Zeroing in on Well Being at Work (Part 2): Gallup’s Universal Elements of Well Being

January 28, 2022 Bill Gregg DDS

Reading Gallup’s 2021 book Well Being at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, has challenged me to think about:

How do we develop a dental practice in which all team members thrive?

The things that immediately come to my mind for improving front office and clinical team morale are respect, appreciation, having a voice, genuinely fair compensation, and workplace flexibility to manage true personal urgencies such as illness and maternity leave–without feeling you are letting down the team. To reduce stress and enable all team members to do their best work and experience connection with patients, dentists can improve block scheduling to focus on doing more procedures in a single appointment while seeing fewer patients in a day.

Perhaps, more things will come to your mind.

5 Elements of Net Thriving Teams

Through millions of interviews worldwide, Gallup has found there are five universal elements of well being. Gallup says they are the five things that count most and that we need to focus on to develop “net thriving teams.”

Career well being: You like what you do every day.

Every day, you and your team members have opportunity to do the type of work that you individually do best and have unpressured time to do your personal best. As dentists, we often talk about doing more of the dental procedures we love doing most. What does each of your employees do best and want the opportunity to do more?

Social well being: You have meaningful friendships in your life.

For dentists, a meaningful friend is apt to be a like-minded colleague or mentor. Your best friends might be a “mental Board of Directors” — the voices of influencers you trust running through your head. But do all your team members have a meaningful friendship at work? Collaborating around a central philosophy of care helps build meaningful relationships.

Financial well being: You manage your money well.

As dentists, we talk at The Pankey Institute about defining for ourselves what is enough money to lead a balanced work life and personal life. It is also appropriate to talk about what is enough to maintain a practice in which every team member can financially thrive. As small, private employers, what changes and team buy-in might be required to wisely stay on track?

Physical well being: You have energy to get things done.

Eat properly, get healthy sleep, and exercise daily. Foster a spirit of health within the practice. Live it. Celebrate it. This will become part of the team culture that enhances the well being of everyone.

Community well being: You like where you live.

Humans innately strive to be part of something bigger than themselves and to support the social environment in which they work. Our practices are communities that often feel like large families. We can create and foster a practice vision that includes “being a thriving, supportive, well being community.” We can “write that on the wall” in our team meetings and in how we interact with each other and the patients we serve.

Closing Thought

A culture of well being puts overall well being upper most.

I encourage you to think and journal a bit about the actions you can take to support the five universal elements of well being…the five universal elements of a thriving life.

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About Author

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Bill Gregg DDS

I attended South Hills High School in Covina, Denison University in Granville, Ohio and the University of Redlands in Redlands, California prior to dental school at UCLA. My post-graduate education has included an intensive residency at UCLA Hospital, completion of a graduate program at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education ; acceptance for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD); and in 2006 I earned the prestegious Pankey Scholar. Continuing education has always been essential in the preparation to be the best professional I am capable of becoming and to my ongoing commitment to excellence in dental care and personal leadership. I am a member of several dental associations and study groups and am involved in over 100 hours of continuing education each year. The journey to become one of the best dentists in the world often starts at the Pankey Institute. I am thrilled that I am at a point in my professional life that I can give back. I am honored that I can be a mentor to others beginning on their path. As such, I have discovered a new passion; teaching. I am currently on faculty at The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education devoting 2-3 weeks each year to teaching post-graduate dental programs. In other presentations my focus is on Leadership and includes lifestyle, balance and motivation as much as dentistry.




There Are Multiple Paths to Happiness

January 3, 2022 Barry F. Polansky, DMD

Seventeen is young to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. Deciding you want to become a dentist means that you are making a huge decision before you are aware of all the knowledge you will have to attain and the multiple skills and micro-skills in which you will need to become proficient.

It was a long time ago when I made that decision. I can’t even remember how I made it. I remember I was under pressure to decide from my parents and their friends. I remember telling others I thought dentistry was a good career because I had spent so much time in dental offices growing up.

That’s because I had malformed supernumeraries blocking the eruption of my centrals when I was seven years old. The dentist who suggested the supernumeraries should be removed, proceeded to remove the two good centrals by accident. This was followed by surgery to remove the supernumeraries and alas no centrals. This was traumatic to me at the time, but early in life, I learned to adapt to a dental prosthesis, having that replaced as I grew, and so on.

I wish now someone had set me down when I was in high school and given me real-world career advice like I did for my kids as they were growing up. Hoping they could avoid some of the mistakes I made, I would begin those conversations with Stephen Covey’s habit #2: Begin with the end in mind. And I would disqualify money as an end. Because money only buys people what they really want. I’d get my kids to think about what they really wanted to spend their lives doing.

Warren Buffet says he wanted to make money so he could be independent. In his biography, The Snowball, Buffet wrote, “It could make me independent. Then, I could do what I want to do with my life. And the biggest thing I wanted to do was work for myself. I didn’t want other people directing me. The idea of doing what I wanted to do every day was important to me.”

There’s truth in that for me. Independence is a universal thought that drives many of us, yet we are unique in our own lives…in how we ultimately determine and design our game plan to live independently.

If we had understood what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives when we were seventeen, then we could have better designed our careers to meet our adult desires. But that isn’t realistic, is it? It sometimes takes decades to a lifetime to understand ourselves.

Adam Grant in his book Think Again questions the unreasonable question kids are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In his book, he uses his cousin Ryan as an example of someone who chose to go into medicine because that’s a profession parents applaud. Once Ryan made his decision, he spent years staying on track.

Once you start, there is no turning back…financial debt…sunk costs…physical, mental, and emotional. We hit a certain milestone like owning our own dental practice and we tell ourselves we will be happy… that we will have all the things we want. But positive psychologists confirm that this is a poor prescription for happiness.

Positive psychologists say the road to happiness includes mastery, autonomy, positive relations, engaging work, and accomplishments. It’s a never-ending road. But each person takes their own road. There are many roads of mastery, freedom, positive relations, engaging work, and accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying dentistry was a bad career choice for me. It is a great profession. The message of this blog is twofold. One, at the start of my predoctoral and doctoral education, at the start of my career in dental practice, and even midway through that career, I didn’t understand the complexity of what was before me–including getting to know myself well. And two, everyone needs to find their own happiness.

If you are reading this, you likely chose a career in dentistry. On your road of your own design, I believe you will find happiness in the continual act of mastering more, working with autonomy, fostering positive relations, and setting out to achieve new accomplishments. Money will be just a way to fund the things that really matter to you, and for many of you that will be making a profound difference in the health and lives of your patients. And when you segue, as I did, away from hands-on dentistry after practicing for four decades, you will find that new ways to use your people skills keep emerging. Your road to happiness continues.

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About Author

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Barry F. Polansky, DMD

Dr. Polansky has delivered comprehensive cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and implant dentistry for more than 35 years. He was born in the Bronx, New York in January 1948. The doctor graduated from Queens College in 1969 and received his DMD degree in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Polansky spent two years in the US Army Dental Corps, stationed at Fort. Dix, New Jersey. In 1975, Dr. Polansky entered private practice in Medford Lakes. Three years later, he built his second practice in the town in which he now lives, Cherry Hill. Dr. Polansky wrote his first article for Dental Economics in 1995 – it was the cover article. Since that time Dr. Polansky has earned a reputation as one of dentistry's best authors and dental philosophers. He has written for many industry publications, including Dental Economics, Dentistry Today, Dental Practice and Finance, and Independent Dentistry (a UK publication).