I NEED a Raise!


How it really should work

It’s not about NEEDING a raise, it’s about rightfully EARNING a raise. And who ever said that it must be an increase in salary to show appreciation for a job well done? It’s about the efforts put forth by the employee that convert to reaching production goals, and possibly exceeding all projections and benchmarks.

Asking for a raise is a difficult discussion to have, whether you are delivering the message or receiving it.  How do you as the employee approach this delicate subject?  How do you even begin the conversation? What’s the right time to ask? How does one prepare for such a monumental event?

These are all questions most employees would ask themselves as they prepare to take the big step. So when is it “time”?  Is there a certain amount of practice longevity when this is appropriate? Should it be addressed in a letter? Do I take my doctor to lunch?

Truthfully, I believe that no one should ever have to ask for a raise.  The well organized, business-savvy employer should be watching, evaluating, and tracking both the growth and success of the practice as well as clearly observing contributions made by their team members.

Has Suzie saved me money due to her creative purchasing of materials and supplies? Did Joanie the hygienist promote and schedule Mrs. Smith’s overdue quad scale?  And what about Maryanne who saved the day last week by personally picking up Mrs. White for her 3 hour implant appointment when she almost cancelled due to car trouble?

Watch and listen to the many areas that an astute and dedicated team will manage while you, the doctor, are busy prepping and impressing.  There is a lot to be said for what a talented, reliable, long-term employee can bring to the success of the business.  And if the business is thriving, growing, and maintaining or exceeding projected goals, then chances are that as the employer you have those outstanding team members to thank.

Increases don’t necessarily have to occur at any specific time. For example, there is no rule that states “Raises are to be given at the first of the year”. A raise should align with the measurable growth and success of the business, which doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of a cash increase.

An additional perk such as added vacation time or a medical insurance upgrade is another way of thanking employees for a job well done. I know of a very successful practice where the doctor will place a hundred dollar bill in an envelope when the team member has accomplished something outstanding. Just when they least expect it! What a wonderful and meaningful (and motivating) surprise.

As long as the business is moving along at a successful pace, collecting all it produces, balanced by a team that works well together and efficiently keeps everything together, then the business is in a healthy place. Of course everyone expects a business to improve and do better with each year, but improvement can occur in many different ways.

It’s showing appreciation and gratitude to those employees that hung in there day after day, following protocols and doing their best to maintain a strong successful business. These team members are invaluable to your practice, are deserving of a thank you every now and then.

It doesn’t have to be Christmas or the New Year that “marks” the time to express one’s appreciation for all that your valuable team contributes to the bottom line and success of a practice. In fact, if these gestures are reserved exclusively for such “special occasions”, the person may feel that they are given out of a sense of obligation. Surprise them with a reward at the time they do something great to justify it instead. This level of appreciation can go a very long way to motivate and retain your best team members.

Creating advertising verbiage that focuses on the “right” audience



Recognizing those responses that represent the potentially “Ideal” candidates

Over the years I have created hundreds of job ads and never used the same one twice. I believe and live by the mantra that “no two practices are alike”, thus the team members that are being sought should have some variations too.

Of course there are always buzzwords that shouldn’t require mentioning such as “caring”, “hardworking”, “reliable”, and “efficient” to name a few. Yet I can certainly see why these words trickle into most ads that I see in all venues. I will admit, however, that I will allow one or two of these words to slip in on occasion.

There are some words and phrases that will never appear in any of my ads, and they are: “perks”, “ sick leave”, “benefits”, “profit sharing”, and “vacation time”.   This is not to say that some (or all) of these things are not eventually going to be discussed and possibly offered in time; I just stay clear of them in all of my ads. Why? Because there are people that seek out perks, sick leave, benefits, profit sharing, and vacation time prior to reading anything else pertaining to the qualifications that you are seeking and what the position entails.

With applicants who have this mindset, it’s more about “what am I going to get” than “what am I going to bring”, or “how do I align with the skills and culture that this practice is looking for”. We all talk about locating team members that are in it for the “passion” first. That’s to say that there are those that are more interested in a career than “just a job”. Aren’t the career-minded candidates the ones you would rather attract? They do exist and it’s just a matter of locating them based on how your ad is crafted and written, and what you include along with what you intentionally omit.

