Episode 488: A Connection Check-in

Question: How often should leaders check in with their team members?

It’s time to dive into the very necessary tête-à-têtes with your team members. Kiera shares her insight on what these one-on-one monthly check-ins with team members look like at the Dental A-Team, including what’s discussed, how skills are ranked, and why self-reflection is so important.

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0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent, and I have this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives, I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner, and I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled over 165 different offices coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental, and I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A teams, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.

0:00:51.9 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera and you guys talk about a great profession we get to work in, I just help you stop every so often and think about how great it is that we get to work in dentistry. Dentistry is a profession that I'm obsessed with. I think helping people have amazing smiles and oral health is the greatest thing we could do, and I get it, people think dental people are weird, we are a little weird guys, you have to be a little bit to be okay to work in people's mouths all day long, but at the end of the day, I just hope you remember how cool it is that we've literally get to change people's lives in the profession that we get to work in, so I hope you just take that, put it in your cap and have a really awesome day today, I also wanted to dive in today on how to do team member one-on-one check-ins, and I love this because one, I don't like to call it a review that feels kind of scary, but I also love the idea of checking in with your team members, every single month. I know we do it at Dental A Team, I'm not gonna lie, I love them and I don't like...

0:01:55.2 KD: The reason why is because I think it takes up so much time. It's usually a good four to six-hour block in my day, I do it the first Monday of the month, typically speaking, and what I found is that actually is the best use of my time connecting with each of my team members, finding out where they're doing well, finding out what they want to do, checking in with their goals, giving them feedback on where they can improve, I think it takes a lot of time, because in my calendar, when I see a six-hour block of just back-to-back and back calls, it's like, Wow, that's a full day, but then when I think about what's the impact of it, I realize that impact is actually what's going to keep my team, it's what's gonna retain my team, and I'm truly investing in them as people, not just having them as employees. So I would just encourage each of you to get these one-on-ones in play, so for us... There's a couple of different ways that you can do it. One is based on your KPIs or tasks. So for example, I have a departmental assessment form, I love these just to kind of be on task, if you guys want a sample, please email us [email protected] or download In the podcast show notes, it's the easiest way to go, guys.

0:03:01.0 KD: Just go to our podcast, anything that we got a link, they're already in their Sisi and Alex are fantastic, and we'll just add these forms for you so you can just go on our podcast tab at thedentalateam.com, click on the podcast, click on this episode and there's the download form for you, so this is a sample, we call it a departmental assessment form, and it is for the front office, so this is more task-based, not personality-based or person-based, and I actually like a mixture of both. In my 101 check-ins, so with this one, I want to check in, for example, for the front office, the first one says, I greet patients in a professional and cheerful manner based on the standards, scripts and protocol, and there's a one to five assessment there where they assess themselves of how they think they do it, I confirm appointments according to the standardized script 48 hours in advance, I answer incoming calls to the standardized script, I prepare the patient chart if applicable, I ask existing patients to verify insurance, any prior balances and personal information before sending to the back.

0:03:56.9 KD: Great, so they do all these things. You can shake these things up, I had an office they had these and then they wanted to see if the team actually read these questions, so they would change the questions every so often, and they were very subtle, just to see if the team members were paying attention and I loved that, but what's really cool about this is every single month that kinda gives a snapshot of what do you want that employee to be doing, and so that is, again, they should be assessing it and then you should be assessing it. So for example, before your team member comes in, you should rank them how you think that they do on a scale of one to five, that way you can kind of compare notes during their check-in to say like, "Hey, you're giving yourself a five, I'm giving you a three, let's chat about this and see where the disconnect is, maybe I'm not seeing it, maybe you're thinking you say it a certain way, you don't even realize the way it's coming across, so let's create a goal around that, let's give you some support and some resources that way we can help you elevate." It also helps the team members to reflect themselves, so for us in our company, every single month, we actually have them fill in their end of month.

0:05:00.1 KD: We call it an end of month check-in, you can call a one-on-one check, I don't care what you call it. I don't like the word review, I just like it to be a check-in, you're just checking in with team members, connecting with them, I might call it check-in and connection, something like that, because I really do wanna connect with each team member, and I think even the verbiage of saying it's a connection time versus just a check-in time, makes it feel like it's more about tasks and people versus just one. I have another office, they call it personal development program. So they call them their PDPs, so whatever you wanna do. But for us, we have our standards.

0:05:32.8 KD: For our consultants it's them hitting their monthly production amount that they are required to kind of like hygienist, that they check in with all their offices, that they complete their admin time, that they're on at least one coaching call with another consultant that they come to our consultant calibration and collaboration calls, and that they bring ideas. I purposely put it in there, like the letter says, a 10 consultant collaboration call and brought great ideas, the reason I put that on there, is 'cause I hate myself always having to bring all the ideas, I want my consultants thinking for that, so then we have all their items are followed up on, they responded to all their emails, they did their one-on-one check-in, they recorded podcast with me, they made newsletters for our company, they listened to the affiliate guest podcast that we have, 'cause we want our consultants all to be calibrated in top notch.

