EP 96: Staffing Problems? (Answers Inside)

It seems like every doctor we talk to these days has a similar problem: they’re struggling with finding and building a team. We’re seeing signs on front desks saying, “Please sign in and have a seat. We’re short-staffed today.”

So, what’s the solution?

In this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs are sitting down with team performance expert, Daren Baird. Daren has consulted with some of the top dentists in the US as well as Fortune 500 companies and brings a new, valuable perspective to team building in dental practices.

With his vast experience, he’s able to see things differently and solve team problems faster.

Listen now to discover:

  • Why some practices are growing by leaps and bounds after Covid, while others struggle
  • How to avoid common (and costly) hiring mistakes
  • How one missing conversation is likely at the root of nearly all your staffing problems
  • How to make sure your staff show up physically AND mentally (the secret is to “tend”)
  • And much more …

Dr. John Meis:
Very good. Welcome everybody to this addition of the Double Your Production podcast and this one's being delivered on Facebook Live. I'm Dr. John Meis here with Wendy Briggs. How are you, Wendy?
Wendy Briggs:
Doing well. Thanks Dr. John. It's a great day.
Dr. John Meis:
Very good. Could you introduce our guest?
Wendy Briggs:
Yes. I'm so excited that we have the one and only Darren Baird with us today. Darren and I have known each other for several years and he's been invited to one of our speakers at the Summit. And one thing that Darren does incredibly well is he works with organizations of all sizes, small, mid, and large organizations to really focus in and help them improve their growth and their organizational performance. He's done this with dental industry experts, but also a lot of organizations outside of our industry. And I know that our listeners today, as well as our attendees at the Summit are in for a rare treat because he brings a lot of experience and knowledge about how we can continue to grow and is going to be sharing his championship growth formula with us at the Summit. But we've asked him today to give us a little bit of a sneak peek. So how did I do Darren? Is there anything else that you feel like people should know about you before we jump in?
Darren Baird:
I'll send you my Venmo in just a few minutes. You did an amazing job. Yeah, no, thank you so much, Wendy, Dr. John, it's so good to be with you guys today. I'm so excited to join everybody at Summit in San Diego. Come April, we're going to have an amazing time and I'm so grateful and honored to be invited to come along. So thank you.
Dr. John Meis:
Thanks for joining us.
Wendy Briggs:
Great. So Darren, we've talked a little bit about our organization and our members and dentistry, and I know you have a breadth of experience in the dental industry. And so I know that some of your insights are going to be really, really great to help our members grow. And we were visiting yesterday a little bit about some of the challenges that dentists are having today. And it seems like every place we turn, there's a struggle with teamwork, team cohesion, even staffing a team. How can we grow if we don't even have enough people to serve our patients? We're seeing dentists place signs on their front desk saying, "Please sign in, have a seat. We're running short staffed today." Just like we see in many other businesses, right? We're seeing that across all spaces. So, what insights do you have to share with our listeners today on maybe little known tricks or tips that can help them really move their organization forward, even when it's not an ideal situation or ideal circumstance?
Darren Baird:
Wendy, I love your and Dr. John's insight to current trends, things that are impacting not only us globally, but particularly in the dental industry. The impact that COVID has had has changed the way we need to think about and the way we go about business. It has had a huge impact in staffing again, across the globe, certainly has had an impact in the dental space or the dental industry. Supply chains are disrupted and those who not only are going to continue to survive, but thrive have really got to be proactive about thinking about the way they're approaching their business. One of the most important things in any organization, and I know that this rings maybe even more true in the dental space than anything else, is culture reigns supreme. How do we work together as a team? How do we get along together as a team?
And certainly even having a complete team is so incredibly important. There's a couple of key concepts that I talk about with my clients all the time and culture certainly is one of those key things. When we look at staffing shortages to begin with, one of the things that we need to think a little bit about is even root cause. Have we lost employees due to culture, due to environment? Are they going other places? And so when we really start thinking about, we've got to pay attention first and foremost to the team that we have, we're going to start putting ourselves in a better place. Then we can actually start thinking about the strategy of putting new people in. I want to share with you just really quickly, a quick story.
I walked into to a CEO client's office of mine one day and he had kind of reached his breaking point with one of the employees and was adamant that he was ready to fire this individual. And I said to him, "Okay, well, why are you so ready to move on from this individual?" And he said, "Well, he's not doing A, he's not doing B, and he's not doing C." And I said, "Fair enough. Will you let me go talk to this individual real quick before you pull any triggers?" He said, "Sure, do whatever you want, but I'm still firing him." So I grabbed this individual, I went and sat down with him and I said, "Hey, how are things going?" And that doesn't sound... It wasn't as much of a social introduction as it seems. I was genuinely curious to how he would respond to that. You know what his response to me was? "Great." Here we have an employee who literally is on the chopping block and from his perspective, things are great.
And I said, "That's good news. Why?" And he said, "Well, I think I'm doing really well at X, Y, and Z." And the alignment just wasn't there. So I left that office. I went back into the CEO's office and I said, "You can't fire him." And I said, "And if you do, something has to change about what we're doing here and the way we're communicating and building culture and managing expectations. Because if you fire him and you go hire somebody else, we're just going to continue to repeat the same problem." So I want everybody to really understand that connection that when we're dealing with staffing shortage, have we got things internally set the right way? Do we have a culture in which we can now bring somebody in where we can be happy with them and they can thrive because if we don't fix that first, it doesn't really matter what we do in terms of continuing to try to fill vacant spots.