The smart, truly interested dental professionals will first and foremost be most interested in what you and your practice is all about, and how their ability fits with the environment and style that surrounds your office. Making mention of the culture and philosophy of the practice will be very important to those that take their careers seriously, whereas those that are either “kicking tires” or contemplating a move for more money (or some other of the wrong reasons) are going to gravitate to the ads that list compensation and “extras”.

All astute job seekers expect that the compensation offered will reflect the talent and track record of the job applicant first. When the responses and interest begins to occur start watching for these positive signs:

  • The candidates that reference your advertising verbiage in their cover letter should never be overlooked. This is an indication that they not only took the time to customize their response, but that they read it carefully in order to make cogent comments
  • The ones that appear to have a similar background to what you are hoping to find
  • A clean, well-formatted resume that is preferably one page (yes, this is possible even with a lengthy work history)
  • Well-written with no or very few grammatical/spelling errors

And the negative signs:

  • Numerous spelling/grammatical errors
  • Lots of movement from position to position (although a couple “might” be acceptable, especially if the candidate can provide a legitimate reason for the moves)
  • Referencing what they “want” or “need” to make, as well as necessary “perks”
  • Not thoroughly reading the job description. Although they may have some degree of dental experience, are they applying without the skills that were listed as “must haves” to successfully fill the position?

Giving some thought to the areas I have listed should prove to be helpful if and when you see the need to begin an employee search. Keeping information on applicants that didn’t make it through the process should be retained, although few if any practices do. Ourdentalteam.com Team Management Software has an area to document and maintain this valuable information. Check it out!


Team Meetings are a Total Waste of Time — if they’re not productive


Team meetings can serve to resolve a multitude of issues and keep everyone on the same journey with the same goals focusing on the same outcomes, but not every team meeting is effective, productive, and useful. They can actually be detrimental to all that we are hoping to accomplish.

Do you find that your team meetings are beneficial?

Do you walk away from them feeling as though some valuable contributions were made?

Did you look around the room and see blank stares and did you find that even you were yawning?

More so, do the areas of discussion and suggestions made ever get implemented–and do they stick?

Setting aside time to conduct team meetings is a waste of precious time if they don’t serve the purpose that they are intended to serve; because you could easily be treating your patients instead. Spending the time chatting about favorite restaurants, movies you’ve seen, or even comical situations that occurred in the office is not putting forth the effort needed to troubleshoot areas that need attention to better serve your patients and each other.

This is not to say that all non business-related conversation is off limits, it’s that the group needs to understand when it’s time to get down to the purpose of your meeting and concentrate on the matters at hand.

Developing a standardized protocol for these meetings and pre-scheduling them is a fine idea, but if they become more of a social hour than anything else, perhaps you need to examine the structure you’ve been following and revisit what is working and what isn’t.

There are offices that follow basically the same template, with the same outline of subjects, the same structure, AND the same people contributing while the same people do not. How can a meeting be “spiced up” and have value and purpose?

There are a number of ways to kick things up and make this hour or two together a very important facet of your dental practice. Do you, the leader, ever think about starting the meeting highlighting accomplishments and kudos that occurred since the last meeting? There are always wins and victories that can be brought to the team’s attention. Everything that occurred over the past few weeks doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom.

Making it a point to start every meeting with positives will serve a number of purposes. Success breeds more success, and you will find that you will instantly get the attention of the group when you begin the program by not only recognizing those people that gave something extra, but praise the entire team for their efforts.

People are much more likely to listen to what you have to say when the discourse starts with some positive feedback. It is also not uncommon to find that one or two people tend to lead the discussions while there are others that simply listen, or perhaps “appear” as though they are listening.

Distractions can be working against the efficiency of these meetings as well, which is why gathering over the lunch hour takes some careful planning. Everyone has to understand the “value” of your get-together and realize that it is an extension of your workday–a responsibility that all team members must honor.

Decide how long it will take to eat your lunch, stay on task, and begin the meeting after lunch has been consumed so that all eyes and ears are focused on the business at hand. Make sure the phone is switched to voice mail and offering a message that states “We are currently conducting our weekly meeting to assist us all in better serving our patients”.

