You don’t want them feeling like, hey, this is a dumb question, but I just need to ask it. Like you want to create an environment where you’re encouraging people to be able to express concerns. It’s really not just about being open, it’s about are they comfortable sharing their opinions about what they’re observing in the way you’re doing business and the work environment? Like, are your philosophies so rigid and are you so opinionated that you crowd out your employees’ feelings about how to change the organization-
Ryan Isaac: What is…
Reese Harper: Go ahead.
Ryan Isaac: No, finish your thought.
Reese Harper: I’m just saying if you don’t allow people to speak up when they see things that can be changed or improved your organization will not grow or develop as quickly. You need that feedback from your team in order to know that you’re heading in the positive direction that you want to go in.
Ryan Isaac: So what you were just saying reminds me of… I know it’s a famous saying, but I hear one of our team members say it a lot. One of our developers, Dave, shout out to D-wise.
Reese Harper: D-wise, yeah what does he say?
Ryan Isaac: What does he always say about his opinion strongly held, strongly held opinions, loosely held?
Reese Harper: Yeah, he’s got strong opinions, loosely held.
Ryan Isaac: Strong opinions, loosely held. I think there’re variations of that, that have been said, but strong opinions loosely held. What you were saying just reminds me so much of that about having convictions, or a strong opinion based on whatever your experience or evidence was, but having it held loosely enough that someone could change your mind if it’s better for everybody.
Reese Harper: Yeah. I like the word flexibility in our corporate values. One of the things I wrote down when I was putting them together, which you’re probably seen at some point, but I will send them back over to you. So you can check out the things that are mostly in my head. I’m trying to like distribute them more. But I wrote this down around this area, and one of the values that we have as a business I wrote down is flexibility. That’s kind of the word that I used to define this concept that we’re talking about. And I said, customers will often provide us with insight and knowledge that we may not have. We want to listen very carefully and cautiously hold on to our strong beliefs, hoping that customers, team members and other professionals might persuade us to change a practice or a policy.
Like that’s the way I feel about this, you want to be… you cautiously hold on to these opinions you have, you got to have strong opinions or you really don’t have a differentiated process or anything worth buying, right? You probably have something really good about the way you’re doing things. But you want to… you almost are hoping that your team, your customer, your client, your patient, or another professional, or a team member, can persuade you to change something that you’re doing. That’s the way you want to kind of approach this because if someone can, that means it’s probably going to be an improvement on one of your previously held strong beliefs. If you don’t have strong beliefs and everyone can persuade you, then you also have a problem, right? Maybe you’re just not far enough developed in your experience to really have strong opinions, you’re very moldable and changeable.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, it’s actually one of the dysfunctions, yeah lack of commitment or… Yeah, it’s funny you said that and we don’t have time to go into it. But that actually just happened this week from feedback from a client that was just really well thought of questions that came up with the way some data is displayed. And we ended up having a couple hours of conversations about it internally and making an improvement on it for the future.
Reese Harper: Yeah, it’s critical.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah. So I’m just going to say the author, he presents kind of a solution in each of these. A lot of them are really robust, but in this one, he says that this kind of like absence of trust in teams that leads to some of these problems, usually has to be fixed from the top down or like leadership down because that vulnerability or openness has to be demonstrated first by leadership before anyone else is going to be willing to do it. And so this is definitely an area where if anyone finds themselves in a leadership position… and this could be like the lead assistant on a team or you have three front desk people and one of them is kind of more in charge of things than the other two. This doesn’t have to be the owner of the business, but it’s kind of like people in leadership positions, definitely model that behavior first.
Let’s move on dysfunction number two. I think this sounds really fascinating because I think there’s a really fine line with this one between healthy and unhealthy. But dysfunction number two is the fear of conflict. And so they talk about how without this initial trust, you can’t have hard conversations in a team and in a business. And they say, this lack of unfiltered and passionate debate among team members can lead people to just be kind of like conforming and kind of like they call it fake harmony or being passive aggressive and things. But I don’t know, I’d be curious to know your opinions I feel like in 13 years of our team growing there’s definitely been like many uncomfortable conversations like tons of them, all the time. And strong opinions are going back and forth because you’re all just trying to shape the future for the whole team and business, and some of it for your own future, and it could get-
Reese Harper: Well, I think the critical issue here is you need to be able to feel comfortable with conflict as a part of progress in your business. And I think it’s not just like interpersonal bickering, interpersonal backstabbing, gossip like that’s not what we’re talking about here. Like that’s not an admirable quality.
Ryan Isaac: It’s unhealthy conflict.