So, we talk a lot about the concept of the idea of attendance. The word 'attendance' means to care for and nourish. So we've got to attend the things that are most important to us, and if we're not attending to the culture, and if we're not taking time to up level and train our employees and work with them to provide a great environment, we've got to get that right first. Then we can actually start thinking about solving the problem of staffing shortages. But if we put the cart before the horse, we're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah. Well, I love this, Darren. Wendy and I have been kind of preaching the same thing that if we're short on team, make sure that we keep the team that we have, that we upgrade what we do so that we're better leaders, that we have a better employee experience that we are able to develop them. I absolutely love that. And I love the attendance. That's often thought of, do my employees come to work? That's one meaning of the word, but you gave us another one. I love that.
Darren Baird:
Well, Dr. John, it's interesting because I've been fascinated and I got your body language when I brought it up. And you're like, "Ah, yes." It's interesting. If you look at the definition of attendance in the dictionary, it has this notion of physically in my seat. But when we look at the root word, the root word of attendance is tend and tend is a verb. You look at the definition of tend in the dictionary, it says to care for and nourish. So John, it is about a physical attendance, but it's also about a mental attendance. And it's one of the things that I'm such a massive fan of the Team Training Institute, because you guys are an outside source that helps people, number one, know what we need to be paying attention to and focusing on and then you can help support that as well.
I'm so grateful for all of the work that you guys do in supporting these dental practices to continue to achieve high level performance and productivity. But John you're exactly right. The fact of the matter is if we... It's difficult, because hiring shortages are just, again, it's a global repercussion of the pandemic. It's just, people are struggling all over. All of my clients in every industry are saying we're having a really hard time, A, even filling jobs, let alone finding great talent in which to do it. So I know that can be a struggle or a challenge, but if we don't have the right environment and the research shows us that people are sticking to their job, more so about culture and the environment that they work in than the paycheck itself. That's the scientific evidence to that concept. Now we've got to be competitive in what we're paying but we've got to make sure we get that culture right.
Dr. John Meis:
One of the things that you said, Darren, that I really like in your story was, and I find the same thing when there was a problem between two people, almost always, not always, but almost always it's a conversation that didn't happen that should have. Somebody should have said something at some point. So in your example, and it's a great one, and we see it in dental practices all the time where there is the dentist or manager is unhappy with one of their teams, but they've never sat down and created clarity, had that real conversation. And when you do that most of the time, but not always most of the time, the problem solves itself.
Darren Baird:
You're absolutely right.
Wendy Briggs:
You talk so much as well about preserving the mental energy of the doctors and you both have referenced that here today. And one of the things that you teach is the importance of reducing those mental energy drains, one of which is frustration, and I think dentists today, this is a real threat to performance, is allowing the negativity or the continued frustrations with a team member or that conversation that hasn't happened yet to bubble up and zap so much of the mental energy. We hear a lot from doctors that are almost physically stressed because they can't find people to hire or hygienists or associates or what have you. And so then they end up hiring a warm body, right that has a pulse.
And because they don't have the culture and the environment sorted out, it only adds to more frustration, which we see this kind of downward spiral. They make the situation worse. So, it's so important to be mindful of all of those things, right, and not allow the continued frustrations to happen and maybe that solution is a conversation obviously before we just let them go and fire people. We see that a lot as well. Sometimes it's not the person necessarily, it's a lack of clear system and expectations in that job.
Darren Baird:
Wendy, I just recently finished reading Harvard Business Review, a book on coaching employees. And one of the references they use is intent versus impact. And the suggestion is is that most people have good intent, even the employees, they want to do a great job, not even just for their own self-preservation of the paycheck, but they generally want to show up and do a good job, but intent doesn't always meet impact and there's a variety of reasons why. Number one, Dr. John, to your point or observation is mismanagement of expectations, right? The conversation that should have happened. Secondarily Wendy, what's interesting is again, the scientific governing principle is those things we focus on grow. So when I'm stressed and when I begin to worry about a particular thing that's behind the scenes now as a dentist or a hygienist or a front desk personnel or an office manager, when I'm chairside, or when I'm greeting a client or when I'm working in somebody's mouth, I'm stressed about what just happened or what's going on or what I need to do.
And my production then begins to, my productivity, my efficacy, my production begins to reduce. Then that now creates this eddy where we just continue to sink further and further. So it's interesting, if we can kind of get to the root cause, and there's some really kind of simple things, again, a lot of them I'm going to be talking about at Summit in relationship to what are the simple, easy things that if I can invest in 10, 15 minutes a day that start to create this upward trend. Now all of a sudden I'm chairside and I'm a little bit happier and I'm engaging with the client with my patient a little bit better, and we do a little bit better work and on the way out the door that client says, "Oh my gosh, what a great experience I love this practice."
