DCSIMG
Header Logo Band

Communicating

One simple trick to improve your experience at networking events

LeadershipWe are well underway with plans for the ADA 28th New Dentist Conference taking place in Kansas City, Missouri July 17-19, 2014 at Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center (registration is open now!)

One of the great benefits of the conference is the ability to network with new dentists from across the country, as well as with key ADA leaders. But we know that not everyone is immediately comfortable in a networking environment.

We came across this great list at The Daily Muse of 21 Ways to Make Networking Less Scary and More Fun. Here’s one tip that stood out for us:

Approach Pairs, Not Singles

“If you see a pair of people talking, the chances are that they arrived together and know they should be mingling. Or else they’ve just met and are, in the back of their minds, worried that they’re going to end up talking to this one person all night. (You’ve just made it easier for one of them to exit.) Either way, they’re relieved to see you. And your chances of having a decent conversation are better, because now you’re talking to two people, not just one.”

What about you — do you have any strategies that work well in a networking event? Leave your answers in the comments.

Minimize Canceled Appointments

The ADA Center for Professional SuccessCanceled appointments are part of operating a dental practice, but they can be managed to minimize their effect on your bottom line.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has an article about minimizing cancelled appointments that includes:

  • What to say (and avoid saying) when leaving a reminder on a patient’s voicemail
  • How to handle changes to dates or times
  • Providing a constructive response when a patient has changed his mind about treatment

The ADA Center for Professional Success is a member-only resource. 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.

Stop the Conversation Hogs at your Next Meeting by Using Brainwriting

checklistAt some meetings it seems like a minority of the participants do a majority of the talking. But urging the chatterboxes to shut up or coaxing the wallflowers to speak up is unlikely to solve the problem.

Leigh Thompson, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management and a team consultant offers three techniques to ensure broader participation by meeting attendees. One approach caught our attention–instead of brainstorming, try brainwriting. We’re partial to the description Debra Kaye put together over at the Build Network:

Step 1: Write just one sentence each. For the first five or 10 minutes of your next idea-generation meeting, every team member writes down one good idea or one proposed solution on, say, each of a small stack of index cards.

Step 2: Consider the idea, not the source. When the timer goes off, all cards are submitted anonymously and taped or thumbtacked to a wall for the whole team’s consideration.

Step 3: Put it to a blind vote. Team members signal their interest in an idea by marking it with a sticker or a Post-it note. Everyone gets a limited number of stickers and, if done right, the best ideas emerge quickly

What about you—what has been an effective tactic to ensure that everyone in a meeting is heard? Leave your answers in the comments

Add This Phrase to Supercharge your Feedback

mentoring

Great feedback can help move a person forward, while ineffective feedback can stall or even reverse progress.

What is the secret of great feedback? Author and blogger Daniel Cole identifies one phrase that dramatically increases the likelihood that the recipient will use the feedback to improve:

I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.

Why is this 19-word phrase so effective? Cole explains that the phrase contains three essential signals:

  • You are part of this group.
  • This group is special; we have higher standards here.
  • I believe you can reach those standards.

Notes Cole:

The key is to understand that this feedback isn’t just feedback–it’s a vital cue about the relationship. The reason this approach works so well has to do with the way our brains are built. Evolution has built us to be cagey with our efforts; after all, engagement is expensive from a biological standpoint.

But when we receive an authentic, crystal-clear signal of social trust, belonging, and high expectations, the floodgates click open.

Now it’s your turn—do you have any techniques you use when giving feedback to ensure your feedback moves the listener forward, not back? Leave your answer in the comments.

In a Time of Change Find out Why Things are Going So Well

Leading a group at a dry erase boardSometimes it seems we’re wired to correct the negative. So when it comes to making a change, we’ll wonder, “What is the problem and how shall I fix it?”

Author Dan Heath suggests that this approach probably works fine most of the time — if your kid has a single F on his report card, by all means focus on that problem. However in a post on the Fast Company blog, Heath suggests it isn’t always wise to focus on problems:

There’s one time in life when this problem-focus backfires on us, and that’s when we’re trying to change things. In times of change, our report card doesn’t look almost-perfect. It looks mixed. Parts of it look like a failure. And if, in those times, we slip into problem-solving mode, we’ll spin our wheels, because there are problems everywhere. That’s a recipe for inaction, for paralysis.

What’s the answer? Instead of focusing on the problems, identify the parts that are going right and try to reproduce those results. Heath calls this a bright spots focus.