Reese Harper: But having fear of conflict around critical ideas that is… You don’t want to tell a team member this about themselves because you feel like it’s going to hurt their feelings and then they won’t like you. Like that’s not good, and that happens all the time. It’s important to encourage healthy conflict that conflict is part of progress, and this isn’t interpersonal bickering, it’s critical issues. This is a normal and healthy thing for you to be able to observe things in a business that you think need to be changed, and then as a leader, it’s important to sometimes allow your teams to try to self resolve these conflicts and demonstrate a little bit of restraint as a leader to let your teams go through that on their own. As long as you can feel like it’s not getting too caustic, and too out of control because there’s been a lot of cases in my personal experience where I’ve had people come to me and tell me something that was happening in the business that they were frustrated about or wanted to change.
And they started to talk to me about someone else in the company. And my first response back is, what did they say when you told them this, right? I push back immediately on that and say, did you go talk to this person? Have you discussed this with that person? You’re telling me something about someone and I’m assuming at this point, you tried to resolve it, and weren’t able to resolve it and that’s why you’re coming to me. But usually, the answer is, well, I haven’t talked to them about it or I haven’t brought it up, right? And to me, your first job is to try to encourage people to have healthy and normal conflict with other people on the team. That discomfort is critical, and it’s important to not be the gatekeeper of conflict. You need to allow people to develop healthy conflict resolution skills and talk to each other about things they disagree with and let people know there’s a healthy way… And model that, right?
Model that in a healthy way, you’ve got to uphold people’s dignity, you have to not throw people under the bus when you’re having healthy conflicts, you still have to like validate the good contributions that people are making. Like it’s really hard to do this.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, that’s tough, as you’re saying is-
Reese Harper: It’s really hard to do, man. But it’s really critical.
Ryan Isaac: Well, something you just said I think is what a good phrase for this, which was the conflict gatekeeper. I feel like I hear this from a lot of dentists, a lot of owners, they just feel that way. They feel like they’ve got a team of 15 people and they’re the stopping point for every piece of conflict.
Reese Harper: Yeah, because their teams are afraid to interact.
Ryan Isaac: With each other.
Reese Harper: It happens a lot with your kids, too. If you have kids, your kids will come to you and they’ll say, one of your kids did this and it made them sad or made him mad, and they’re mad at their friend or their brother or sister. Then typically, I used to kind of try to engage and be the conflict gatekeeper.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, until you realize that’s not sustainable, man.
Reese Harper: All I do is I just say, well, I’m sorry that happened. You should talk to him about it and tell him how you feel. And then just like, that’s not my role, and I know that’s a little exaggerated. In some cases, obviously, I’m trying to intervene but… and kids aren’t the same as adults, but I do think that there is a model here that from childhood, a lot of people just develop the skill of like going to the person that they can talk to, and make them feel validated, and they don’t learn how to address the person directly that’s probably like very reasonable.
Most people that bother us they can be persuaded with positive constructive discussion around conflict, and man I just don’t… I get it like I totally get it because I used to not like conflict, but now to me it’s just all about like what’s the fastest path towards progress, the fastest path is like going directly to the person you have conflict with and having a discussion that allows you to kind of share your feelings and share what you feel like the problem is. And the faster you can get the two people talking to each other about that conflict, the faster you’re going to get to resolution.
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Ryan Isaac: I’m going to do three and four together because they really blend together well, and this actually goes back to the question, the five questions I read and you said, hey, what’s that consensus one again? So I’m going to do these together because they’re really hand in hand. Number three, dysfunction number three is a lack of commitment. And this is more a lack of buy in, that’s another good way to think about it. Like how do you get team members to buy in? And then dysfunction number four follows it really closely, which is a lack of accountability. And you can’t really have accountability until you have buy in. So that’s three and four. And they call it commitment, I hear buy in when I read about this without this trust and this healthy discussion and conflict it’s like [crosstalk 00:30:55] for people to… And like commit to decisions like, yeah, we’re going to do this. This is the direction we’re heading, and people can buy in-
Reese Harper: Well, there’s two things that like cause that lack of commitment. Okay, number three is a lack of commitment, and there’s two really main causes of it. One is, we talked about it earlier, everyone has a desire to all be on the same page, a desire for consensus. Meaning like, we all want to be 100% in agreement, like that’s what most team members want. And that’s not actually what you’re trying to do, and most people get caught up between… You can get commitment without consensus, so all you have to do is get people to be able to voice their opinions and be able to contribute and share how they feel and think. And most of your team members aren’t naive enough to think that their ideas are always going to be the ones that are used. They’re smart, and they’re capable-
Ryan Isaac: That might be a red flag if someone thinks [crosstalk 00:31:51] all the time, every time.
