At some point, you and your team members will experience burnout. Without great systems in place, you may end up where you don’t want to be! To help you prevent burnout in your practice, Kirk Behrendt brings back Ariel Juday, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, to share 12 simple systems you can start implementing today. Planning is the key to preventing burnout! To learn how to get started, listen to Episode 544 of The Best Practices Show!
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Planning is the key to prevent burnout for you and your team.
Create checklists and task lists to streamline the workday.
A spreadsheet of important contacts will save you time.
Review the schedule in advance with team members.
Reassess your goals and values periodically.
Plan your ideal schedule and then protect it.
Use technology to save your energy.
Remove negative communication.
Ask for help when you need it.
Have a plan B in place.
Leave work at work.
“[Burnout starts] when they don’t prepare for the growth . . . We see a lot of practices, and they’ve made it so far just based off of their own knowledge, or their people that they have are great team members. But what they don’t realize is when you multiply team members or you multiply patients, things get stressful because we’re not doing things necessarily the same way every time, or we don’t have a system, or we don’t have a checklist. So, then things start getting missed, and then we get overwhelmed.” (5:03—5:38) -Ariel
“A system means that we all know what we’re responsible for, when we’re responsible for it, and how to get it done. So, if we have every team member on board and they know what they’re supposed to do, they have their daily tasks, they have their daily systems, then we know exactly where we’re at in the system and we don’t go home thinking, ‘Did that get done? Did I miss that lab case? Did I forget to submit that insurance claim?’ Because as soon as we start taking work home with us is when we know we’ve already hit that burnout threshold.” (6:57—7:30) -Ariel
“Create basic checklists and task lists for every position. So, what is your admin team members’ daily checklist? What is your office manager’s daily checklist? What is your assistant and hygiene? Have one for everyone. That way, we know, one, are all of the tasks getting done? And two, are multiple team members doing the same task? Because we can easily divide it in a better, more efficient manner if we know who’s doing what and if it’s going toward that department’s strengths.” (7:46—8:17) -Ariel
“Something everyone can do is make a daily task list for every position so that you know what to do. And then, order it in the importance of the day. So, ‘First thing, I need to do this. By lunch, this needs to be done.’ And then, by the end of the day, I know everything is done so when I go home, I can enjoy time with my friends and family.” (8:22—8:44) -Ariel
“We always joke that team members are waterboarded. They’re not really onboarded. They get thrown into these positions. Now, as a dentist, you think everybody gets it. You think you’ve told them all these times. You have to remember, you’re working with human beings, wonderful people, and they’re trying to manage these situations. And they don’t think like entrepreneurs. They’re just trying to do the best they can every single day, so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.” (8:47—9:13) -Kirk
“You’d be surprised how many people are like, ‘Oh, we just do it.’ I was like, ‘But what do you do? What do they do?’ Or you ask, ‘Well, what does your office manager do on a daily basis?’ You’d be surprised how many dentists can’t answer that. ‘Well, she answers the phone. She submits insurance.’ I’m like, ‘For eight hours?’ So, it helps you to know. But I always like it too, to be able to help my team members. So, if someone is really busy, if you’re really busy, I don’t even have to interrupt you. I can say, ‘Okay. Let me see your checklist.’ I can see where you’re at and say, ‘Well, I can help with that,’ and then go do it. So, it also helps with that teamwork of, I know what everyone is doing. I can go and help them when they need it.” (9:43—10:25) -Ariel
“You’d be surprised how many people don’t have a checklist because they think it’s common sense. They think we just know it. And even if it is common sense, what about when it gets hectic? You’ve answered phone call, after phone call, after phone call, and now you have a patient walking in. Now, you have an emergency. We’re human. We forget things. And sometimes, we need that checklist to bring us back into, ‘Okay. Where was I at? What do I need to do?’” (10:26—10:50) -Ariel
