By |

Stop the Stress! 9 Tips for Increasing Work Happiness

Stop the stress with these tips
Everyone deserves to love what they do and be happy at work. After all, we spend nearly half of our waking hours there! But life has a habit of stressing us out, and then work piles even more obligations onto our teetering pile of To-Dos, Must-Dos, and (eek!) Past-Dues. Sometimes it’s just difficult to feel alert and excited when we arrive at the office each morning.

Unless you already dance into your practice each day, prioritizing and finding small ways to improve your outlook while at work is the most important place to start. Here are some simple tips for conquering stress and increasing your workplace happiness without feeling stressed and miserable about it.

9 Tips to Stop Stressing and Be Happier at Work

Reset your brain. Before you get to work, instead of focusing on everything you have to do today, think about what you like best about your job. Maybe there are particular tasks you enjoy, maybe your team is great to work with or you love interacting with patients, or maybe you’re just thankful your vacation is coming up soon! Finding positive aspects of work life to focus on helps you charge up to face the day.

Look at your own big picture. Daily grind aside, how is your current position contributing to your overall career development? Are you still learning interesting new things and applying them? Are you getting everything you need? Or do you need better resources or more training, whether to stay abreast of new technology, become a stronger manager, build your skills, or reach toward your goals?

Clean up your workspace. I know, I know… there’s no time, but sneak it in anyway. If you’ve got a swamp of papers scattered around so you don’t forget things, make a list of what’s “on” your desk so you can tackle them one by one, then put everything away. Most of us instantly start feeling better and less stressed in a clean environment, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. And while “creative clutter” may have its place in life, teetering piles of paperwork rarely count.

Next, clean out your brain. Jot down everything swimming around in there: what you’re way behind on, what calls need to be made, which employees need to be coached, what you’re worried about. Once you’ve made a mess, use it as the basis for a new list. This time, prioritize. Sure, everything on there is important, but which items can wait another day, and which cannot?

Give yourself the gift of focus. When your project pile could be scaled by mountaineers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially in a world that claims multitasking is always a virtue. But switching off the noise and picking one bite-sized, achievable goal to focus on first can make work feel manageable again. If your most pressing task is huge, cut off a manageable chunk and start there. If you need to, write it down on a post-it to-do list all by itself, and cross it out with great enthusiasm when you finish. Then rinse and repeat!

Don’t let problems fester. Got an issue that’s making you miserable, even when you’re not thinking about it? Maybe there’s an annoying phone call you need to make, or a worrisome employee issue you’ve been putting off addressing (give CEDR a call! We can help you figure out how). As Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” Get your worst nightmare over with early, and you’ll feel better afterward.

Make tiny good habits. Sometimes huge projects feel downright unapproachable – an endless set of patient files that need straightening out, for example, or a backlog of past-due accounts that need re-billing. Instead of thinking of your largest project as a Herculean task that you need to (but can’t) spend a week on, resolve to work on it for 10 minutes and only 10 minutes when you first get to work every morning, or right before you leave. With constant effort but without the pressure, you’ll feel more virtuous, get more done, and sometimes you’ll even keep working a bit longer when you find you’re on a roll.

Take a breather. Getting a handle on your workload may make you feel happier in the “now,” but we also know that proper rest and exercise is just as, if not more, important for increasing health and happiness, and reducing stress. During desk work, make a point of simply standing up more often, or looking beyond your computer screen. And all day long, from taking a moment to breathe more deeply, to getting a brief walk in during breaks, remember that every physical effort you can make is good for your body and your mental health. It’s a chemical fact!

Practice positivity. More and more evidence keeps indicating that how we perceive the world impacts how we feel about it. People who describe themselves as optimists or think of themselves as “lucky” see opportunities that others miss. Plus, happy people are more productive. Challenge yourself to recast obstacles as opportunities, even if it doesn’t come naturally. And pay attention to what motivates you, at work and outside the office, so you can work more of that into your daily routines.

And yes – it’s OK to focus on your own happiness first! Even if you’re in charge of a team, it’s no good preaching positivity and rainbows until you banish the little grey raincloud hovering over your own head.

Ready to get started? Excellent! Go forth and conquer the world. And, while you’re at it…have a great day.

– See more at The Dental Geek >

Read more »

By |

Leveraging the OODA Loop to Create Strategic Advantage

cust-feedback-action

“You have 15 minutes to get your hand off my knee.”

Many years ago, when I was much younger, my first girlfriend offered up this ultimatum on one of our first dates. I thought it was funny back then and it stuck with me, not just because of the humor, but rather because of what made it funny; the overt contradiction in the statement.  Her command of “get your hand off my knee” hardly seemed to line up with the generous amount of time provided for said hand to be removed.  In this case it was meant to be funny, by saying one thing while clearly meaning another. I wonder how often we as leaders (or companies) do the same thing  – but without the humor – that is say one thing, while we actually mean another.