Reese Harper: Yeah, but they want to be heard. They want to have a voice in the process, but you’re not going to get 100% consensus. And so the reason that you don’t get commitment is because you’re trying to get consensus and you can’t get consensus, because you’re trying to get everyone to agree but they won’t. All you need to do is really like… Or you’re not even letting them be heard, you’re not even letting everyone voice their opinions there’s not-
Ryan Isaac: And that’s really important you just said that because those are two… And this book makes that very important distinction. There’s a difference between an environment where everyone feels heard and then an environment where nothing happens until there’s absolute consensus. How do you encourage the difference… What is the difference between those two things, and how do you do that?
Reese Harper: Yeah, all you’ve got to do is just ask for people to contribute their ideas around key issues. Those ideas can be through writing, like in our firm, we use Voxer, we use messenger, we use email, we have meetings, you just want to let people like voice things that they… voice an opinion about strategy, voice an opinion about a vendor that you’re going to use, Let’s say you’re going to change vendors, you’re going to let everyone share an opinion on what they think, and you’re going to make a decision. It might be the decision that you make, like no one agrees with, and that may not be a good sign, right? If you’re constantly disagreeing with your team and making your own decision that’s going to cause a challenge. But you need to probably have a general agreement around a concept, and then not 100% consensus. And I just think as long as you’re like asking your team for feedback regularly on key issues, you’re going to be fine.
The other thing that I would want to add to this that causes a lack of commitment, I think it’s really interesting is people have like a need inherently for certainty, like high degrees of certainty in their lives.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, clarity and closure.
Reese Harper: They just want 100% closure on the future, and you cannot give that to them. You don’t need to give that to people for them to actually be committed. All they need to know is that you have a really clear plan of action on where you’re going. And they just have to see that you’re following a clear plan of action, they don’t need to know exactly that you’re going to end up in a certain place. You don’t need to say like your income is going to be this point at that point in time, or you’re going to have this job description at this point in time and this is your title. They’ll want that kind of clarity, but they don’t need it to move forward with commitment. What they need to know is that you have a very clear plan of action that you’re following, and you’ll always do what’s right, and to the best of your ability, you’re going to seek their feedback and their input.
You may not go with everyone’s opinions, because you’re not trying to get to 100% consensus, like we said. So I think the principle here is going in a direction really boldly and consistently, even if you end up switching your plan, okay, is fine. That’s better than waffling and never going anywhere.
Ryan Isaac: Never committing to something.
Reese Harper: People just want really clear and timely decisions. I think the best way you can do this is like sticking to deadlines, make deadlines and actually stick with them. Don’t try to get 100% consensus, I think you can clarify a worst case scenario with people that can help, it won’t get worse than this, or I’m not going to allow this to happen. This is the worst scenario that I see.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I think that’s helpful.
Reese Harper: And then he talks about in the book something called cascading messaging a lot, which is asking people around you at the end of a meeting or after you get done talking to them can you restate back to me what you think I’ve said here? And you’ll be able to tell really quickly if people are on the same page, about the direction you want them to go in their role or the direction that the practice is going to go. Ask for them to restate back to you what they understand.
Ryan Isaac: Okay, we kind of combined these a little bit, but number four was accountability follows really closely on the heels of commitment and buy in.
Reese Harper: Yeah, but does require us to do some different things, it’s like people want to avoid accountability really, this isn’t like a lack of accountability. This is like people wanting to avoid it.
Ryan Isaac: Interesting.
Reese Harper: So this is people just feeling better about not having to respond to things or numbers or like any deadlines. And I think that’s like a human tendency, it’s pretty common. No one really wants to have to be accountable to anything. And so that makes for a very dysfunctional team though, and especially teammates need to hold each other accountable. So this needs to be like each person in the organization needs to have very specific… they call them KPIs, that’s a Key Performance Indicator or they’ll call them OKRs, which is Objectives and Key Results, which we don’t have time to go into today. But the general concept here is every team member needs to have something quantifiable, that helps you measure whether they’re being accountable to their role. It’s really difficult I think on teams when no one really knows what other people’s objective or key result or measurable KPI or activity that they’re supposed to do really is because then it becomes up to the leader or the practice owner, the manager to hold everyone accountable to everything.
Because teams do a really good job of holding each other accountable, if they know what they’re doing.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I was just going to say that.
Reese Harper: And letting people down, dude, you could probably relate to this letting your other teammates down is like the strongest motivator for most people. It’s like I don’t want to let my team down, I don’t want to be that guy or that girl on my team that everyone’s like, they’re not going to do it. I just know they’re going to fail.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, they won’t follow through.
Reese Harper: But anyway, so let’s talk a little bit about the fifth one.
Ryan Isaac: The fifth one. Yeah. And again, they’re all sequential for a reason. The fifth one, to summarize is more like, people being more interested in their own personal outcomes, than the outcomes of the team. It’s inattention to team objectives officially.
Reese Harper: Yeah, I think the way that he writes it in his book he says, inattention to results, like inattention to the actual result. And-
Ryan Isaac: Which is what you were just talking about with accountability.
