EP 101: Quiet Quitting: What It Is and How It’s Affecting Dental Practices

What exactly is “quiet quitting”?

The term has been trending in the news and on social media lately, so Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs are diving into the topic and how it affects dental practices in this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast.

Quiet quitting occurs when team members who are frustrated in their roles drastically reduce the amount of effort they put in. Simply put, quiet quitting is a way of quitting without actually quitting.

Shockingly, a recent Gallup poll found that roughly 50% of Americans are engaging in quiet quitting. While discontent, unmotivated team members have always been around, the Covid-19 disruptions to the workplace have caused a surge in workplace dissatisfaction leading to this wave of quiet quitting.

If left unaddressed, dissatisfaction at work can be contagious and these behaviors and attitudes can quickly ripple across an organization.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to prevent this from happening in your dental office, how to right the ship if you sense it’s already happening, and how to keep your team engaged, motivated, and performing at their very best.

If you’re interested in joining us as a guest, click here to fill out a quick form and we’ll be in touch: http://www.theteamtraininginstitute.com/guest 

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Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast with the Team training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it, who are in the trenches, who know exactly what you're going through. And now your leaders the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.

Dr. John Meis: All right. Welcome everybody. I'm Dr. John Meis here with my partner Wendy Briggs. Hey, Wendy.

Wendy Briggs: Hi, Dr. John.