0:06:15.6 KD: And then if they have any offices that would be great to have on Dental A Team podcast, then I have them rate themselves on their core values, our core values are fun, impeccable with your word, do the right thing, ease, unconventional and passion for excellence, so they literally have to think about how do they rank up on that, and then I ask them, What is the one thing you're looking forward to personally and professionally for this coming with what's your goal of how you can add value to the company, what's an idea you have to make the company better. Any areas of concern and any support needed for your clients, what's your goal this month, personally, what's your goal professionally, what was a win from last month and then this last time... Because it was January, I had them set their goals. So that's literally what I do for their check-in, that's kind of how I walk it through, so you can see it's tasks, I wanna make sure that they're hitting their KPIs, consultants need to produce a certain amount, they need to retain their clients, they need to be delivering above and beyond, and they need to be actively contributing to the company's growth and success, that's their task, if you will, kind of like the front office, like I said, responding to emails, confirming calls, making sure doctors are scheduled to goal.

0:07:17.8 KD: But then I also add in there The... How do they rate themselves on the company core values, and then I do the same thing, and then I also love to hear what are they looking forward to, what's their goal of how they can add value to the company this month? What's an idea you have to make the company better. No, they don't always fill this in, but guess what, constantly asking for that feedback from the people that I care about the most, it helps us have great insider information into this one-on-one. Also, every single month, I can go back and look at it like I have team members right now that are wanting to work out and be healthier, and I've got some team members who are looking for a house, I've got some team members who are wanting to travel, I've got some team members who really just want to grow their bank accounts, like all these different growth ideas, but what's really cool is I can then give them feedback and we can set goals, what the company needs, and we can also set goals of what they want to do.

0:08:10.9 KD: So I love that I have them do a goal for this month, personally, and a goal for this month, professionally, we can obviously add to it, change it after our discussion, but I want each team member to self-reflect every single month, I'm super passionate about my team being personally invested in the growth, super passionate about them growing professionally as well, I also am passionate about giving consistent feedback, so we do this every single month it's based on their KPIs, key performance indicators. It's also based on our company core values. Have you guys heard, but really have you heard and are you the type of person that loves to take massive action? Well, if you are, I would love to invite you to Dental A Team's virtual summit, April 22nd through 23rd, and yes, right now, guys, it's early bird, that means it's $200 off the normal ticket price, you guys are going to learn how to optimize your practice this year, we know it's been a rough here, people have quit, we've had COVID, we've had changes, so we wanna teach you guys how to optimize within your practice now and execute, Friday is full team, Saturday is all things leadership.

0:09:13.5 KD: So bring your team, get some CE, take massive action head on over to thedentalateam.com, coupon code is Summitearlybird, and it's valid until March 31st, that's summitearlybird all one word, and it's valid until March 31st.So guys, head on over, I can't we to have you take massive action, optimize your practice and execute, let's make 2022 your best year. Then, like you guys have heard me say, twice a year, typically in May and November. I don't like it to be before quarter start or end, I wanna give myself a little bit of time, but that's basically mid year, and then at the end of the year as well, I ask them for... It's anonymous feedback, so we sent out a survey to our team and we ask them for feedback, I ask them how the company is doing, how they think they're doing... I do feedback on a lot of the team members, this is what we currently do right now, and it's really great because then we review it, we check to see where it can be, the main idea, these one-on-ones is consistent feedback, top to bottom, bottom to top side to side, I don't believe one person is above another person, I believe we should be giving each other feedback consistently, 'cause if we don't give people honest feedback of what they're doing well and where they can improve, guess what, we're just asking for nothing to change. Nothing to progress.

0:10:26.9 KD: So let me walk you through how it's semi-awkward when you have to tell somebody that you gave them a two and they gave themself a a five. So let's say, for example, I'll use Brit. Brit is one of our rockstar consultants. I adore Brit, Brit if any of you are lucky enough to have her as your consultant, you know that she's amazing. Also, I try really hard to convince Brit to move to Reno. I would love her to be next door to me, it'd be so fun, I might decide to move to Arizona to be next to Tiffany and Brit but Brit she is a Rockstar. So let's say I go down to her core values, that's a little bit easier as let's hope, let's say, I don't think Brit is very fun in our company, obviously, Brit is super fun, but let's say Brit gave herself a nine out of 10, and I gave her a four out of five, she might be having a bad go, she might be having a rough go, she just might not be very fun on calls, she might have that uncomfortable face. You all know what I'm referring to. I would wanna let Brittany now, it's super uncomfortable to have this, but it's easier if I rate it before I see Brit's numbers, so before my meetings, I usually try to go in and...

