Brenda Kaesler, RDH
What do Michael Jordan, Ken Caminiti, and Brett Farve have in common? We all agree that these players are outstanding in their fields. But, how did they become outstanding, leading their teams to the playoffs or winning the title of Champion of their respective sport? How have they elevated themselves in their chosen professions to not only earn excellent monetary rewards, but perhaps the most coveted award, most valuable player? Did they reach their potential by hard work, practice and inner drive, demanding nothing less than excellence of themselves? Maybe by the mentors they`ve had while learning the game?
Of course, all of those things have been present in their development. And if you asked each one of them to list the things most important to their success, somewhere toward the top of the list, even before mentors in their field, will be one of their coaches.
Fortune 500 companies and sports teams have coaches. Small business owners and individuals committed to bettering themselves have coaches. Top executives and executives committed to reaching the top, individual athletes committed to excelling in their game, and couples dedicated to bettering their relationships have coaches. Even coaches have coaches. And dentists have coaches, too.
Everyone who wants to be "successful" should have a mentor. We all need to have role models to watch, study, ask questions of and model in different aspects of our life.
Mentors teach us what they know from their own knowledge and experiences. Nothing can replace the wisdom that someone can share from "walking in our shoes." Michael Jordan is a mentor to thousands of kids and adults playing basketball. Michael Jordan wants people to develop to their potential. And Michael Jordan will continue to produce outstanding results on the court.
Typically, mentoring is provided by our peers. In dentistry, you probably would pick a mentor who is another dentist and has reached a certain level of success by your standards. They have reached that level of success because they are dedicated and focused on the needs of their team members, patients and business. That focus must continue, or their own results will become stagnant or even decline.
The dental field has hundreds of consultants, ranging from those with a broad knowledge of the industry to those with sub-specialties. When you use a consultant, it is primarily to learn specific business strategies that are adjusted to your own unique situation and circumstance.
Consultants typically are committed to making an impact on the business direction of your practice. Consultants bring together not only their own personal knowledge and experience, but also success strategies of many of your peers. Some consultants are your peers; however, most are not.
There are dentists that believe they should only be assisted by their peers in the form of mentors. Certainly if you`re looking for technical dental procedure instruction, seeking the advice of another dentist with an excellent reputation would be appropriate. But there`s so much more to the business of dentistry that needs to be mastered. Coaching the results of your team, yourself and your business takes focus, attention to detail, energy and a commitment to your vision and success.
Which type of assistance is right for you?
It depends. In my own experience, I have found that if you are outstanding at assimilating information and consistently implementing changes on your own, books, tapes, seminars and mentors might be best for you. If you are blessed with an entire team that has positive attitudes and won`t slip back to the "way we used to do it," you can do quite well with consultants.
But, it also depends on what type of rewards you want from practicing dentistry. In today`s society, the rewards we receive are not always equal to the effort we put forth.
For example, good or average efforts don`t give us good rewards. Good efforts usually just give us poor rewards. It takes a great effort to produce good rewards and an excellent effort to yield great rewards. When we produce an outstanding performance, then we will receive excellent rewards.
Before you can truly answer the question of what type of assistance you need, maybe we should review the past investments you`ve made. What costs do the average dentists incur to begin "business?" It`s estimated that if you go to three years of undergraduate and four years of dental school, and don`t work during the college semesters, you`ll sacrifice over $80,000 in lost revenue during schooling and spend in excess of $100,000 in tuition, books, room and board, instruments, uniforms, materials, etc.
This equals an investment in the profession of plus or minus $200,000 before the boards are taken and the business loan is granted. But to be fair, use your own numbers in this exercise. The average dental loan for starting or purchasing a practice is in excess of $200,000. That means that the average dentist will invest more than $400,000 and at least seven years of his life and college-level education to start his own business. What rewards do you deserve from that type of start - up investment?
Remember, the choices are poor, good, great or excellent.
If the Chicago Bulls and the Green Bay Packers used mentors instead of coaches, how far would those teams go? I`ve provided mentoring for hygienists around the country, helping them build successful, high quality, departments for themselves, their patients and their employers. As a mentor, I provide a template to implement.
But mentoring only goes so far. I`ve provided consulting for dentists who want to impact one or more areas of their practice. Most of the time, any change is temporary and then things fall back to levels before the consultation. There isn`t consistent follow through by the staff and doctor. But highly successful practices, just as professional championship sports teams, reach the highest levels of performance by utilizing full-time coaches.
Phil Jackson is accountable for raising the standards of the Chicago Bulls` play and each individual`s game. Your coach is committed to the same for you, your team, and your business. Jackson is committed to each player`s continued growth as a person contributing to the team. Your coach is committed to the same for your team. Jackson is committed to each player on the team becoming even more refined in their skills. Your coach is committed to the same for you. In other words, if the Bulls stop winning, Mr. Jackson will be looking for a job. The same holds true for your coach.
It seems like dentistry has fewer full time coaches than any other form of management assistance in the field. They`re out there, and you have to look for them. Every coach in the company I have the privilege to be a part of is committed to assisting dentists in first defining their vision and outcomes, then developing workable strategies to accomplish those outcomes. We assist you in discovering the patterns of behavior that hold you and your team back from accomplishing your outcomes, then provide resources and tools to change the behaviors that don`t provide an outlet for success as you define success.
Which type of management assistance is right for you? Do you want to be a leader in your business, a leader for your team, community, family, and friends? Or, do you want to run a moderate business, being satisfied with the status quo and being listed as an average performer? Whatever your choice, make sure it`s your choice. Make sure you receive the assistance that`s right for you. Make sure it will support you in building your vision of your practice.
Brenda Kaesler, RDH, is a co-founder of Fortune Practice Management and has been coaching dentists and their teams since 1984. She owns and operates her coaching and consulting business in Dallas, Texas.