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690: The Beacon of Practice Success – Heather Crockett

You'll hear it again and again on this podcast: core values are critical for practice success! It makes hard decisions easier, the workplace healthier, and everyone happier. If you're struggling with this foundational piece, keep listening! Kirk Behrendt brings back Heather Crockett, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with a step-by-step for how to create a craveable work culture. It all starts with core values! To hear it for the thousandth time, listen to Episode 690 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Download ACT’s How to Bring Your Core Values Alive checklist:

Download ACT’s Identifying Your Practice’s Core Values tool guide:

Read Hidden Potential by Adam Grant:

Read Traction by Gino Wickman:

Main Takeaways:

Make your core values a big deal.

Don't just set-and-forget your core values.

Find creative ways to keep your core values alive.

Designate a core values champion to keep everyone engaged.

Take your time when deciding on your core values. Let them bake.

Developing your core values is the most important thing you'll ever do.


“The beacon to practice success is your core values.” (2:24—2:26) -Heather

“[Defining your core values] is the most important thing you will ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do in business. Here's why. When you really find out what they are, you lean into them. You give them a name. You write sentences to support them. You reward, hire, fire around them. Everything gets better. Your results get better. And here's the bottom line. You enjoy going to work. Work is hard — it is. It just is. I don't care what you do. But if you go into a workplace that's healthy, nothing trumps that. Nothing beats that except the absence of health in an organization. When you can look around and go, ‘Man, these are my people,’ it's awesome.” (2:38—3:25) -Kirk

“You spend 30% of your lives — your breaths that you take on this planet while you're alive — at a place called work. Why wouldn't you want that to be a fun place to go?” (3:43—3:54) -Kirk

“Everyone struggles with alignment with their values. What does that mean? It means that you may have people in your organization that are not aligned with your core values. That's a huge struggle and frustration that so many doctors have. When I have conversations with my clients and they say this person is frustrating them, or they're having a struggle or an issue with a team member, usually it's because there's a misalignment in the values and we have to come back to having that core value conversation. There's really nothing more important because they are a guiding force in your organization.” (4:16—4:46) -Heather

“When a team member is not fitting right and something doesn't seem like it molds and it gels, like there's something off about that person, usually, it's a misalignment in values.” (7:52—8:03) -Heather

“You should make [core values] a big deal. As soon as you get them created and you present them to your team, they're a big deal. So, you should spend a lot of time talking about them, defining them, and really discussing them with the team and making sure that your team is aware of what they are and what they mean.” (10:35—10:52) -Heather

“[Your core values] really need to be embedded. We've said it over and over — they're the most important thing. Your team members need to have them memorized and be able to spit them out — and so should you. If they're not on your website and they're not screaming on your social media, then there's a lot of work that needs to be done.” (11:20—11:37) -Heather

“If you're a dentist, or if you own a business, or you do hiring, you only hire people for two reasons for the rest of your career. You hire them because they fit your core values. The second reason you hire anybody is they get results. When you can lean into that and be super clear, ‘Look, I'm looking for people that fit our value system, and I'm looking for somebody that gets results in this seat,’ and you can create something that clearly articulates, ‘How are you doing?’ giving a clear line of sight — you can go back and listen to some previous podcasts about how that all works — you're going to see things get better so fast. You'll do what Pete Dawson said to me years ago that I never really understood. He said, ‘When you get the right people, you could produce twice as much, in half the time, with a quarter of the stress.’ That is absolutely true.” (11:41—12:25) -Kirk

“All of you that are listening are thinking about, ‘How is this year going to be better than last year?’ I would encourage you to lean heavier into your values. You don't just set them and forget them. It's like a guardian. You’ve got to nurture them. You’ve got to bring them to life.” (13:18—13:30) -Kirk

“I highly encourage everybody to read [Hidden Potential by Adam Grant] or listen to it. This morning, I got hit in the face by one of the things that he said. I love it. He said, ‘Character is a skill. It's not a trait, because character is something you work on every day. Those are decisions. They're day-to-day decisions that you have to make, and they become more values-based than instinctual.’” (13:38—14:02) -Kirk

“It does take work. We're going to put these [values] in place, and we're not going to set it and forget it. You absolutely can't. If it's a skill, it's something that has to be nurtured. We have to give it some time and attention and effort in order for it to grow and get better.” (15:29—15:44) -Heather

“If you own your own business, your distinct competitive advantage is your people. You have to build a team. Your number-one job is to build an amazing group of people that fit your values, and they get results, and you put them in the right seats. Then, you could sit back and go, ‘This is crazy cool.’ It becomes your favorite thing.” (15:49—16:09) -Kirk

