Monday, January 16, 2017


Soon the majority of dental team members will be Millennials, born between 1981-2000, reaching the ages of 17 to 36 in 2017. In fact, statistics show there are approximately 80 million Millennials in the U.S., and they will be about 50% of the workforce by 2020. Millennials are also known as Generation Y-ers because they follow Generation X who are turning 37 to 52 years old this year.

The majority of practicing dentists are Generation X-ers (37 to 52 y.o.) or Baby Boomers (53 to 71 y.o.). The priorities and work styles of these three generations are vastly different and can be quite puzzling and troublesome until the X-ers and Boomers learn more about the way Millennials were reared, their values, and factors that motivate them. (For brevity I will use M or Ms to speak of Millennials henceforth.)

A broad-brush look at M’s developmental years helps one understand M’s characteristics. In general, sociologists state the Ms were raised with constant parental attention, validation, and hovering over every detail of their young life and activities. Parents of Ms are often referred to as “helicopter parents.” Ms were taught that everyone is a winner, even deserving a trophy for participating in any activity, regardless of whether or not one actually won. Common Core educational standards often dictated team efforts to get more than one “correct answer” to any problem rather than one student working alone to get one correct answer. Failure was erased as a concept to the point that some school districts prohibited teachers from correcting papers and tests with red ink that might distinguish a less-than-perfect effort on the M’s part.

Never allowed to believe they would fail, Ms have high self-esteem and self-confidence, regarding themselves valuable to any organization. They like to work in teams and are excellent multi-taskers. Ms value flexibility of schedules, leisure time, after-work activities, continuing education, all forms of technology, especially social media, social events, and warm, family-like work environments. Properly motivated, they participate in office activities eagerly, contribute creative ideas in work situations, and expect to be listened to.

In summary, let me paraphrase one excellent online article, 10 Characteristics of Millennials, addressing M’s characteristics in workplace situations:
1.    Most Ms want a job that allows them to help other people by using their own talents and skills. In short, they want to matter, to be important to others.

 2.    Ms may challenge age-old boss-subordinate roles, responding better to working as a family-type unit in which the dentist coaches and mentors them, seeking their in-put and giving them frequent feed-back.
3.    Ms are most comfortable communicating via electronic devices and working with the latest technology. They want their office to have the latest and best online presence and feel great pride when the dentist invests in new dental technology.

 4.    Ms are hungry for learning. Intellectual stimulation is a top factor in motivating and retaining Ms. They want to know not only HOW, but also WHY, they perform certain tasks.

 5.    Ms are task oriented, measuring productivity by the work completed, NOT the amount of time spent doing it.

 6.    Ms crave constant feedback. Annual performance appraisals are no longer sufficient. Keep in mind that Ms better accept bite-size feedback and new challenges rather than stretch goals and changes that may overwhelm them. They accept negative feedback well only after hearing positive reinforcement about what they’re doing right in their job.

 7.    Ms have been trained early in life to expect immediate gratification, including recognition of their efforts now. They crave knowing the dentist appreciates and approves of their work. (If negative feedback must be given, reread the preceding paragraph.)

 8.    Ms are the most technically savvy generation. Seek their advice about all aspects of office technology—from website design and social media postings to discussion about new technology you, the dentist, are considering for use in the delivery of patient care. Obviously, the choice of new clinical technology is your decision, but the Ms like to be in on your research and reasoning.

 9.    Ms welcome change. Status quo, doing something because “we’ve always done it that way” makes little sense to a M. Even small changes, for example reworking the staff meeting schedule, can make a difference in their enthusiasm and participation. Ask for M’s ideas about procedure improvements or new processes in the office; then be prepared to listen well and take notes.

 10. Ms want to have fun in the office. A professional-yet-less-formal atmosphere suits the majority of Ms. Think about setting a budget for staff development, planning retreats, team activities, continuing education, charity dental care, and so on. Consider establishing a WE CARE TEAM to oversee such efforts with a couple of staff members to administer plans and costs.