“Once you have that checklist in your system, I always tell everyone to have a plan B. So, these are the 100 things we need to do in a day as plan A. But what do you do when you’re short-staffed? Have that plan ahead of time so that the team knows, ‘Okay, we’re down a hygienist. These are the 90 tasks that absolutely need to be done. The other 10 are great. But if we don’t get to it, we don’t get to it. It’s okay.’ If you’re down an admin team member, what are the essential tasks that need to be done, and what are the ones that we say, ‘Hey, if these don’t get done for the week that she’s on vacation or out sick, we will still survive’? That way, you don’t leave it up to the team members to pick and choose what are the important tasks. Because remember, in the moment, we’re not thinking straight. We’re just going with the flow. And sometimes, we fill our days with the easier tasks or the tasks that seem important, but maybe we then forgot a whole week of insurance claims to submit.” (12:13—13:11) -Ariel
“Anything that you’re doing manually, use your technology. I had one doctor, we were talking the other day, and he’s like, ‘I spend a half-hour at the end of the day typing my notes.’ I was like, ‘Wait. There are templates. You just push buttons and answer questions. It’s very quick.’ He never thought of, ‘Let the technology work for me.’ If we’re spending a lot of time on inserting patient forms that patients fill out, use the technology. Let them fill out the form digitally, and then we can import it directly into the software. So, anything that can save energy — and I know it’s not hard to enter a medical history, but I don’t want to use my mind power on that.” (13:35—14:22) -Ariel
“Have a spreadsheet, internally and externally, of who to go to for what. Because I feel like dentists, all day, are putting out fires and answering questions and, ‘Oh, we need to change a lightbulb. We need to call the plumber.’ But as a team member, I can call the plumber if I know who the plumber is and what his phone number is. But a lot of times, I have to interrupt you to go and ask who that is. So, if we can create a Google spreadsheet or anything in the office that any team member says, ‘Hey, I need to call,’ they can call right then, and it’s not bogging someone else down to have to go find that information.” (16:03—16:38) -Ariel
“Create an ideal schedule and stick to it. And have your team protect it . . . If you don’t like to do crowns in the afternoon, you don’t have to. You can set up your schedule. I have one client, he said, ‘I don’t want to do any exams on Wednesdays.’ I’m like, ‘Well, then why are you doing exams on Wednesdays?’ We have to design the schedule. And you can’t make it overnight. You can’t all of a sudden say, ‘I don’t ever want to do this.’ It takes some planning. But protect it. Find out what makes you happy, what procedures you enjoy, when do you have the most energy, and protect that.” (16:55—17:34) -Ariel
“Pay attention to time zones in which you’re best at what you do. When you’re younger, you can do a lot. But when you get older, you’re like, ‘I can’t think in the afternoon.’ And so, you’ve got to protect your time and get everybody invested in that. Because if I’m working for a dentist and I haven’t had this communication about how to organize the schedule, I’m going to put whatever I can find in there. And you’re just going to do it because the schedule is the thing we follow service to. Whatever is in the schedule, we’re just going to do. We’ve been trained to do that.” (18:02—18:41) -Kirk
“We’ve been trained to see those seven emergencies that just got put in. And it’s like, hold on. What if we only limit it to three emergencies today, and we did three tomorrow? But it’s going back to, ‘I need to take care of everyone.’ Well, I want to take care of them. But we all know that true emergencies are different than what patients tell us an emergency is. So, have those questions. Are they in pain? Can they eat and sleep? Because some of it, they’re fine if they come in tomorrow instead of squeezing them in today. It’s just we put that mindset of, ‘We’ve got to get everyone in. We’ve got to get them in today.’ And it’s like, no. Let’s protect our schedule. Because we know when we have a nice flowing day, we all have more energy.” (18:43—19:32) -Ariel
“Do not take any work home with you. I know people have after-hour cellphones. And I only think those are necessary if you’re really wanting to interrupt your evening and you’re wanting to go in the office. Especially if you’re going back in the next morning at 7:00 a.m., is there really anything that’s going to happen that the patient can’t live? We have to remember, there are emergency rooms and urgent cares for a reason, that they can go and get out of pain, and then see us first thing in the morning. Don’t take it home with you.” (19:39—20:14) -Ariel