Here’s an example — let’s say you set a New Year’s resolution to get more exercise, and that looking back you haven’t been as consistent as you hoped. You probably exercised on some days – what made those days different? If you do some detective work to identify those bright spots (“I woke up earlier on those days,” or “I had my gym bag ready-to-go by the front door,”) you can focus on increasing the number of good days, rather than scolding yourself for having bad days.

Have you found any bright spots? Leave your answers in the comments.

Schedule a Workshop for your New Dentist Committee

local arrangements committee smiling (2)Whether you are looking for a basic workshop to get off to a good start, or an advanced workshop, customized to meet your group’s needs, an ADA New Dentist Committee Workshop can help you elevate your connection to new dentists to the next level!

Both the basic and advanced workshops are designed for current and prospective members of your New Dentist Committee, as well as society leaders who work with or have an interest in the activities of the committee. The workshops are conducted by ADA staff in conjunction with the district representatives from the ADA New Dentist Committee.

There is no charge for workshops. The ADA pays for all of the speakers’ expenses, and the society hosting the meeting is requested to provide continental breakfast and lunch for the attendees as well as a location for the program.

To Schedule a Workshop or For More Information Please contact the ADA New Dentist Committee office at newdentist@ada.org.

What to do when Delegating Goes Wrong

NegotiationWhen we talk with new dentists, one challenge comes up frequently — the difficulty in getting comfortable with delegating. But whether you own a practice or work for one, there is simply no way to do it all yourself.

Over at the HBR blog, Elizabeth Grace Saunders has a series of suggestions for how to delegate effectively. Here’s a tip that caught our attention:

Once you start to let go of control, inevitably there will be a time when something doesn’t get done in the way that you would prefer. Your gut reaction will lead you to blame yourself for letting go — “Why did I ever let anyone else do this?” – which typically manifests on the surface as anger toward or frustration with others. But instead of immediately putting the work back on your agenda, transform this situation into an opportunity for learning. First, evaluate whether you could do anything differently in the future. Second, help the people who did the work understand what they need to know to complete the work successfully next time. Often you don’t know what went wrong until you really dig in.

What is your best advice for someone new to delegating tasks? Share your answers in the comments.

Create a User’s Manual about Yourself for your Team

Young girl using tabletWe’ve written before about using employee agreements to clarify expectations between the practice and the dental team. So we were interested when we read on The Build Network about a corporate strategist who developed a one-page user’s manual to help his new employees understand how to work with him effectively.

Check out the original post for a series of questions to ask (and answer) for developing a user’s manual:

  • What are my expectations for commitment to the job beyond conventional work hours?
  • What are my idiosyncrasies—that is, what are the individual quirks that anyone working with me should know about?
  • What weaknesses of mine should the team know about — and how can they help me improve?
  • What is my process for handling conflicts?
  • When it comes to mistakes, what’s the best way for employees to come forward?

Seems like this could be helpful when it comes to bringing new team members up to speed with your working style and preferences. After all, over time it becomes second nature to know how different personalities interact, but a shortcut could accelerate that process.

What about you — what has been your approach to letting the dental team know how you prefer to work? Leave your answers in the comments.

Negative Feedback and the Performance Review

NegotiationIt’s December and for many organizations, that means performance reviews and appraisals. If you are the boss, this might be the time of year when you provide feedback to your team. And if you are an employee, this might be the time when you are on the receiving end of an evaluation.

Over at the Fast Company blog, Celia Shatzman has posted 8 Questions to Ask your Boss that can Make or Break your Career. The post draws heavily from the book Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It: The Secrets of Getting Ahead by Jodi Glickman. Question #8 attracted our attention:

“I’m sure that I’ll have some additional thoughts and questions as I digest all this information. Could we schedule a follow-up conversation in a few days?”

When to ask: At the end of a not-so-great performance review or any conversation wherein your boss gives you valuable, if not altogether positive, feedback.

Why it’s important to ask: It’s hard to think on your feet and ask constructive questions when you’re feeling beat up. By asking for a few days to collect your thoughts, you’ll have time to reflect on your boss’s words and brainstorm ways to move ahead. “The last thing you want to do is lose your cool,” says Glickman. “Remember, the goal of feedback is not to make you feel good. It’s to make you better at your job.”

Seems as though this would also apply if you were the one delivering the negative feedback—you might propose that the two of you meet again in a few days for a follow-up conversation.

What has been your experience with negative feedback, either on the giving or receiving side? Share your observations in the comments.

What is the Accountability System for your Goals?

Pocket watches in a bunchBig 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.