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Episode #417: Alignment Starts at the Top, with Courtney Dalton

the best practices show podcast May 08, 2022

Of your entire life, 30% of your time will be spent at work. So, why not make it a great place to be? And to help you make that happen,Kirk Behrendt brings back Courtney Dalton, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, to talk about how to proactively create alignment with your team for a healthy, happy, high-functioning practice. If you want to set your team up for success, listen to Episode 417 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

Alignment starts with leadership.

Set your team up for success.

Communicate expectations clearly.

Lean and fall into your core values.

Create time for team check-ins.


“If you're a one-doctor practice or a multi-doctor practice, [core values and alignment] trickles down into everything that the practice does and who they are. So, if you have someone, either on the doctor team or on that leadership team, that's not in line with core values, that's not aligned with a purpose or a vision, the team themselves won't have that energy and buy-in that you're really hoping that they have. So, one person who doesn't really sit well can really be a detriment to the success of the team.” (4:06—4:40)

“Your leadership is so important. If they are functioning in an unhealthy way, the team sees that and they're going to follow, every time. So, having alignment overall is just — you have to have it.” (5:40—5:54)

“There was one team member, the leadership, who the doctors really felt was quite valuable, and she wore the office manager hat, ‘We’ll drown if we get rid of her. We need to know everything before we can find someone else.’ What they didn't realize until a lot of discussion and a lot of peeling back the layers, was that the problem was this person. She wasn't a good core values fit. That air, when you walk into the room — you know when you can feel that there's something off? It was caused because of a lack of alignment, because of this person, wrong person for the seat that she was in. Doesn't mean she was a bad person. She just wasn't the best fit for that role within the practice, and it caused a lot of issues in the team. And in hindsight, we had a meeting not long ago, and the dynamic of the meeting with her gone was amazing.” (7:21—8:29)

“Patrick Lencioni said nothing trumps organizational health — nothing in business — except the lack of it.” (9:43—9:50)

“[Core values are] so important. And practices don't always realize that. They think because they're great on paper, they're going to translate and be great within the practice. But I think it’s important to ask deeper questions surrounding your core values. Lean into them. Fall into them. Use them to help guide your decisions. And when you do that, the right choice is much more clear for the benefit of the practice.” (11:35—12:08)

“Another thing we say all the time, set their lane up for success. How do you do that? Clear expectations. What can we specifically, measurably, ‘Here’s what I expect from you. And in return, here’s what you can expect from me,’ so that that conflict moment, we can shrink it down. We’re never going to make it go away completely; we’re imperfect people. But if we can even out those expectation-and-reality moments, wouldn't that be great? And to avoid or at least minimize the conflict that comes up later down the road.” (16:36—17:12)

“All unresolved conflict becomes a crisis — all. We just don't know when.” (18:21—18:27)

“Most practices, I don't think, are really doing a lot of check-ins with their teams. So, we think of a check-in as the dreaded review where we have to talk about things with a dollar attached to it for that team member. When you do a quarterly check-in or set your frequency of those check-ins, that teammate is coming prepared with the information. They’re bringing the talking points, ‘Here’s what I feel really successful at. Here’s where I need some more support. Here are some highlights from my week. Here are areas of opportunity for me. Let's talk.’ So, it gives the doctor that opportunity to stop talking for a minute and let that teammate say what they need to say and get the pat on the back that they need, the acknowledgment that they need, or the support that they need to be successful in their role.” (19:31—20:27)

“[For dentists who say they don't have time for check-ins], do you want to make time for this, or do you want to make time for the problems? It’s very simple. You can either be the problem or be the solution. You can't be both.” (22:37—22:48)

“We talked about when there's one person that's not a great fit. What about the opposite of that? What about when there's a person on the team that is the best fit that makes everybody a little bit better? They deserve that same shining light too. And you leave this space for, okay, this person wasn't so great. Maybe, if you're fortunate enough to bring someone new in who is that light, or maybe someone in that practice that you have already is the light, they were just being outshined by somebody else, and not in the best way.” (23:15—23:53)

“You're going to spend 30% of your entire life that you're alive at a place called work. So, my hope is that investment is a good one. And it’s a good one when you have two things: you have core values in which we’re all believing, and we’re all aligned.” (26:41—27:00)


0:00 Introduction.

2:27 Courtney’s background.

3:01 Why alignment is important for your practice.

4:41 You don't have to agree, but you have to align.

5:57 How the right person can change dynamics.

9:54 The importance of core values for alignment.

13:01 All roads lead to core values.

16:30 How to set your team up for success.

17:12 Unresolved conflict will become a crisis.

19:05 How to improve alignment.

22:31 Be the problem or be the solution.

23:09 Last thoughts on alignment.

Reach Out to Courtney:

Courtney’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/courtney.dalton.739

Courtney’s social media: @courtney.hannig


Books by Patrick Lencioni: https://www.tablegroup.com/books/

Courtney Dalton Bio:

Courtney Dalton is a Lead Practice Coach who focuses on establishing a solid foundation in order for a practice to thrive. With over 15 years of experience in the dental industry, she is as passionate about patient care as she is about those who are providing it. 

Courtney has an A.S. in Dental Hygiene from Manor College and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from West Virginia University. Outside of coaching, she enjoys teaching group exercise classes and spending time with her husband, Dan, and children, Lola and Levi. 


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