When I was asked to be a speaker at the South African Dental Association this year it was very exciting and very scary at the same time. What would I talk about? They don’t have the choices in practice management software like we do here or the technology that we so much take for granted. They do, however have the same issues we have with people, missed appointments and helping patients afford optimum care. Before I left for South Africa I reached out to several vendors to see if they provide services in that area and came up empty on all fronts.
I reached out to my friend, and fellow Dentrix user, Betty whose dental practice is in West Africa to ask her some questions before I built my presentation. She was very helpful in providing insight into some of the pain points in Africa. My topic was practice management and systems, but I had to tweak it a little bit so I didn’t focus so heavily on software. This was going to be a challenge for me. My goal was to bring some new ideas in teamwork, verbal skills and systems.
Before we can start working on verbal skills and systems we looked at the foundation of the practice. The foundation of a dental practice starts with the core values of the doctor and the team who then build those core values into a practice mission statement. I love this part of the conversation because we get to talk about the “Why” and I always reference back to Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why”. During the presentation I have the attendees break into groups and look up the office website to search for the office mission statement and share with the group. It is amazing how many people either do not have a mission statement or cannot find it on the office website.
The office mission statement helps the team get on the same page and create better verbal skills based off the mission statement. I would like to see the mission statement prominently displayed in the reception room, office break room and used in everyday conversation. It helps motivate and inspire the team. Once we have the mission statement written and the team onboard then you can use words and phrases directly from the mission statement when talking to patients about treatment and scheduling.
The people bring the mission statement to life. It’s the people that use the mission statement to motivate patients to stay on track with preventative care and understand the treatment plan the doctor has just presented. It’s the people who make sure the insurance claims are paid on time and the bathroom is stocked with toilet paper. It is also the people who come to work everyday with different personalities which can cause drama, stress and fights within the practice.
One of my favorite personality testing programs is called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and I love one of the quotes I found on their website . . . “I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you.” We all have different personalities which make us unique and each of us bring a different element to make the practice whole. This is true for every practice I work with and it was true with the dental teams I met in South Africa.
When I present to teams here in the U.S. and when I was in South Africa, I want to open their eyes to personality testing for the team because we have to bring the people together before we can work on systems. When I started in a dental practice it was difficult for me to have conversations with my teammates without pissing them off. I found out I am a high “D” on the DiSC scale which helped me talk to my teammates in a much more constructive way. It also helped my team understand how to have a more constructive conversation with me. It was eye opening.
It was fun working with people from another country and seeing that we all have many of the same challenges. Even though the practice management systems we talked about had to be scaled back to meet the technology limitations they have and the infrastructure differences, they embraced the new ideas for communicating with patients and each other.