As I researched the subject of Millennials in the workplace, I found copious material online simply by searching “Characteristics of Millennials”. Suggestion: if you have Millenninals on your team—and I imagine you do—peruse that topic online to learn more and obtain specifics that can greatly benefit your practice, enhance the sense of teamwork in your office, and, amazingly, increase overall productivity. You’ll find it well worth your time and effort.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


February of each year is NCDHM, a public health observance begun by the dental profession to publicize and promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their parents or caregivers, their teachers, and the general public.  Many dentists and team members take full advantage of this public awareness opportunity to promote their practice as one that focuses on oral health for all, beginning in childhood, rather than repair of dental disease.

NCDHM began as a one-day event on February 3, 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The American Dental Association held its first observance in 1949.  1955 saw the day-long event become a week-long effort, and in 1981 a month-long observance was begun.  Millions of Americans have been reached with NCDHM messages and materials, thereby emphasizing the importance of a lifetime of oral health, a necessity to maintaining overall physical well-being.

To call attention to your office as a community-wide resource for information and care to maintain oral health, make certain local media outlets receive articles and press releases about the ways your practice celebrates NCDHM.  Additionally, post news online and via other public outlets such as health club newsletters, library bulletin boards, hospital newsletters, Chamber of Commerce bulletins, etc.

Among activities and events, you may choose to sponsor coloring and essay contests, offer free dental screenings and hygiene care instruction along with toothbrush giveaways, participate in health fairs, display children’s museum exhibits, offer classroom presentations by the practice’s health educator or the dentist, and open your office at certain hours for tours.  Offer to mentor Boy or Girls Scout dental merit badge work and become a career counselor at local high schools.  The increased visibility of your office through such efforts as part of your celebration of NCDHM can become a dynamic marketing program, attracting adults as well as children to your practice.

The 2017 NCDHM theme, Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile, focuses on the value of water VS sweetened beverages and the reminder that if a community water supply is fluoridated or has natural fluoride, tap water adds an invaluable tool for the prevention of decay to the consumer’s diet.  Free posters, coloring sheets for down loading, and other resources for N nare  CDHM are available in English or Spanish at Also be sure to order extra toothbrushes from Practicon, Inc.  Check the catalog recently sent to your office to see our huge selection of top quality brushes with rock-bottom prices or shop online at

Monday, December 26, 2016


A friend reminded me recently of a little ditty we giggled about as children.  Perhaps it will take you back to some amusing time in your childhood:

“Old folks, young folks; everybody sing.

Daniel was a good man, but he did sass the king.

The king put him in a den with lions underneath;

But Daniel was a dentist, and he pulled the lions’ teeth.”




“A wise old owl sat in an oak.

The more he saw, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

Why can’t we be like that wise old bird?”

                                                           Richard Lederer in his book, The Gift of Age



“Last night I had a typical cholesterol-free dinner: baked squash, skimmed milk, and gelatin.  I’m sure this will not make me live any longer, but it’s going to seem longer.”

                                                           Groucho Marx



“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up on enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

                                                           General Douglas MacArhur


Monday, December 19, 2016


The holidays are a special time, often emphasizing care for the less fortunate, gift giving, and charitable donations.  There is simply more emphasis on generosity during this time of year. 

That being said, allow your mind to wander to the months ahead.  What will 2017 be like, especially in your office, among your team members?  Will you and your team retain the giving spirit so evident during the holidays?  Will you find ways to give back to your community?  Will you purposely plan ways to go the extra mile for those who need a hand up?  Will you pay it forward?  Will yours be an office noted in your community as a giving place, a dental practice that is known for charitable efforts and exceptional care beyond its own four walls?

Suggestion:  begin 2017 with a WE CARE attitude and, perhaps, a WE CARE FUND that can be distributed to worthwhile projects on which the team agrees throughout the year.  A fun, involve-all way to facilitate this WE CARE spirit in your office is the Pass It On project.

Give each team member an envelope containing $20 and an explanation similar to this:


Even though our lives are filled with many ups and downs, the truth is that we are blessed.  As we begin 2017, let’s make a special effort to share our blessings with others in our community.  The enclosed $20 gift to you is for you to use to help someone else.


