by Bill Blatchford, DDS
We were born into a time- and results-based world. We think if we work harder and longer, we will achieve our dreams. Our fathers and families are part of this culture, and it is so ingrained that we do not see another avenue. We work long hours, more days than necessary, Saturdays, and evenings. Some doctors do not take lunch breaks, thinking they will produce more. It requires a paradigm shift to move from a time and effort mindset to results-based thinking.
Results-based thinking is being paid for creativity, and you are more creative when you take time away from work and are refreshed. Instead of thinking of vacation as a reward for working long hours, think of vacation as a requirement for creativity. How do we create the opportunity for six to eight weeks of vacation?
Our most productive offices are working the least amount of time. Working three days a week, doctors discover that taking every sixth week off increases creativity. It doesn’t matter if you leave town during your time off or stay and enjoy activities with friends. The important thing is to take time off. When doctors work six days a week, they fearfully drop one day, yet production increases. They drop to four days a week and production increases. Why?
You need time away to refresh and be the most effective when you work. Here’s what happens in a five-day-a-week practice: The doctor and staff are tired, so they take "vacation" at work. They are inefficient and ineffective. They are in a low productivity mode. The team is probably being paid by the hour so why not continue to work and even have some overtime? The work can never be completely finished in a dental office anyway.
Have you noticed that some very creative moments come when you are exercising? Your mind needs time away to dream and develop solutions and plans. We need to create a new cycle of rejuvenation and a higher level of creativity.
The mechanical stage of time and effort thinking creates burnout. Then we feel like we need a vacation. As a profession, we need to take more time off and think bigger. Teams are currently on a time-and-effort-based economy, because this is the mindset of their environment. Moving them to a results-based economy demands an effective bonus system, which creates accountability for results. For the paradigm shift to be effective, a team will form when they are paid a salary for their professionalism. The outcome is accountability for results rather than working more hours and making a greater effort.
Ask any team member who works a five-day week: "If we paid you the same as you are earning now, do you feel you could produce the same or better in four days or even three days?" What do you think the answer will be?
Dr. April Ziegele works three-and-a-half days a week. In the book, Playing Your "A" Game, she says the average bonus for her team members is currently $3,100. The goal is to double that, which means two more smiles per bonus and equals talking with 10 guests about their dream smiles. Team members are actively looking for the opportunity.
"There is no more complaining, gossiping, or whining, because we don’t have time anymore," says Dr. Ziegele. "We have a credit balance because the team recognizes that is their money. They have bought into the ‘ownership’ of the practice due to bonuses, and it makes my job so much easier."
Dr. Curtis Chan of San Diego makes a point of vacationing every six to eight weeks. He and his wife, Mae, are madly in love with their four children and take every opportunity to grow and create with them. The dental team takes turns manning the office and answering the phone, but all take vacations at the same time.
If real results are your goal, the profession of dentistry offers you the opportunity to shift from time and effort economy to results-based thinking. Take time to regenerate, rejuvenate, and recreate. Shift your thinking from working hard and squeezing in a vacation to using time off to reinvigorate your practice.
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.