This came to mind as I listened to a friend and successful business owner talk about the importance we place on customer feedback, yet how it so seldom appears to have any affect on those seeking the input. “Your feedback is very important to us” is a refrain we hear often as we are asked to provide input to companies we have worked with, or leaders or staff asking for feedback.  But the question is, do we really want the feedback?  Or is it just an inauthentic marketing ploy to appear interested in the information?

The military has a term for a procedure they call the OODA Loop.  This describes the process of:

  • Observing one’s situation,
  • Orienting with the surroundings and enemy situation,
  • Deciding how to act,
  • taking the Action,
  • and then doing it all again (the loop).

Consciously or not, we all do it, some faster than and better than others.

The military makes a big deal of the OODA Loop because the shorter the loop, the greater your advantage.  After all, your enemy is doing the same thing, and if you can complete your loop – which includes ACTION – before your enemy, they need to start again, because their orientation has changed or they are acting on bad data. Hence, a better (quicker, more informed) OODA loop equals a strategic advantage.

Which brings me back to customer feedback.  In his book Persuadable – How Great Leaders Change their Mind to Change the World, Al Pittampalli suggests that among the companies he studied, the most successful have a notable factor in common. It is NOT the fact they ask for feedback, but rather what they do with the feedback: they act on it – they change their position. I realize this is ridiculously simple, but that is the point. Pittampalli suggests that while the majority of companies (and I would also suggest leaders) say they want feedback to enable change, most don’t act on it – they are not shortening their OODA Loop.

It is a simple concept, yet it is so powerful; if we are willing to ask for feedback, we had better be willing to change accordingly, because the adage is true, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Does your feedback loop (or your company’s) actively seek input? Are you intellectually honest about that which you hear? And the big question – are you committed to change accordingly, based on what you hear and believe to be true?  If so, you will have created a loop that makes you better… and better.

As our OODA Loop improves, so does our competitive advantage. Conversely, as it stays the same, so do we.  According to Pittampalli the big secret is pretty straightforward, change before you have to!  After all, when was the last time you heard someone say,  “You have 15 more attempts to get my order right or I am going to stop doing business with you”?

source: Leveraging Customer Feedback to Create Strategic Advantage

Read more »

By |

Overcoming “I’ll Think About It”

educate-patient

We are living in a volatile economy to say the least. Uncertainty about healthcare, economic woes, the daily grind and other outside stressors are enough to discourage anyone as we try to run successful and productive dental practices. All this being said, it does not sway us in our belief that your patients can and will say yes to treatment. It is up to you to make it possible.

In 2008, a survey conducted by the ADA, Crest & Oral B uncovered some fascinating statistics:

60% of responders said that they suffer from one or more dental issues.

1 in 8 complained that their dental problems were so severe that it often interfered with their daily lives.

33% were unaware that periodontal disease needs to be treated and cannot be left alone.

There was an overwhelming amount of fascinating information in the report.  While it is several years old, the information, we are confident, still holds true or may be even more amplified since the turmoil of the past years. 

Why focus on these three specific statistics? One of the most common issues people share with Jameson advisors when it comes to case acceptance is that they are overcome at their practice with a case of the “I’ll Think About It’s”. How often are you answered with that statement when asking for a commitment to treatment you are recommending? Most likely more than you care to recall.

When our population responds to questions about their dental health in the way they did earlier, there is a drastic issue at hand in our society and our dental care and its priority in our patients’ lives. Yes, you say. That’s a given. The real question is, how do you overcome “I’ll Think About It”?

In a nutshell, here are 3 pointers to get started in overcoming this epidemic that has taken over your practice.

1. Educate. Educate. Educate.

In this same survey, 83% of those surveyed said that their main source of education about their oral health comes from their dentist. Let us never assume that we know how our patient will respond the next time they are sitting in your dental chair. This must be a team approach. If your patient has the need of extensive restorative care, they need to be hearing that not only from you, the dentist, but it needs to be reinforced by the hygienist when they are visiting your practice for a cleaning. Use your cameras and make it a visual experience. People naturally learn and understand more visually, so use the time they are in your chair to SHOW them their dental needs and explain what needs to be done to get them back to a state of health.

It is also important to use internal marketing efforts to educate your patient base and remind them of the need for regular visits to your practice. Companies like Demand Force and Smile Reminder are two examples of stellar services available to our profession to stay in front of your patients, educating them and holding them accountable for their dental health and well-being. In the 21st century, creativity abounds when it comes to ways to reach out to your patients, to get them to confirm and keep appointments, etc. Take advantage of this creativity and let it work to your practice’s advantage.

2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Present the treatment appropriately and effectively. Have serious conversations away from the dental chair. If your patient has a need for restorative work, take them to a private consultation area, sit together at the same level, use a flat screen monitor to show them their teeth, and have a real, uninterrupted conversation about what needs to be done. This is imperative for successful case presentation. The privacy and preparation before the presentation make for a better chance of understanding, a reduction in emotional flooding and a higher chance of the patient saying yes to the treatment.

Keep your patients involved in the conversation. The more they tell YOU what they want or need, the more likely they will buy in to the treatment you are recommending. Use plenty of active listening during this time. For more information on communication skills during case presentation, we highly recommend that you reference Cathy’s book, “Great Communication = Great Production.”