We encourage you to seriously consider your options before you give away the $20 bill.  Maybe it could be a gift to a stranger, a friend, a co-worker, an organization, a house of worship, or an event.  Please use it as you choose, giving it solo or pooling your money with other staff members to accomplish a greater good.


We would like to know how the $20 bills are used.  Please write the story of your give-away anonymously, dropping the narratives into the box in the staff lounge.  We’ll share them during the next staff meeting.


This $20 is a token of what we hope will be an ever-increasing culture of generosity in our office.  Starting in 2017, let’s focus on giving to others in need---generosity around our community, our state, our nation, and the world.


This is a simple way to increase the sense of generosity in your practice.  With any encouragement at all, it may lead to other efforts during the year planned by the staff.  Your WE CARE FUND can be used in many ways, each project enriching team work and team sensitivity to helping others.  An attitude of WE CARE will infect every aspect of your practice in positive ways.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Many practice management articles, seminars, and newsletters suggest involving staff members in the practice in a more meaningful way, yet practical ideas of how to do so are often omitted from such advice. Please keep reading---you’ll find two easy-to-implement, practical ideas for use in your office. 

Strong interpersonal communications with your team plus demonstration of your appreciation for them is a vital ingredient to having the BEST practice staffed by the BEST dental team. In short, one can say, the health and well-being of your practice is a direct reflection of the health and well-being of the teamwork spirit and sense of positive morale among your staff.

During my 35 years of consulting, I’ve observed dentists saying, “You matter. You are important. I appreciate you and respect your professional skills.” to their staff in scores of ways. Here are descriptions of two ways that are most effective for team building and morale boosting. I’ve added the titles to the programs that these dentists began in an effort to strengthen every aspect of their practice.

Shopping Marathon: Tell your staff several weeks in advance that patients will not be scheduled after lunch on a certain day, adding that staff members should get ready for a fun surprise that afternoon. Excitement will build as they wonder, “What’s up?”

Prepare envelopes addressed to each team member by name, stuffed with a $100 bill. When the afternoon arrives, have transportation ready—a chartered van or a limousine makes the occasion even more memorable. Give instructions as you distribute the envelopes:  “Staff, your shopping marathon begins at precisely ___PM at the mall (or favorite area shopping center). Everyone has one hour to spend their “I appreciate you” gift. At ___PM, one hour after beginning, you are to meet at the same place from which you started. You’ll be brought back to the office after a quick stop for one more treat. One requirement—all money is to be spent on you only. Money not spent will go into the office cookie jar to be used on a future team event.”

On the way back to the office, stop for a special treat, whatever your team would enjoy as a perfect end to a perfect surprise. This generous, over-the-top adventure will foster enthusiasm and motivate your staff members for months.

Paycheck Plus: The dentist in one of the best-managed practices with which I have worked meets payroll every two weeks. With each paycheck, he includes a small inexpensive token, just a little extra that demonstrates to staff, “I thought about you and want to tell you via a small gift in addition to your paycheck that I value and appreciate you.”  He’s given things such as a single flower, a pack of sugar-free gum, a glass forever-use emery board, a candy bar, a Starbucks gift card, a small inspirational book, a huge deli pickle in a plastic baggie, a movie ticket, on and on.

Obviously he has repeated many of the gifts over the years, but that’s beside the point. The point is the message his team members receive, no matter what the gift or its cost. Month after month, year after year with the small token in addition to each paycheck, he emphasizes that he spent time and effort doing something nice for the group. Furthermore, he cares about each person on the team and is sincerely grateful for their loyalty to the practice and their outstanding care and concern for patients, for him, and for each other.

Incidentally, this dentist has a number of team members who have remained dedicated, skilled, caring employees for his entire practice life. Turnover in that office is rare. Whenever a staff member does resign, it is for a personal reason such as a move, a health issue, retirement, etc. That team is among the most loyal and enduring I’ve seen. Suggestion: take a lesson from this colleague. Try such programs (plural) in your office. The practice as well as the team will move light years ahead of the norm. A bonus---the ambience in your office will just feel good.