Meeting somewhere out of the lobby/reception area is advised so that those patients that arrive early for their appointments do not interrupt the session. Posting a sign that indicates that you are conducting a team meeting that will end at (?) is an effective way to handle it.

So if you feel you want to maintain your meeting routine on a regular basis there are things that should be observed in order to help assure that it is as beneficial and productive as it can be:

  • Pre-set every meeting for the year and keep the dates!
  • Change up the agenda and consider varying the format to keep them interesting yet informative
  • Don’t have any outside interferences that will distract the group and minimize the value of the process
  • The leader (doctor) should be aware of positives that occurred since the last meeting and offer “kudos” at the onset of the business segment of the meeting. There is always something good to say about someone! Start watching for things and make note of them–success breeds success!
  • Delegate different team members to officiate and develop a format to follow so that creating the subject matter isn’t difficult and stressful
  • Make certain the goals that were set when you last met have been successfully implemented. Setting goals without tracking goals is a waste of precious time, and if all that is accomplished are discussions with no follow-through, what good is meeting in the first place?
  • Like everything else we do, when we see the value in something we respect its importance.

You might want to take a look at ourdentalteam.com, which can document all the individual contributions your team makes that aren’t tracked by your practice management software. It’s a great way to share team success, and can be a huge motivational tool.


Red Flags and High Fives

redflag highfive

Paying attention to the early “signs” when hiring

As I write this blog post I am almost at the end of “drafting” my own first-string team to work with me in supporting the ourdentalteam.com subscribers. Going through this process myself has reminded me of some interesting observations that I want to bring to your attention. They pertain to the job seekers/candidates that have exhibited both positive and negative “signs” as we all travel through the process.

In my case I have located quite a few dental professionals via social media based on a very specific ad that I crafted and posted on craigslist in numerous major cities throughout the country. Needless to say, the response was overwhelming with an average of 25-30 responses from each geographic area. I want to share my personal experience with all of you since mine was one that should directly relate to you, even though I am seeking employees to work with me remotely.

The early stage of my process is directly parallel to yours in many ways, and I felt it was valuable information to share with you. By the way, it’s important for you to know that I had created a couple of different response letters for the various interested parties based on their inquiries.

A little about the advertising contents:

I developed an ad that clearly spelled out what I was seeking as I intentionally craft all my advertising in this fashion. I believe a lot about the job candidate can be garnered when those “special” interested candidates respond by referencing something within the text of the ad itself. Reading and understanding is the first positive sign in my evaluation process.

Response styles:

  1. There were those that simply attached a resume with no cover and no comments, and as I am fairly certain, no clue as to what they were applying for. They simply skimmed its content just enough to get a feel for what is was, and assumed it was something they could do.
  2. Others appeared to “get it”, although immediately wrote back comments to the effect of “what will the pay be?”
  3. Many appeared quite interested, and although I sent them a very detailed return response to their requests they fell off the map and out of site.
  4. Others made it through the first exchange of emails, and although I stated our need to set up phone time (and in spite of my ongoing string of emails reminding them that this must be done), they too fell into an abyss.
  5. Two of them were ready to come on board, had all of their materials ready to go and got lost, never to return my inquiring emails or phone calls. Never another word, never to be found again. Not even a “no thanks no longer interested”.

And the winners!

  1. They were prompt in their responses–keeping the internet dialog going.
  2. We efficiently scheduled all follow-up phone meetings and internet “tours” of our product without a glitch. Clear communication back and forth and on time for every phone meeting scheduled.
  3. They had great questions that were thoughtful and cogent.
  4. They independently checked out ourdentalteam.com via the web and were extremely self-motivated and inquisitive.
  5. Many went so far as to check out my background, my history, what I have done in my career, etc. After all, if they join my team it would make total sense to know what they are signing up for (and with whom), not to mention job security.As I move forward through the process with all of these outstanding professionals I continue to appreciate true “poetry in motion”.

Do you see how this all relates to the early stages of your interview processes? I would like to take a moment to publically thank the outstanding team that will be working with me to support all of our client/dentists and their teams. I am so proud to have each and every one of them with me and feel certain that all who have the opportunity to work with them will feel the same.

Yes, I found the BEST and you can too!