3. Never give up. Never give up.

Never give up. One thing that can make a difference over everything else is your relationship with your patients. It is important to establish a strong and healthy connection with them, to make sure they feel that you and your team truly care for their health and well-being. Many times a patient is overwhelmed when first presented with a large amount of treatment. We must empathize with this distress and give them the opportunity to process it and let their emotions run its course before they can make a comfortable decision. This does not mean that if they say no the first time that we give up and assume it is a no forever. Or even a no for now! Be consistent. Show them their progress every time they visit. If they progress in a positive way – show them before and after photos and celebrate the success – this also communicates to them the great work YOU are doing for them! If they are progressing into a further state of decay and disease, it is imperative that you continue to show them, to educate them and to ask for that YES to treatment.

Make it financially feasible for them. Have patient financing programs ready and available for them in your practice; introduce those programs to them as soon as the concern of money is brought to the table. Present different levels of treatment if money is still an issue and break down the care into more manageable amounts. Sometimes you just need the opportunity to begin to help them see the benefits of the care you are providing.

Make sure you are in communication with the decision maker. If it is not the patient of concern, schedule time where the decision maker can join them for a consultation and be educated on the care needed. You are the expert on the treatment recommended, better for them to hear it from you than from the second hand understanding of the patient.

And as we have said again and again: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. The stronger your relationships with your patients, the more they will trust you, listen to you and ultimately say YES to the care they need.

Read more »

By |

Technology Acquisition, Finance, and Training

tech-mistakes
Dentists are acquiring technology at unprecedented rates for a number of very good reasons.  Primary drivers are the rate advancement of technology itself, coupled with meaningful value that can be delivered relative to legacy technology. Larry Emmott makes the value of training crystal clear in his Ten Most Common Mistakes Dentists Make Using Technology.

I would like to add a few comments about how my practice chooses and finances new technology. Every year we establish a budget of somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000+.  Our 4 doctors research the possibilities throughout the first 6 months of the year, paying close attention to which technologies will give us the biggest bang (= sales) for the buck, coupled with value to patient care.  With connected technologies we favor open source, to avoid the high cost of proprietary closed systems. For example we reviewed and had demos of digital scanning systems and milling units last year and chose 3M’s scanner coupled with Glidewell’s milling unit. For a huge discount off the cost of the “industry leader” we have been able to integrate wonderful same day crown technology.

In order to maintain strong financial control we always finance technology over 3 years – no matter what the cost. For instance Carestream offered an amazing deal to upgrade our CS9000 CT scanner to the CS9300 near year’s end. We chose to do that deal with financing at 2.49% payable over 3 years.

Considering how fast technology changes (especially computers and servers) having loans pay out every year in a 3 year cycle keeps us agile and allows us to change out or acquire new technology in a timely and affordable manner. If we can’t pay off technology in 3 years we don’t buy it.

And of course we do extensive training to avoid the mistakes on Larry’s list.

What are your thoughts on technology acquisition, training, and finance?

The Ten Most Common Mistakes Dentists Make Using Technology 

by Dr. Larry Emmott

  1. No training
  2. No follow up training
  3. Dentist doesn’t get training
  4. No training on updates
  5. Not enough training
  6. Lack of training
  7. Little training
  8. Self training
  9. Poor training
  10. Won’t pay for training

Read more »

patient retention appreciation

By |

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Patient Relations

patient retention appreciation

Many private practice professionals will look to new marketing strategies to help expand their customer base. This is important, but it’s also important to consider how to retain patients you’ve already earned. Here are some tips to help you improve patient relations, and in turn, retention in 2016.

Stay on Schedule
According to Software Advice, an Austin, Texas-based software consultation group, 97 percent of patients are frustrated by wait times they face at the doctor’s office.

Staying on time is easier said than done, especially when late patients can largely throw off your whole day’s schedule. Respecting your patients’ time by reducing wait times can help improve retention. Create a plan of action to help you stay on schedule. Analyze the cause of your delays in 2015 and strategize how to fix the problem.

Provide a Token of Appreciation
The reality is that you’re going to get behind some days. On the days you don’t get it right, do something extra for your patients who waited, er…patiently. First, acknowledge when they’ve waited longer than they should have and sincerely apologize. Then offer them a small token of appreciation.

With just a few clicks, office staff can instantly deliver affordable eGifts to the patient. For instance, they can send a RedBox or Amazon movie eGift code via email or text message using the txtMovies platform. They can also offer to cover the patient’s next coffee with a Starbucks gift card, also deliverable through email.

You don’t have to go the digital route. If your office is located near great lunch spot or coffee house, have a stack of gift cards to these locations ready to hand out.

Ask the Catch All Question
As you show concern for your patients’ health, make sure you ask that all important catch all question – “Do you have any other questions at this time?”
This question above all takes only a moment to show concern for whatever your patients have on their mind.

By implementing one or more of these simple suggestions in 2016, you’ll be on your way to stronger patient relationships ultimately leading to better retention and more patient referrals!

Read more »

× Close