Dr. John Meis: Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast. And there's been a new term thrown out about team members not pulling their weight. So what is it, Wendy?
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, it's great. I've seen it all over. The last few weeks, have been a few articles written about it. And it's also a TikTok trend for those young people who know what TikTok is and who follow TikTok. Some of you older people, Dr. John, myself-
Dr. John Meis:
Wait a minute, wait a minute.
Wendy Briggs:
Might suffer a little bit with TikTok trends, but it's called quiet quitting, and it's king of an interesting phenomenon that's taken over society, and it's causing a lot of grief for many companies and businesses, and also for dentistry.
Dr. John Meis:
It reminds me of the joke that's so old, but still so funny and so true when people say, "Well, how many people work for you?" And the answer is, "About half."
So quiet quitting. Really, it's the idea that people kind of quit or give up or don't give their full effort and begin to just coast and don't do their part until... So they've quit, but they haven't said anything about the quitting.
Easier to get away with in the work-from-home environment. However, we still see it happen in dental offices from time to time. And I think it's worthwhile talking about, because sometimes it becomes so obvious and so flagrant that it involves having to remove a team member. But sometimes it's much more subtle than that. And there's complete quiet quitting, but there's semi quiet quitting. So what do we do to the engagement of our team members? And that's what we wanted to talk about today.
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah. Dr. John, I heard a tagline on one of these articles that I thought was interesting. They said quiet quitting is a new term for the ancient art of slacking your way to a paycheck. So even in the article they say this is nothing new. There are people who will slack their way to a paycheck. But what's new about it is with this younger generation on TikTok, they're all sharing why they're quiet quitting. They feel like with Covid, they're exhausted, they're overworked, they're underappreciated. This whole mentality, if you will, of life is hard and I deserve an easier path or whatever it is. In their minds, they've kind of justified this behavior as, listen, I'm wanting more work/life balance. But when they show up for work, they're not really giving it their hundred percent, and they're admitting that out loud to their peers. "I'm not giving my all at work, I'm just there for the paycheck." And it can be a really damaging mentality.
Dr. John Meis:
It can for a variety of reasons. Number one, it can be contagious, and other people can say, "Well, if she's going to do that or he's going to do that, well, I'm going to do it too." It can be contagious and certainly de-motivating. For those that want to give their all and want to have an outstanding patient experience in a very successful practice, it's certainly de-motivating for them. And third, it can cause a lot of friction and division within an office.
So it's something that we all should be thinking about. It's very easy to sit back and judge these people for this behavior being wrong. That's very easy to do. However, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to help our employees be successful, to help our practice be successful. And so we want, instead of going to that place that's easy for most of us, easy for me to go and be judgemental of it, it's like, well, let's figure out some strategies that we can do to reduce this and maybe one strategy of what we can do when we identify it happening. How's that sound?
Wendy Briggs:
That sounds great, Dr. John. One of the things that I was reading in the articles, it said the key to avoid quiet quitting is to be focusing on how we can get a higher level of team or employee engagement. That's something we talk about quite a bit. How do we get them more engaged in their work, and how do we minimize or prevent the quiet quitting mentality from permeating in our office? So those are some things that we can talk about.
So we thought today we'd talk about three ways, three key ways. There's so many we could talk about, but three key ways to really boost and improve team engagement in your practice.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah, sounds good. I'm going to start with one, and that is clarity of vision.
So frequently we go to practices and we ask the team what's the strategic plan, where's this practice going? And they look at you like you are some kind of creature from outer space to ask that question, because the practice owner either doesn't have a vision, doesn't have clarity on their vision, or hasn't shared it with the team, or has shared it with the team, but not shared it in a way to help the team understand what's in it for them. If the practice is going to have a bigger future, we would want all of our team members to have a bigger future. And the best visions are ones that show that.
Here's how we're going to do a better job for our patients. Here's how that's going to be good for our team members. And if we do that really well, it'll be good for our practice as well. But having all those pieces is so frequently missing, isn't it?
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, and I would say too, doctors may have clarity on their own vision, but one of the things that they don't often do very well is communicate it to the team. And if I don't understand where the practice is going, I lose that sense of purpose in showing up for work every day. And I think that's what helps cause the situation where quiet quitting even becomes possible, is because people really don't have clarity on the vision, they don't understand the powerful why. We love, we quote Simon Sinek all the time, his start with why concept. And that really is, in a nutshell, giving your team a higher sense of purpose.
And I think people do, in this day and age, they want to be involved in something, they want to be participating in something that's bigger than themselves. And when they understand where we're going and why we do what we do every day, what our purpose is, what our mission is, then it becomes easier to create a higher level of engagement, and the team then becomes part of making that vision possible.
Dr. John Meis:
Another book we often quote from is Daniel Pink's The Surprising Drive, The Surprising Things that Motivate People. And among those things, one of them is purpose. You just talked about that. Another is having autonomy. And another one is mastery. So if we have a vision that includes people being able to work on their own thing in their own way, not micromanaged, basically, that's motivational to people. And then to have the ability to get better. And all of us should have learning organizations, organizations where we're constantly striving to get better, to learn new techniques, to learn new technology, to implement things that are going to make a better patient experience all around.
So really having the clarity on where we're headed is so critically important and so frequently missing. And it's not surprising sometimes that we lose some of the engagement of our employees when we can't speak clearly to these issues. So what's another? Go ahead.
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, I was just going to say I agree with that so much, and that leads us right to our next way to focus on improving team engagement. And that is communication. So we talk about clarity on the vision, but also the process or the way in which we communicate that vision to the team is critical. But I would say even day to day, the communication with the team can create a scenario where quiet quitting becomes the norm, or where we're able to work around that.
