Letting Go is the Fastest Way to Grow Your Practice

In this episode, Dr. John Meis discusses how to grow your dental practice by letting go.

He discusses one common habit that holds dentists back from running the kind of dental practice they dream of. Instead of building a thriving, productive practice, growth plateaus.

Watch now to learn how to let go and remove those common blockages to growth and progress.

Hi, this is Dr. John Meis, and I wanted to do another session of the mindset of the effective dental executive, and this one is on letting go. One of the major things that we see holding dentists back is that they tend to be somewhat micromanaging and somewhat individualistic. So, here's the thing, all the dentists got to their place by hard work and determination, right? They were just driving, they got good grades in school, right? They worked so hard to get into dental school and they studied hard, they got their license, they went through boards, they did all this. It was all on them. They decided to buy a practice or join a practice or build a practice, and it's all them, all on them, right? So, they have this all on my shoulders mentality all the way into their career, and that mindset will carry you only so far. At some point you will become the blockage to your practice's growth. At some point you're going to have to let go, and that's what I want to talk about today.

One of my early mentors, Brian Tracy, taught me a lesson that I found very valuable. He said to pick an amount of money that you want to make every year and figure out the hourly wage that you would get to do that and then don't do any work that you can hire someone to do for less than that hourly wage, right? So, back in the day, I set a goal of $250,000 of personal income, which is $1,250 an hour, and that changed my whole thinking, right? So anything that I considered to be work that I could hire someone to do for less than $1,250, I hired it. So all of a sudden I'm not trimming hedges. I'm not mowing the lawn. I'm not cleaning the pool. I'm not ... Right? I'm not doing any of those things because I don't enjoy those things. If you enjoy those things, go ahead. I don't enjoy those things and I thought of them as work. I spent that time on planning. I spent that time on learning and reading. I spent that time on improving our systems and processes in the offices.

So, that's where I came up with this concept from a great mentor. When I go into practices, and I've been in 310 practices on three different continents and five different countries, and I similar things happening in the lower performing practices where doctors are just not letting go, right? Some of the things that I see are doctors still involving themselves in the scheduling, even schedule watchers that are watching the schedule and saying, "Oh, that's not going to work. That's not ... " They're involving themselves in the schedule, they're involving themselves in ordering of supplies, right? I know dentists that are still writing their own checks. Now, I'm not talking about signing checks, I'm talking about doing all the bookkeeping that's required for that. I know doctors that are still involved entirely in hiring, sending ads, getting people to work in the office.

So when I started to apply Brian's principles to the office, the question I had to ask is, as a dentist, what am I required to do by law and how can I delegate everything else so that I'm doing only those things that are using my level of expertise, my degree, my license? So I started to look at things very, very differently. It took me years really to perfect this, but I had to get things off of my plate, onto other people's plates. So I had to delegate. Anyone who begins to delegate runs into one of these thoughts. I can promise you, you will too. As you delegate at a higher and higher level, you will come into one of these thoughts. One of them is, "Oh I don't want to delegate it because I can just do it faster myself." Yes. You're going to think that way.

Another one is "I can do it better." Now, what I learned about the "I can do it better" was anytime I did any kind of project or anything, and when I got all the way done and it's implemented and it's going and I look back on it, I always find that there's things I wish I would've done a little bit differently, right? So I always think about 20% of the stuff, if I would've done it a little bit differently, it would have been better. So we change those things, right? Here's the thing. When I have other people do projects for me, they often get it 80% of the way there, but the 20% they missed would be different than the 20% that I would have missed and then I judge their 20% even though I would've had the same result. So I had to get out of that mindset that I could do it better than everybody else. The last trip up that you're going to have is that, "Gosh, it takes so much time to train someone to do this. I don't have time to do the training." Well, that's the definition of out of capacity and if you're out of capacity, you are the blockage.

So when we begin delegation, there's really multiple stages of delegation you could do, and you should remember this because this makes a big difference on how people accept challenges and accept delegation. Number one, the first level of delegation is just have someone think through a project or think through something that needs to be done and come to you with the plan, right? You can see whether the plan is on track or off track, you can give them some guidance, you can ask them some questions and let them carry it onto the next step. The next step is, in delegation, would be to have someone plan it and start it, right? So just get moving on it, then come back and show me what you've done and I'll give you some guidance and direction. When people have done that repeatedly and you're starting to trust their judgment, then you can go to stage three. Stage three is go ahead and plan it, get started. When you're halfway done, bring it to me so I can give you some guidance. I have many people on my team where we talk about what I want to accomplish, they create the plan, they go through and finish it. They don't need any of my direction anymore because their judgment has improved by having things delegated to them. It's the only way to get people there.

But I want to be clear, when you do delegate things ... I love Ronald Reagan's quote. He said to Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, that when they had a missile compact and they were going to reduce the number of nuclear missiles, he said, Yeah, we trust each other, but we're going to verify." Trust, but verify. So we want to make sure that when we delegate something, that we have a clear outcome that is measurable. We want to make sure that there is a sense of time. This needs to be completed in a certain amount of time and in that certain amount of time you are checking those outcomes to make sure you're getting the outcomes that you desire. You also helps to have third party verification. You don't actually have to do this verification and measurements. Other people on the team can do that. It's just people can't do it for themselves. It's accountability.

The last one is, when we begin to trust and verify, one of the things I want everyone to be cautious about is when they start to give people access to the checkbook and bookkeeping, is that we keep a very, very close eye on that. There isn't any profession or business that is more embezzled from than dentistry, I don't think, and so make sure that you have good controls that limit your risk. I think when we're putting people in positions where they have temptation, we're being unfair, right? So we want to make sure we have our systems and processes in place that eliminate or greatly reduce that temptation so that a person in a bad spot, on a bad day, doesn't make a mistake that could destroy their whole life. So, letting go is an important component of becoming a more effective executive. I hope these ideas help you.