Big dreams are great, but if you don’t create space in your life for making progress toward them, then they’re fantasies, not goals.
That’s a quote from productivity expert Laura Vanderkam who goes on to write:
Build an accountability system–a friend, a group, an app–that will make failure uncomfortable. If you’ve got a run scheduled for Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday morning it’s 25 degrees out and your warm bed seems pretty enticing, what is going to motivate you to get your shoes on and go?
Here’s the thing — if you are a new dentist, chances are you’ve already aced this skill. We continue to be amazed at the level of not just ambition but bona fide accomplishment that new dentists bring to their lives.
So what’s your secret? What kind of system do you have in place so that when the going gets tough you persevere? Give us your answer in the comments.
If you are the owner of a dental practice, you might already have an employee agreement for use in clarifying expectations between the practice and the dental team. If you don’t have an agreement in place, consider Preparing Written Employee Agreements. As the title suggests this brief document is not a substitute for legal advice, but it is a helpful list of topics that are customarily included in an employee agreement. For instance:
- What are the expectations around uniforms?
- What is the arrangement for professional liability insurance?
- What are the policies for continuing education?
…and more. ADA members can get the complete story at the ADA Center for Professional Success. And while you are there check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice.
Is this the best way to conduct a phone interview?
We’re putting the final touches on the upcoming issue of ADA New Dentist News, and one of the stories is about dentists finding opportunities in a group practice setting. Many of the dentists we spoke with mentioned that their initial interviews for these positions took place over the phone rather than in-person.
Judith A. Stock, writing for the Fast Company blog, has a list of suggestions for increasing your effectiveness in a phone interview. Some of the suggestions seem common sense (choose a quiet location, use a land line if possible) and some of the tips were new to us (try to find a pic of the person you are speaking with and address your answers to that image while talking) and we especially liked the three Cs of phone interviews—Concision, Concentration and Courtesy.
Concision: Phone interviews are shorter than in-person interviews, meaning less time to make a good impression. Avoid long-winded answers that could lose your audience. Keep your responses to no more than three sentences.
Concentration: Stay focused and take notes during the call. It’s not the time to organize your mail or reply to emails.
Courtesy: Be professional and be polite. At the end of the call, ask, “Do my qualifications meet the company’s needs?” Then ask when you can meet with them in person.
If you have experience being interviewed over the phone, what has been effective for you? And if you’ve ever worn the interviewer hat, anything that interviewees have done that is helpful (or confusing)? Leave your answers in the comments.
No matter whether you are an employee, an owner or practicing in another setting, the way you market yourself as a dentist must be ethical, as well as effective. Consult the ADA Advertising Basics for Dentists and Dental Associations: A Guide to Federal and State Rules and Standards for information on common questions dentists have when preparing marketing materials.
Find information on assessing an advertisement for problems, substantiating claims made in advertisements and navigating the ethical considerations of newer marketing tactics such as deal-of-the-day social couponing sites.
Truthful advertising can be a solid foundation for building a trusted dentist-patient relationship. Be sure to consult your local and state dental associations and your own legal counsel for advice.
A brand identifies a good or services as distinctive from others—think of the original use of branding as a way for ranchers to identify cattle from various owners. Having a distinctive brand is especially important when many similar businesses compete in a single marketplace. For instance, a restaurant’s branding helps you to decide whether it is the perfect location for a romantic dinner, a great setting for a group celebration, or an easy option for an early supper with young children. The restaurant’s brand singles it out in a crowded marketplace, much as the cattle brand separates one steer from the herd.
The brand of a particular dental practice will be informed by the owner dentist’s philosophy of dentistry. Having a target makes it easier for your brand to take aim, shifting your focus from a “one size fits all” approach. Here are three tips adapted from ADA New Dentist News:
Good Graphic Design is a Good Start It’s true—everything from the practice website to the reminder postcards benefits from having a consistent graphic identity. This means fonts, colors and images must all work together harmoniously, and that is a job for a professional, not an ambitious amateur. Just remember that they are the expert designers, and you are the expert dentist!
Every Encounter Makes a Difference But a brand is more than distinctive visuals. The way the team answers the phone, greets patients when they arrive and schedules follow-up appointments are all touch points that communicate your brand.