And you mentioned it so well when you talked about mastery, autonomy, and purpose. One of the things that I think I hear of more than anything else on a lot of the social media forums and the places where teams go to vent, teams and hygienists go to vent, is that they're not given that sense of autonomy. The way in which the doctors or the office managers are communicating are somewhat degrading. They are being micromanaged.
I had one post just yesterday. It's shocking that this kind of stuff still exists, but the hygienist was saying, "Is this normal? Literally every time my doctor comes in to do the exam, they highlight plaque that I've left behind. And I'm doing everything I can to leave a patient's mouth spotless, but the expectation is that I will get it spotless literally every time. Is this even possible?"
So this is an example of a situation where there literally is no autonomy, the expectations are somewhat unrealistic, and how we're communicating our dissatisfaction with this team member is completely backwards. It's in front of the patient. We're shaming our team instead of building them up in the eyes of our patient. We are taking all of that power and authority away. So these are very real scenarios, and it's such a simple trivial thing, but something like that happening day in and day out, every patient, that's going to lead to quiet quitting. Someone's going to give up.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah, absolutely.
Wendy Briggs:
And no longer be connected to the purpose.
Dr. John Meis:
In that situation, the best you can hope for is quiet quitting, more likely to get sabotage or exit. So that is certainly not the kind of communication that we want to have. So certainly any kind of communication that makes one of our team members look bad in front of a patient is unacceptable. It's unacceptable.
These kind of corrective conversations need to be happen, maybe not in this situation, but they need to happen from time to time. But they really never need to happen in front of a patient. Because all you're doing, like you said, is you're destroying the credibility and the authority of the team member that you want the patient to listen to. Otherwise, every problem, everything gets concentrated on the doctor. And that leads to an underperforming practice for sure.
Wendy Briggs:
And that was just one silly example. But these things are the things that can really hurt your team engagement. They can hurt patient engagement too. And so those are the things that we need to be focusing on. There's so many other countless examples I could share of team members struggling with another.
I saw another post a few days ago about a hygienist who gave notice because there were other two team members that were joining up and bullying this individual. So when we look at that, again, that's lack of clarity on the vision, that's lack of ownership on the purpose, not having clarity on the why. And other things that are important to support that clarity and support communication are having clearly defined core values, having a culture that's not broken. So all these things are connected.
We often talk about our success loop. Maybe we need to create a vision loop of some sort so that people can understand all of these things help build or destroy your vision. And not having clarity on your core values, it destroys your culture, especially if we're not communicating in the way that you described, and just takes us backwards in so many ways.
And as you mentioned, quiet quitting is just one thing that can happen. There's so many other things that do happen consistently that can be avoided with a focus on some of these important issues.
Dr. John Meis:
And communication is talking and it's listening, and it's a back and forth, and it's a striving to understand each other. So very frequently, I think a lot of communication, some dental practices is all telling. There's not much listening from the leadership, not much listening from the doctor. And that certainly is going to lead to a level of disengagement and a level of information that doesn't get back to the doctor because they're not willing and anxious to listen in order to learn.
I had this conversation just this morning with a young person just starting a group practice, and I said, "You are very, very confident. And that's great. You need confidence to make big things happen. But you have to balance that confidence with curiosity. You have to be able to ask questions, you have to be able to listen to the answers. You have to balance that, otherwise you start to just believe your own thoughts are always right. And we can be a hundred percent confident and a hundred percent wrong."
So we have to keep that curiosity going. And we do that by asking questions, by listening, by communicating back and forth.
Wendy Briggs:
I love that, Dr. John. And again, I think that holds true for everyone regardless of the seat they're in on the bus. Whether you're in a leadership position, whether you're a provider, whether you're an associate doctor, whether you're an owner doctor, whether you're an assistant, it really doesn't matter where you sit. Being able to listen effectively to your team members' concerns, requests, being open to doing whatever it takes, that's the opposite of that quiet quitting attitude is being a hundred percent fully invested. And it can be exhausting. That's one thing that I think really resonated with me in some of these articles is that for some people, the reason they end up quiet quitting is because they don't feel listened to, they don't feel supported. They feel like they're being overworked. They don't have a mechanism by which they're being appreciated for their effort, and so they just give up.
So that's sad when we see that happen, but it all comes back to communication. And it can be avoided when we have team members that are really focused on listening to each other and helping each other win, celebrating those wins as well.
Dr. John Meis:
And it happens very naturally as we become busier or in a stressful time, all of a sudden we don't have enough time to do it well. And so now there's telling instead of communicating. So it naturally happens to all of us, but it's something that we need to watch for because maintaining that communication, that level of, the next word that we'll use is connection. Maintaining that level of connection is another way of how we keep people from going to that disengaged, quiet quitting phase. So tell us about connection.
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, I love this one. And I would say in my experience, especially as a new hire, there's so many teams that have had either a period of rapid growth or we've got the great hygiene resignation happening. I just read an article in Massachusetts Health today about how dental practices are completely understaffed. So this is a big issue for so many of our people.
One of the things that we talk about with new hires is establishing an opportunity for them to connect with a member of the team. So we have an entire onboarding process that we teach, and part of that is what we call the three, three, three. What do you want your new hires to do after three days, after three weeks, and after three months?
And part of the success of that onboarding program is assigning them a mentor, creating a connection with a member of the team that they can go to with a question, with a challenge, with a scenario. If you feel that you're not being listened to. There are no stupid questions with this person. We're forcing a connection with this new hire.
And what we've learned from doing that in the past is that it does improve the onboarding process. It improves the retention of both of those employees, both the mentor and the new hire. And it enables that new hire to feel as if they're developing and progressing faster than if they aren't connected with a member of the team.
By having that in place, what we've seen overall is a much better experience for both the new hire, much more rapid progression of the skill sets that are, I guess expected from that new hire, as well as when you assign them a mentor, that mentor almost feels ownership for this new hire. They feel invested in their success. And that's exactly what we want to see.