“There are downsides to values too, because once you start putting it out there, people are going to call you out on it. Nobody makes more mistakes than the leader. And so, you’ve got to be ready for that. The other downside of values — and it's a really good downside — is that once you get to a point — we have 19 people now. If somebody doesn't fit from a value standpoint, man, it's like the other 18 are ready to eat them alive. They'll come to you and go, ‘What is going on here?’ because they want to hold the standard up to it.” (16:28—17:02) -Kirk

“[Core values is a] beacon to practice success because you're faced with challenges and decisions that have to be made on the daily. If you rely on your core values to make those decisions, that's that beacon. That's that lighthouse in the fog on the water. When you're not sure exactly how to proceed, that's where you go, is your core values. They will not lead you astray if you lean on those core values.” (18:21—18:45) -Heather

“There are going to be some questions and some decisions that come up that you don't necessarily need to go through your core values. But I would say 95% of them, you can run through your core values and you will find that those decisions are easier to make, and the choices that you make are much more beneficial to you, your team, the practice, your patients moving forward, and for the long-term health of your organization because you filtered them through your core values.” (19:03—19:29) -Heather

“[Prospective] team members are doing more homework on you than you're ever doing on them. They know who you are, so you can't run from your reputation.” (19:37—19:47) -Kirk

“I do have these conversations with some dentists that haven't done this work. One dentist was like, ‘Nobody wants to work anymore! Nobody wants to work.’ I'm like, ‘Nobody wants to work for you.’ That's the key.” (20:00—20:12) -Kirk

“While I was home for Christmas, my [brother-in-law’s wife] . . . had this bag. It was so cool. It said, ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ I thought about that. I'm like, ‘Oh, that's pretty cool. How cool is that?’ I also translate that not only to dogs but to humans. Like, humans, you’ve got to continuously be the person that you want to be, and you can also be vulnerable. You don't have to be perfect, but I think if they can see you screw up consistently but still step into your values, they'll go, ‘He's not the smartest guy, but I think I could handle a few of these mistakes.’ I think it's so important as you build a sustainable, healthy business, long term.” (20:15—21:03) -Kirk

“You’ve got to give people a bigger reason to stay with you other than work, other than money, other than the job. Your mission and your vision statement — they're very important. But I can assure you not one team member is sharing any of that with anyone. They will, however, scream at a party at their cul-de-sac about the value-based decision that their leaders make.” (21:03—21:31) -Kirk

“Team members never leave a practice. They always leave a person. So, no dental team members ever left the practice. They left a person. They left a leadership team. They left a person who was in charge of that culture.” (21:34—21:49) -Kirk

“[Designating a core values champion is] crazy important. We've talked many times about having a Function Accountability Chart. The function here is our core values and keeping them alive and well in the practice or the organization. The accountability piece is that person that has their name tied to that, they're the ones responsible, and they have the ownership to make sure that they are showing up. Well, how does that work? It's unique and different to every practice and organization.” (22:28—22:53) -Heather

“If you want to have that craveable culture, if you want your team members to love working for you and look at it as a career and not a job, this is where you start. This is really where that practice success comes into play.” (25:58—26:10) -Heather

“Number one, figure out what [your core values] are. Number two, let them bake. Number three, realize that you’ve got to work on them every day and develop that character skill. Lastly, you’ve got to have some type of a core values champion, somebody who holds you and the leadership team, their feet to the fire and making sure that these are alive, they're real, and they're challenged. Like, you even question the font or the wording around it, and through this we coalesce around what it really means, and it gives it more life, more value, more everything.” (27:14—27:49) -Kirk


0:00 Introduction.

1:56 Why core values are so important.

10:31 Make your core values a big deal.

13:10 Don't set it and forget it.

16:28 The downsides to core values.

17:45 Core values make decision-making easier.

20:14 Be the person your dog thinks you are.

21:58 Designate a core values champion.

26:11 Find creative ways to keep core values alive.

27:52 Last thoughts.

Heather Crockett Bio:

Heather Crockett is a Lead Practice Coach who finds joy in not only improving practices but improving the lives of those she coaches as well. With over 20 years of combined experience in assisting, office management, and clinical dental hygiene, her awareness supports many aspects of the practice setting.

Heather received her dental hygiene degree from the Utah College of Dental Hygiene in 2008. Networking in the dental community comes easy to her, and she loves to connect with like-minded colleagues on social media. Heather enjoys both attending and presenting continuing education to expand her knowledge and learn from her friends and colleagues.

She enjoys hanging out with her husband, three sons, and their dog, Moki, scrolling through social media, watching football, and traveling. 

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.