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Everything Dental Blog – Op-ed March 2015

No One’s Exempt

While consolidation has changed the dental landscape forever, many entrepreneurs, dentists and organizations are benefiting from this contraction. Additionally, the immense pressure to perform has triggered a period of reinvention throughout the dental community.

Today, firms are using real time data on demand to capture their business activity. They can view an entire dashboard of statistical and transactional data from one of their stores/practices in Delaware or North Carolina from their iPhone while they’re sipping a cocktail in Mexico!

“I don’t believe the future will be kind to just average and laggards. The urgency to evolve and pay attention to your business has never been more important!”  https://everythingdental.wordpress.com/

For the average person work is a job or career and for the exceptional employee or entrepreneur it is a way of life (who they are). Some careers are in big demand one day and lose their relevance the next. Some professions are held in high regard and maintain stature while other jobs are threatened by elimination, automation or the easing of regulation/licensing.

Today we see another business model spurting up. It has been coined the Sharing Economy! This new development represents peer to peer firms like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb that connect people to services/products, usually over the web or via a mobile device. These small businesses rely on reviews and ratings if they are to grow – thereby supporting the old adage that people do business with whom they trust. For more info on this intriguing movement check out the article by Joel Stein of Time magazine http://time.com/3686877/uber-lyft-sharing-economy/

Dating back to earlier times a man’s brute force and size would have given him an edge. Today, those same attributes may do well for sports and construction careers but are not held in high regard for high tech, healthcare or financial firms.

There are external forces affecting change in the dental workplace today. Governmental regulation, state dental association rulings, market pressures, smart dental equipment, customer demand and the need for speed will shape our future. While there are many forces outside of our control, there is one very critical factor that is completely on us. That is, how relevant and valuable we are to our current employer/organization?

Certainly a dentist/practice owner will be judged according to their character, ethics, clinical skills and business acumen. However in the world of small business (group dentistry) and brass knuckles, we want to know your actual value to the organization. Look around your office and pretend for a moment that the business was now owned by a multi-national conglomerate. Do you think the hierarchy of credentialing (V/P, office manager, Doctor, Dental Associate or licensed hygienist) would be a safety net? A good friend of mine became a VP a few years back and the following year he was dismissed from his fortune 500 employer. Regardless of your position within an organization take your role seriously. You must consistently execute and work well with others.

Are producers in an independent dental practice, group practice or corporate dental entity spared from data mining and production analysis? What if your office had two full time hygienists? Would you evaluate their clinical skills and compare their production numbers?

Here is the dilemma; one hygienist is thorough and uses the tools provided for her/him (X-rays, camera, carries detection, adjunctive oral cancer screening device etc…). She is certified in delivering local infiltration anesthesia/nitrous oxide, converts hygiene patients to perio patients and regularly identifies operative work! Her production and engagement exceeds industry norms. The other hygienist is very friendly, punctual and a team player but only cleans and polishes teeth. She is inconsistent about using the technology provided for her and doesn’t like to discuss perio or operative dentistry with patients. Her production numbers and engagement is south of industry norms and your standard of care mandate.

If you were the manager of this multi-national healthcare concern and you provided adequate training and resources, what would you do in this hygiene dilemma? As a dental care giver and business owner you want to provide safe and effective preventive, operative and cosmetic services efficiently and profitably.

Truth be told, many of the doctors I have met over the years are too forgiving or fail to address inconsistencies and challenges in their work place. Many dentists avoid confrontation and are uncomfortable with the leadership role. There was a time that I viewed this as a personal choice or a luxury that came with ownership. Today, subpar performance and mediocrity concern me. My clients depend on me to identify their weaknesses, strengths and opportunities so it’s very frustrating for me when I see lack luster effort. I believe my clients and their patients deserve better!

Data mining and the emphasis on greater profits/performance has always been at the heart of most businesses. The difference is real time data on demand. This is a relatively new phenomenon that continues to show kinks in our armor. Whether you are a mechanic at Firestone, a sales person at Best Buy, a barrister at Starbucks or an associate at some dental group your activity is being measured. In the future, such scrutiny will be used to ascertain the effectiveness in the service sector. We see this movement on the news every night as teachers and doctors and even the police are being scrutinized on their professionalism and performance.

We are entering a new era that will not be as forgiving to workers and care givers. We are in a hyper technological and competitive environment requiring companies to trim fat and costs that do not enhance the product or service. We have global competition, green initiatives, technological challenges and social pressures that have created this new normal. Whether your company is growing organically or by acquisition, rest assured that someone is assigned to measuring outcomes!

During my career I’ve heard associates and co-workers utter comments and advice to rookies like this: “Be sure to CYA (cover your ___)”, “Stay under the radar”, “Sit in the back”, “Don’t make any waves, just do your job and don’t say anything”… It is clear to me that those that fly under the radar and those that are comfortable with average will be rewarded by stagnation and dismissal in the future. Every job that can be replaced by software, automation, robotics or cheaper labor will be over time.

It’s important to maintain a good reputation at work, regardless of career. Most employers want positive and engaged employees. However, technology and hyper competiveness require organizations to reexamine processes for cost reduction and efficiencies. Likewise, this tech revolution has forced workers to reevaluate their careers. Will my job be here in five years? Will it yield the same income and will I derive the same satisfaction? Is there a course or some training I can take to advance my career, improve my performance or increase my income?

The takeaway: Be engaged, be relevant, deliver value, stay informed and embrace change. You’re future depends on it!

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