The Dentist is the Most Important Part of the Brand A logo or slogan is not what makes a practice successful. Your patients and your team will look to see if your actions are in alignment with your brand. Activities such as attending community events, shopping and dining locally, joining the Chamber of Commerce, and connecting on a person-to-person basis offer proof that you fully support the ideals of your brand.
Unlike dental school, where assignments, expectations and evaluations are clear-cut, working as an employee offers fewer opportunities for you to get clear feedback on your performance. You’ll need to keep your boss informed about what a great job you are doing, but how to accomplish that without coming across as a blowhard?
Over at The Daily Muse blog, Allison Jones tackles that question in her post How to Brag at Work (Without Sounding Like a Jerk). Of course in order to promote your successes, you’ll need to keep track of them. Jones suggests monitoring your goals and achievements on a quarterly basis, maintaining a journal of accomplishments and one suggestion that was new to us:
Take a look at your job description. For each duty, say to yourself, “I know I am doing this well because…” and list a specific example that illustrates your success.
This got us wondering about those of you working as employee dentists — do you have a written job description? And for those of you answering no what method do you and your boss use to make sure you are in alignment with each other? Share your answers in the comments:
Dr Alexa Vitek
Getting involved in your community can be a great way to give back, as well as raise awareness of your practice and bring patients to your door. But with so many deserving causes and different opportunities, it can be a challenge to direct your energy to where it will be most effective.
In March 2013 ADA New Dentist News spoke with a number of new dentists about how they used community involvement as a practice builder. Dr. Alexa Vitek, who built a general dentistry practice from scratch in DeWitt, Michigan, talked about the importance of getting people who could be potential patients into the practice. Here’s what she said:
“I had great success donating custom whitening trays for a silent auction fundraiser,” she recalls, “it literally put new people in my chair.”
Dr. Vitek also organizes events for the merchants in the shopping center where her practice is located, including a holiday prize drawing. “Prize winners come to my practice to pick up their prizes, presenting another opportunity for someone to see firsthand how friendly and welcoming our practice is.”
What about you—have you used community involvement as a way to build interest in your dental practice? Leave your suggestions and experiences in the comments.
Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session
It’s almost time for ADA Annual Session with over 300 lectures and interactive learning events to choose from. We suggest the New Dentist Track — these 21 courses were selected in consultation with the ADA New Dentist Committee, and they cover both clinical and practice management topics.
One course in the track is Are You Well-Liked? Why Online Reputation is Important to Your Online Success (Course Code: 7381), a course taught by Dr. Leonard Tau. Patients are talking about you, and this course is designed to help you put a plan in place to monitor, promote and manage a positive reputation for your practice online.
Important All courses – even free ones, like Are You Well-Liked? – are ticketed and must be reserved through the registration system. Plan your CE and register today
Giving instructions can be a challenge
Asking others to do something feels tricky sometimes. It can be easier when there is a clear line of authority, such as when you are the owner and you are addressing an employee, but what about a situation where you might work with a dental team member without being the boss? Or when you are asking someone who is a peer or a colleague to do something?
It can be easy to veer between the demanding I need you to do this (somewhat dictatorial) and the lame It would be great if you would do this (somewhat passive-aggressive).
In the book How to Wow, communications expert Frances Cole Jones suggests the phrase My request is…
- My request is that this project be completed before Monday
- My request is for a location that offers free parking
- My request is to mark all requests for vacation time on the shared calendar
The beauty of “My request is,” notes Jones is that it leaves people in no doubt that a request has been made of them by you, but because you haven’t used the “I/you” combination, you avoid their feeling overwhelmed or beleaguered.
What about you—are there any phrases that you’ve found useful when giving instructions? Share your answers in the comments.
When you are looking for an employment opportunity, remember that the job interview is a two-way street, with both parties assessing each other.
Dr. Ryan Dulde has put together a list of 30 Interview Questions for Finding the Right Fit. It’s worth checking out the entire list — Dr. Dulde not only suggests the questions, but often explains the underlying information you hope to learn by asking a particular question in the first place.
Here’s one that grabbed our attention:
To what extent do you expect an associate to be engaged in marketing in the community, volunteering, etc.? What is expected from an associate in terms of representing the practice? Be sure to ask yourself this too! How much time outside of the 8-5, if any, are you prepared to contribute to grow the practice …even as an employee?
Is there any question that you asked (or didn’t ask) that made a difference when assessing a job opportunity? Let us know in the comments.