0:11:30.8 KD: And we have ours digital... So the girls all highlight, I shouldn't say girls, the ladies all highlight their numbers, and then I usually do my own color in pink, so that way I know I rated them versus what they rated themselves. And what's really great is I can be like, "Hey Brit, so you rated yourself a nine out of 10, on fun, I gave you a four out of 10 on fun, and this is why." And I wanna give her specifics, I don't want it to be something where I'm just saying this for the sake of saying it. I really want Brit to get some honest feedback of she might not know how she's presenting, she might not know how she's coming across, and letting her know like, "Hey, when we're in team meetings and you have your camera off and you make snarky comments, for example, at our last team meeting, when you said this, that eliminates the fun in our company." Great news is this is not Brit at all. I've never had to have this conversation, but I'm trying to give an example of if I did, how to do this because you wanna have specifics, because if you just say you're a four out of 10, they don't know why. Why is that?

0:12:28.9 KD: Also something we did is when I'm having people rate themselves, I wanna make sure it's very clear, so yes, I listed off our core values, but we also have a definition of what fun actually means, so I want my team to know what... " This is actually what I'm rating you on, it's not on the word fun," 'cause fun can be very much, I guess different, if you will, consistently, right. We can have a very different definition. The way I define fun versus the way you define fun. So for example, we have our core values and it says fun, so the definition of fun is... First of all, before we even go into that, it just says generally team's core values, our culture is an elevated experience, we dress elevated, we work elevated, we provide an experience that is elevated for our clients and our team, we co-elevate to lift each other, bring our best selves and elevate to our highest level together, so I already have that out there like they're already prepped and primed that all of this is an elevator experience, it's not just we come in and have fun and giggle hard, it's an elevated experience that we have.

0:13:26.7 KD: So under the word fun, our core value of fun is we love to laugh, enjoy and have fun daily, we have fun with our offices, our team and life, if we aren't having fun, why are we doing this? We are energetic, happy and approachable, we are optimistic, seeing the glass half full and are always looking for the good in life, we bring our best selves to each and every day, and ensure we are seeking to improve ourselves and each other. That's what we mean by fun. So by having it defined, now Brit can go and rate herself on how she thinks she lives up to that fun definition. I also have the same metric of grading her on this fun metric, so I'm then able to really... We're able to hone in. So I can say, Brit, bottom line is, when we say in here that we bring our best selves each and every day, when you have your Zoom camera off and you make snarky comments that is not seeing the glass half full, you are welcome to bring up opposing opinions, but the way you say it, it needs to be presentable, it needs to be approachable, energetic and happy.

0:14:23.2 KD: Right there, I already have the grading metric in there, right there, Brit already has the grading metric, it's not gray, it's not fluff, even though these are intangible areas, so I think between the two of having very specifics for your team members of, here's the tasks, so it's very clear. Like do you conform to 48 hours in advance? Yes or no. Do you make sure that we're scheduled to goal every day, yes or no, these are the tasks for that position, then we move into the soft skills that don't necessarily have a yes or no, but if we create a grading system, we then are able to grade on the exact same metric versus a variation of what Fun means, the fun thing is... Let me use the word fun again, I actually had the team co-create these definitions of what these core values mean, that way it wasn't just Kiera coming in and saying, This is what fun is, it was the entire team coming together, so I just wanted to give you guys kind of like how I do these one-on-ones, how I suggest you do these one-on-ones, again, I think it should be checking in and connection or connection, or maybe it's our connection check-in because it's a time to connect.

0:15:22.9 KD: It's a time to learn about these team members. Yes, I know a lot of doctors and office managers are very busy, so what I would suggest is as you get larger and larger team members, ideally, I would... I'm starting to... Haven't done it, I'm a little nervous to not hang out with them every single month, but I have Tiffany who's over our consulting team and Shelby who's over our entire company, actually do the one-on-ones without me. I'll go join a once a quarter, so the first month of each quarter, like when we're doing our traction meeting that's when I'll come in, so January, I wanna kick their goals off, I wanna know where they wanna go personally and professionally, that way I can look for opportunities as the owner of the company, but then from there, it's peer-to-peer connection, then twice a year, we actually have whole company feedback, I wanna know how I'm doing as a leader, I want them to rate me as well, so it's... How do they like my leadership, how do they rate me on fun, impeccable with your word, Do The Right Thing, ease, unconventional, passion for excellence.

0:16:14.5 KD: I think it's vital on these one-on-ones that feedback goes, like I said, top to bottom, bottom to top side to side basically an entire circle, so everyone's giving feedback to each other, guys, I'm not the best of the best. Yes, I have my job, my job is to be the CEO of this company. That does not mean that I do not want feedback, that does not mean that I should get feedback, that does not mean that I need to listen when feedback is given, I equally should be rating myself, and I do rate myself on the company Core values, sometimes I'm not very fun. Sometimes I don't have impeccable with my Word, so that also helps me make sure I'm living up to the core values, just like I'm expecting our team to do. So I would encourage each of you to try these one-on-ones, use your KPIs to incorporate into the one-on-ones and see 'em as a connection check-in versus a review or a time to tell them wrong. Get to know your team. It's gonna be one of the biggest things that game change your morale of your practice and get people to really thrive and flourish personally and professionally. As always, if we can help you out with this, we've hoped a lot of teams get this into play. Let me know, I'd love to help you [email protected] And as always, guys, thanks for listening. And I'll catch you next time on the dental A team podcast. And that wraps it up for another episode of The Dental team podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.



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