Reese Harper: Yeah, and these are not just revenue or profitability necessarily, these are the results that you set up with your team, you should be setting some results that help the business move forward, I would say at least on a quarterly basis, if you follow a methodology that this book hints at, or another methodology called OKRs. OKRs are something that Hewlett Packard really came up with, and OKRs are Objectives and Key Results that you kind of set on a quarterly basis and your team kind of works towards those. But there’s a lot of things… Results are like these are quantifiable outcomes, and most people do not want to pay attention to those. They’re willing to spend months on anything, but these results. Even if you quantify these results and put them in front of people-
Ryan Isaac: Why do people do that? I mean, I know it’s human nature because it’s easier.
Reese Harper: It just feels annoying I think. I don’t think people… Well, okay, here’s why.
Ryan Isaac: Is it because people don’t know why? Like it doesn’t matter to the person.
Reese Harper: No, I think it’s just easier to do the other stuff, okay? Like what else is there besides results? What else is there that feels better? One of them is your status on a team. Like how do people think about you, how popular are you on a team? How well recognized are you on a team? These are very scary things that motivate most of us, right? Results are not as motivating as our status on a team or… That’s more of like, how do we look to our team? Another thing that’s motivating is like how well recognized is our team in the industry or in the valley, or… Like what do people think about your work culture? Are you the best place to work? Those are things like your team is recognized as like an awesome team publicly, right? Public affirmation.
Ryan Isaac: And that’s a big thing nowadays with a lot of tech companies [crosstalk 00:40:49].
Reese Harper: Yeah, totally. And I think it’s a big deal in dentistry as well, especially with social media.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, it’s true.
Reese Harper: You want recognition, but that isn’t always results that you want to be driving. So you got this team recognition, you have individual recognition on your team, your individual status. And I think they’re really meaningful things that drive people’s motivation. Wherever the leader in the practice puts the focus for the results, what results you say are important over the next three months, sticking to those time maybe short term compensation to those rewards can also help.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I was going to ask about the role comp in all that.
Reese Harper: You don’t want to oversimplify it and say that everyone’s going to make decisions based on how they get paid. But no one ever… Anyone who took home like a subjective bonus, never really felt great about that. It’s kind of like, I don’t know why I got just paid, but it was nice. It’s more helpful, if you know why. So there’s I think one thing that you can do to help with this, is just be really clear about the results you’re trying to seek for each role and for your entire team. And then make sure that you remind and constantly bring the focus back to those actual results. Yeah, tell us what you think if you’re reading this with us. Yeah, maybe have your teams go through it, and I’d love to hear it on the Dentist Advisors Facebook group, anything you’ve learned or your major takeaways from the book. That’d be really cool.
Ryan Isaac: Great. Yeah, that’s the Facebook group dentistsadvisors.com/group or you can just find it on Facebook. As you talked about teams, I thought a lot about not just like staff team, but a professional team that our clients and other dentists have around them. A lot of people are CPAs, attorneys, consultants, financial advisors, insurance people.
Reese Harper: Of course, man.
Ryan Isaac: It’s a big part of it.
Reese Harper: Think about your family too in this. I mean, these are big factors you’re trying to have your personal relationships move in the right direction, like these same five principles really apply.
Ryan Isaac: Yeah, so go home and have a… what do we call this? Have a healthy conflict discussion in your house tonight.
Reese Harper: I would start with trust, start with just being a little bit more vulnerable, okay? Just be a little bit more vulnerable.
Ryan Isaac: Be vulnerable, listen. All right. That’s the Facebook group though, you can go and check out our website if you want to have a chat with any of our advisors, especially if you’re kind of questioning who’s on your professional team and where are you getting your advice from? And how are you making your decisions and kind of who is on your team that way, just go to our website dentistadvisors.com click on the book free consultation button and schedule something that’s convenient for you. Also, we’re doing events all over the country now, we’re getting out two to three times a month. Shout out to Jenny making that happen. It’s really cool to get out and see people. And so check out the events page. We’d love to see you in person and come to one of the dinners or presentations.
Last night I was at a Ferrari dealership in Denver. It was really cool it was like this Round Table of all different people CPAs and bankers, and then people were just kind of like… they call it speed dating everyone switching tables every 15 minutes, but I found myself sitting between like $2 million worth of cars giving like conservative financial advice. It was so funny, it was pretty cool. So check out the events page at dentistadvisors.com/events. Part of that is a monthly webinar where we go into a lot of detail about each element we’re hitting and the particular one we’re working on that month. So you can find that on the events page. As always, you can call us, text us 833 DDS plan, but we really appreciate everyone for tuning and listening. And thanks for being here.
Reese Harper: Carry on.

Practice Management
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