Bringing Your “A” Game To Your Dental Practice – Part I

By Larry Chatterley, CTC Associates

Bring your “A” game!” It is a common phrase used when participating in a sporting activity. Similar to school grades, bringing your “A” game refers to doing your best and performing at your highest level.

So when it comes to dentistry, what does a practice look like where the doctor and staff are bringing their “A” game every day? One of the major characteristics is a high number of patient referrals. The practice atmosphere is such that the patient’s experience is way above average. An “A” game exceeds patient expectations and motivates patients to go out and tell others about the practice. Consider the following advice, adapted from Intuit’s operating values:

“Many dental practices say that their most important job is satisfying the patients. But satisfying the patient is simply the minimum requirement for staying in business. Therefore, don’t seek to just satisfy; seek to ‘wow’ them. Wow means creating enthusiasm and delight. It means giving patients dramatically more value than they expect – whether measured by price, performance, quality or service. You know you are succeeding when you inspire your patients to go out and tell others about your business.”

So how do you know if you are bringing your “A” game to your practice? Patient referrals are usually the ultimate gauge. How “wowed” are your patients? If they aren’t, how can you “wow” them now?

Let’s explore that. As the doctor, you should determine how you feel about yourself and your performance. “Wowing” patients has much to do with your attitude and how you focus on them through a continuous process of enhancing your interpersonal, communication and leadership skills.

Unfortunately, some of the “quick fix” systems promoted by practice management consultants generally treat the symptoms but do not cure the problem. Why? Because the heart of the problem lies in attitudes and beliefs—not in circumstances or the way things are done. While it is relatively easy to instruct others on how to do things a different way, it is much more difficult to teach others how to be a different way. But success in this area comes from changing attitudes and changing perceptions–both of which require great effort. This change in who we are is paramount for creating an atmosphere in which patients can be truly “wowed” by being truly cared for. It is much more important than just changing what we do. And the bonus? When we change we who are, what we do changes almost automatically.

I recommend starting with what Shawn Achor advocates in his book, “Happiness Advantage.” In it, Mr. Achor lays out five simple habits that are proven to make humans happier and more successful. He explains, “Ninety percent of your happiness is predicted not by your external world, but by the way your brain processes your external world.”

Here are those five simple habits:

1 – Write down three new things you are grateful for every day.  Doing this for 21 days in a row rewires your brain to scan the world not for the negative but for the positive first.

2 – Journal.  Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.

3 – Exercise.  This teaches the brain that behavior matters.

4 – Meditate.  Meditation allows the brain to get over the cultural ADHD you create by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows the brain to focus on the task at hand.

5 – Perform random or conscious acts of kindness.  Write one positive text or email every time you open your inbox praising or thanking someone in your social support network.

The old idea that “If I work harder, I’ll be more successful, and if I’m more successful, I’ll be more happy,” is backwards. Positive psychology researchers have found that if, instead, you raise your level of positivity then your brain experiences what’s known as a “happiness advantage” – intelligence, creativity, energy all rise and every business outcome improves.

Success doesn’t bring happiness. But happiness is much more likely to bring success. Playing your “A” game is really the degree to which the happiness flows.

 


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