“Have a plan. Plan out, when are you going to be taking vacations? When are the holidays? A lot of offices are closed on Fridays, or they work every other Friday. If you can plan which Fridays you’re off that go right into the long weekends that have Monday holidays, that’s going to give you and your team more time to recuperate. And I always say when you have that plan, I know we always try and squeeze a little bit more in towards the end of the year. But if we know how many days off, or we know what time we’re working extra, we don’t get that resentment because we know, ‘I’m working five days this week, but I only have three days next week.’ Mentally, that helps you and your team members prepare.” (21:06—21:54) -Ariel
“Ask for help when someone is too busy. If you normally write up the lab slips but you’re really busy, or you have a long procedure to go into, ask your assistant to help. Ask your front desk to help fax in or call in that prescription. Sometimes, we think, ‘Oh, this is my task, so I have to do it 100% of the time.’ But our team members are happy to help. They just need to know what to help with. So, don’t be ashamed to have to ask, or delegate tasks and say, ‘Hey, for today, can you make sure this gets done?’ And I guarantee you, they’ll be happy to do it.” (23:33—24:14) -Ariel
“Go back to your values. Really look at, what do I enjoy? What are my values? What is success? Because I think we start getting in, and we start out practicing, and ten years later, we don’t necessarily have the same idea of what kind of practice we want to have. So, you have to reassess and make sure, am I following the vision I have? How do I want to feel? What do I need to accomplish that feeling? What’s my vision? That’s going to help you assess your goals and make sure that you’re on the right track. Because sometimes, we don’t even know what our goals are or what our vision is, and we let the day-to-day take it over.” (24:55—25:40) -Ariel
“Sometimes, producing more is not going to give you what you want.” (27:11—27:15) -Kirk
“Be prepared. A lot of team members are not reviewing the schedule, and they’re being very reactive instead of proactive. Because in the day, the schedule is, and we’re just taking care of the schedule. But if I review it ahead of time, I know where there are times that it’s going to get a little hairy.” (28:05—28:26) -Ariel
“If you’re not having a huddle, definitely start having a huddle. This helps you plan out that day and review the schedule. And not too far in advance, because we know the schedule changes. But at least one to two days in advance so that you can make that plan.” (29:07—29:22) -Ariel
“Remove the negative communication, either with yourself or with your team. I always put it back to stay in the bubble. So, if we only talk about things that we can control, that’s in the bubble. I can control my attitude. I can control the schedule, for the most part. But I can’t control the weather. I can’t control politics. I can’t control the traffic outside. I don’t even allow that communication to come in from team members, from patients. I never ask, ‘How was your drive here?’ because I’m opening up a can of worms if it was terrible. So, only talk about the positive things, and don’t let our team members go in that negative circle.” (31:25—32:07) -Ariel
“You work hard every day. None of you ever signed up for how physically and emotionally demanding dentistry was going to be. And it’s an amazing profession. But without countermeasures, without systems, this great profession can take you in a direction you don’t want to go.” (33:33—33:47) -Kirk
“Do it early. If you’re saying, ‘I don’t need it,’ everyone hits burnout at some point. So, get prepared and think about it now before you get to the moment, because we don’t make good decisions when we’re tired.” (33:58—34:11) -Ariel
2:12 Ariel’s background.
3:13 Why preventing burnout is important.
4:38 How burnout begins.
6:19 Systems can help prevent burnout.
7:32 Create basic checklists and task lists for every position.
12:06 Have a plan B.
13:29 Use available technology.
15:45 Have a spreadsheet for important contacts.
16:50 Create an ideal schedule and stick to it.
19:34 Don’t take work home with you.
21:04 Have a plan for vacations and days off.
23:28 Ask for help when you’re too busy.
24:49 Reassess your vision, goals, and values.
28:00 Be prepared by reviewing your schedule in advance.
31:16 Remove the negative communication.
33:23 Last thoughts on burnout.
Ariel Juday Bio:
Ariel has a master’s in healthcare administration and several years of dental experience in all aspects of the administrative roles within the dental office. Her passion is to work with dental teams to empower team members to realize their full potential in order to better serve patients, improve office systems to ensure a well-functioning team/office, and to help everyone have fun in the process!
Outside of work, she can be found by the beach or the pool reading a good book, enjoying sporting events with her husband, Alex, or exploring the outdoors with her Bluetick Coonhound, Maddux.