So that's an example of how we can establish connections in the practice that help move us closer to our vision. There's so many others we could talk about, but that's just one critical example, especially given the state of so many practices right now with building a new team.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah. I learned this lesson by hard experience. We had a team member that we recruited to come to our office and work, and on day number four, she came in and she said, "I'm giving you my resignation. This is my last day." And I was like, "Well, no, no, why, why?" And she said, "Nobody likes me here." I said, "What do you mean nobody likes you here? We do like you here. We wanted you to come here. We went after you." And she said, "No, I know no one likes me." "Well, what makes you think that?" And she said, "Everybody goes out to lunch together, and no one has ever invited me."
Oh, broke my heart. This is a great person who needed the connection. And it was overlooked by myself, it was overlooked by our team. And never made that mistake again. Having that mentor, having either that person or someone else serve as their buddy to help them get a smooth start with learning their role and connecting with the team on a social and relationship type level, on a personal level is super important.
Wendy Briggs:
Dr. John, one of the big ideas that was shared at this last year's summit was to do positive post-it notes. That's yet another example of ways that we see our teams increasing the level of connection they have for each other. So the key there is to catch people doing something right.
When we go check in at hotels, the Hilton or the Ritz Carlton, they often have those card boxes up at the front desk, where catch our team doing something, and you can fill in the employee's name and put it in the box. It's kind of our version of that. And I visited a few practices lately that had, I guess, latched onto that idea at the summit and implemented themselves. And I was able to take some pictures of their positive post-it boards, and it was so fun to see the things that they were celebrating each other for. That is how they establish connection.
There's so many different ideas that are shared amongst our members, especially at our retreats and our events that can help improve connection. Like you mentioned, sometimes people may feel like, hey, I'm here to work and not make friends. And in my experience, I understand the thinking behind that. They do want to be focusing on getting their work done. They don't want to get caught up in the office drama. But there is a way to have connection without the drama. And I think honestly, if we focus on connection, we're going to have less drama because we are connecting them on a human level.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah, no doubt. And having that culture, having those little post-it, caught you doing something right cards, such a great thing to build culture and connection because the entire team is giving appreciation, is recognizing great behavior, which just reinforces it. And what you reinforce happens more and more. So it's a great way to make people feel appreciated, to make them feel a part of fulfilling the purpose, and a part of them having the sense of mastery and getting better. So yeah, really cool ideas.
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, we love that. And there's so many more we could talk about. Again, we try to keep these podcasts relatively short. We know some of you listen on your way to the office, or you might be listening while you're hitting the treadmill, or listening on the way home from work. But we do have a couple things I want to share with our listeners today, Dr. John.
We have an amazing workshop in conjunction with the Dental Well Business Summit that's going to be happening in Las Vegas in September, 2022. So if you're listening to this podcast after that, hang tight, we've got something else for you. But we are going to be doing a full day on the hiring and developing a world class team where we talk about eight Cs. So some things we talked about today; clarity, communication, connection, core values, culture, consistency, all of those things that can really help you establish systems as you're hiring new team members and developing ones that you have.
So we have a great offer for those of you listening today. We're going to add the link in the show notes. And the amazing thing is if you register to attend our workshop, you can attend the entire Business Immersion Summit at no charge. So we want to make sure our listeners have first crack at that opportunity.
Now, for those of you that are listening after that amazing meeting has taken place, we actually offer that eight Cs of hiring and developing a world class team as an in-office training. So if you're listening to this after that September 22 date, we want to make sure you have the opportunity to do that as well. So we will put in the homepage of the show notes as well, information where you can schedule a call and get all the information about doing a hiring and onboarding training in your practice.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah, that's awesome. Lots of opportunity to improve this, lots of good experiences that will help you put this in place in your offices so that your team performs at a higher level so that you have a better patient experience so that you can have a better practice.
Wendy Briggs:
Yeah, we love that. If you have anyone that's quiet quitting in your team right now, probably the first thing to do, Dr. John, would you say? I would say the first thing I would do, as of the next morning huddle, start doing the positive post-its. Introduce that, catch somebody doing something right, establish connection right away. That's a quick and easy thing that you could do to turn that around.
And then the next team meeting you have, I would do some type of measure. We have a quiz, for example, that will help everyone rate their own employee engagement, their team engagement. So that's something I would do as well, just to get your finger on the pulse of what's happening in your practice so that you can minimize, right the ship before it becomes a disaster in your own practice. Anything you would add to that, what could they do right now?
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah. Another thing that you can do is use the communication piece. And that is if you have the sense that someone is becoming disengaged or is not performing in the way that they have in the past, you can sit down and have a conversation and just simply say, "Hey, I noticed this is going on, and I know this isn't like you, so there's something going on. And I just want to see if there's something that I can do to help you. If there's something I need to know, if there's something that you need to get off your chest, I'm here to listen. I want you to be successful here. I want our patients to have a wonderful experience, and I want to do it together."
And just beginning a conversation in that way can open things up. You may learn some things that the practice can do better. You may learn some things that you as a leader can do better. And obviously part of our job as leaders is to help our team members become more successful. And having conversations like that where you listen, where you care, and where you want to make sure that you're doing everything you can as a leader to give the resources and support that your team members need to perform at the very highest level.
Wendy Briggs:
Awesome stuff. Thanks again, Dr. John. It was a great conversation today and hopefully our listeners got a lot out of it.
Dr. John Meis:
Yep. Thanks everybody for being on this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast. We'll see you next time.
Wendy Briggs:
Thanks everybody.
Dr. John Meis:
All right, very good. We're still recording and I can't figure out how stop recording, so-

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