7 Simple Steps to Successfully Initiate Change with Your Team

December 30, 2022 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Change can be difficult even when it has benefits for everyone.

Some people are simply averse to any kind of change. As a result, we may encounter pushback from staff while attempting to initiate changes in protocols, practice policies, or practice systems. Anticipating and preparing for potential negative feedback is the best way to defuse staff concerns and smooth the way for needed change.

There are two prerequisites to navigating change successfully. First, the staff must believe that we have their best interest in mind. This is a matter of trust that is developed over time. Secondly, the staff must feel safe in offering unfiltered feedback before and during the change initiative. As the leaders of our practice, we are responsible for creating a practice environment that makes both of these essential prerequisites possible.

The following suggestions will prove helpful in developing a change strategy.

1. Be prepared.

Before introducing any change initiative, we must have clarity regarding the necessity and advantages of the proposed change. Painting a clear picture for the staff that includes the specifics and anticipated benefits is an essential first step. Anticipating the staff’s concerns and potential questions as well as our response will help in creating a smooth presentation. Set the expectations for how everyone might feel throughout the different stages of the transition, for example: resistance, frustration, skepticism, excitement, relief, and high energy.

2. Seek early adopter support.

Identify those people that are likely to support your ideas and seek their help in moving a change initiative forward. Most likely, these will be the leaders of the clinical and administrative staff. Collaborate with them in creating the best possible change model. By allowing them to contribute their input, they are much more likely to buy into the concept.

3. Present the change Initiative with humility and transparency.

“My way or the highway!” is the worst possible way to present any significant change. We gain acceptance by being as transparent as possible and patiently addressing staff questions and concerns. Seek collaboration and request input. Be more coach-like by using open-ended questions to draw out their underlying concerns, for example, “What concerns you about this?” and “What would need to happen for you to feel better about this change?”

4. Ask for their help.

There is something about asking for help that creates buy-in. Let your team know that you cannot achieve the desired result without their help. If the intended change is experimental in nature, let the staff know that it is reversible if the desired results are not achieved. Ask them how they think that they can positively contribute and re-affirm how important their role is in the process.

5. Consider scheduling more frequent staff meetings during periods of change.

Depending on the nature of the anticipated change, more frequent staff meetings may be necessary to address concerns and problems that may arise. For example, changing practice computer software seems to be problematic and frustrating for both clinical and administrative staff. Allowing more time to address the technical issues and frustrations of the staff has proven to the most effective means of addressing both issues.

6. Check in frequently with the staff:

Although checking in with our staff should be a common practice, it is most beneficial during periods of change. Simple questions like “How is it going?” or “What do you need from me now?” are a quick and simple way of letting your staff know that you recognize and appreciate their efforts in making the change a reality.

7. Celebrate the staff’s accomplishment:

Whenever the change is fully implemented there should be time for celebration. Consider doing something special for the team as a means of recognition for a job well done. An appropriate bonus and/or a special event away from the office are ways of expressing gratitude. Never pass up celebrating a team’s successful effort in achieving change.

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About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Retirement – Life After Dentistry

January 16, 2020 North Shetter DDS

On January 10th, 2020, The Wall Street Journal published an article on the changing patterns of retirement. It is worth a look. After 43 years in the world of dentistry, I have now survived three years as a “retiree” and have a few comments about preparing for and transitioning into this significant life event.  

Preparation Tips 

  1. Before you “pull the plug” on work, start to figure out what you would like to do when you have more time. My unhappy retired friends generally failed to do this. I suggest you build on the things you like to do. Include personal time and together time with your spouse. Look forward to a new challenge such as learning a new language or trying your hand at gardening. If you are not now in a service club or a similar group, you will have the time to try that.  
  2. With your spouse, discuss how you will manage money. Long before retirement, create your retirement budget and financial growth plan. The Pankey Institute curriculum will help you with this.  
  3. Be genuinely interested in others. The happy retirees I have met talk much more about the new friends they have made than about themselves. They are outward-focused and active listeners.   

Transition Tips 

  1. Create a schedule and stick to it. If you used to get up at 5:30 am and liked doing so, don’t change. Just get up and do something you did not have time to do in the past.  
  2. Be committed to your plan. Intentionally stick to your financial and time management budgets.
  3. Stay involved in dentistry if you love itKeep your membership in organized dentistry and your study club. Be a mentor and continue to learn. If I am fortunate, I will help a few young dentists be more successful and avoid some of the errors I made. 
  4. Meditate on L.D. Pankey’s Cross of Life. Be committed to spending social time with your family and friends, even volunteer for their causes. And don’t forget your spiritual life. I’ve been amazed at the nice folks we’ve met at church who are interested in us as people and not as what we did in our careers

Final Thoughts 

If you are 30 and have not started to think about retirement, it is time to start. The successful economics of retirement takes time and commitment. If you are nearing the years when you will retire from practice, start thinking about your future lifestyle now. Keep in mind that a life well lived is happy oneContinue intentionally “giving back” after retirement, and you will continue to make memorable, good things happen for yourself and others. 

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About Author

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North Shetter DDS

Dr Shetter attended the University of Detroit Mercy where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1972. He then entered the U. S. Army and provided dental care at Ft Bragg, NC for the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. In late 1975 he and his wife Jan moved to Menominee, MI and began private practice. He now is the senior doctor in a three doctor small group practice. Dr. Shetter has studied extensively at the Pankey Institute, been co-director of a Seattle Study Club branch in Green Bay WI where he has been a mentor to several dental offices. He has been a speaker for the Seattle Study Club. He has postgraduate training in orthodontics, implant restorative procedures, sedation and sleep disordered breathing. His practice is focused on fee for service, outcomes based dentistry. Marina Cove Consulting LLC is his effort to help other dentists discover emotional and economic success and deliver the highest standard of care they are capable of.

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