And now all of a sudden we get this process of upward trend of productivity and achievement. It's so hard to get in these downward troughs because they're hard a lot of times to get out of because they have such this massive impact across the board. But the good news and the relief for everybody is with some really key, simple, easy to execute strategies, we can start to reverse that trend, build better culture. Then we can focus on hiring practices, which I'll talk quite a bit about at Summit as well, of ways that we can actually engage in activities that allow us to find and source better employees with regularity.
Wendy, I kind of smiled again when you said, "We get at this point where we just hire a warm body." I was literally with a client and I asked the question one day, I'm like, "What is our hiring criteria? What are we looking for in our employees?" And one of the leadership literally laughed and said, "Can they fog a mirror?" Okay, we've got some work to do here. So yeah, what's interesting about the dental space is it's humans working in business and we just see common trends across all brands, all businesses, consumer businesses, business, to business businesses. The trends are very common.
Wendy Briggs:
Awesome. So I love that and I can't wait to dig into some of those strategies in some, because it definitely is needed now. Dr. John and I kind of laugh because it seems like every time we turn around our coaches, when we say, "What are people struggling with?" It's like, oh, they can't find people. They got team leaving. And we're like, seriously, it's Groundhog day for us. It seems like we've been talking about this for the last year and a half without fail. But I think what's awesome about your message is you get it too, right? Like you said, there's a lot of similarities and you're working, not just in dentistry, but in other industries. And so there may be some things that other businesses have figured out that we don't know about and I'm excited to learn about that.
And certainly not just the hiring side, but the actual high performance side, because I'm certain that you've worked with individuals in your career that truly are exceptional with the level of performance that they're able to achieve. And so what I want to know, I love to study the outliers, right? The people that are doing things far differently than the masses, what I want to know is what they do differently. Are there things that you've taught people to do that have radically transformed their own impact in their roles? And certainly I want, I hope that you share some of those with our people as well.
Darren Baird:
Yeah, Wendy, it's interesting when you talk about outliers, Sean Achor in his book, The Happiness Advantage, talks about what scientists look for and what trends. And typically scientists like to study the trend, and then we've got these outliers on any trend, right? Exceptionally high performers or exceptionally low performers. And a lot of times the scientists kind of tossed that out as random data. And Sean Achor said the high, the very, very high performers are the people I'm interested in. That's what I want to look at. I don't want to look at this average trend. This is what I want to look at. Here's the great thing, Wendy, to your point. And literally the word came to my mind is there's hope for any dental practice, for any organization, that's struggling with some of these concepts that we're talking about. There's hope.
We're going to talk about scientific principles, Wendy, that again, has led me in my career for the last 15 years to share concepts and ideas with my clients. But it's maybe stuff that they've heard before, and it's easy to shrug our shoulder and say like, I know that, but the question is, do you do it with regularity? Are you disciplined? John Wooden said, "The simple things are vital. They make big things happen." The repetition to the most fundamental governing principles are what very often lead us to high success and performance. And most importantly, again, I think the message for all businesses, particularly in the dental space is there's hope. And that's exactly what we're here to help with is provide that hope, provide some very key, tangible exercises that will lead to that high performance. High performance, Wendy, is literally a result of adherence to natural law.
When they're governing principles and we adhere to them, we will receive the gain from them, but if we don't, we can't and performance is a science that has been studied literally for centuries and it's not random. We don't fall into it. We don't just cross our fingers and hope. If we adhere to natural law, we will be the beneficiary of those results. And so we'll talk about again very simple, easy, very low time investment principles that with regularity and discipline, and then an increase of skill comes with it, there's hope. And we're going to share that and it's going to be amazing.
Dr. John Meis:
That sounds great. I can't wait.
Wendy Briggs:
Well, perfect. Well, thanks so much, Darren, for joining us today. Again, we love to have a few of these interviews ahead of time so that people know what to expect and they can get excited about coming to the Summit, but also, we have a broader audience than just those that come and attend our live events. And I think it's important for everyone to hear of the message of hope, for sure. And as well, get some guidance as to how they can thrive, continue to thrive in spite of challenges. Our theme for the Summit this year is sailing the seas of opportunity. And we know there's rough waters there. It seems to be different storms appear at different times, but I'm delighted that you're on board and that you're going to be talking with us because I think absolutely the practices that do come and apply those principles and become disciplined and flex their muscles in those way will see additional performance and growth. And that's what Summit is all about.
Darren Baird:
Yeah. I'm so excited.
Dr. John Meis:
Yeah. All right. Well, thanks so much, Darren, for being with us today. We look forward to seeing you at the Summit and learning much more from you. So thanks everybody for being on this episode of the W Production Podcast. We'll see you next time.
Darren Baird:
Thank you.
Wendy Briggs:
Thanks Darren.

Resources:

1. All listeners of the Double Your Production Podcast are invited to schedule a customized Practice Analysis Amplifier where we will review your current production and create your personalized roadmap for doubling your production. Click here to schedule.

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3. Follow us on Facebook for live updates: https://www.facebook.com/TeamTrainingInstitute/