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Episode #636: Data-Driven Clarity: 3 Steps To Turn Your Frustration Into Informed Action, With Heather Crockett


Unresolved frustration turns into conflict, and unresolved conflict becomes a crisis. There’s only one sure way to avoid catastrophe, and Kirk Behrendt brings back Heather Crockett, one of ACT’s amazing coaches, with three steps to turn your frustration into action and keep your practice healthy. Don’t let frustration run your practice! To learn how data can prevent and solve needless frustration, listen to Episode 636 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Listen to Episode 557 of The Best Practices Show

Read Traction by Gino Wickman

Read Atomic Habits by James Clear

Main Takeaways:

Make decisions based on data, not emotions.

Start collecting and organizing your data.

Figure out how to report on the data.

Don’t try to do this on your own.

Anything can become data.


“If you don’t have any frustration in your practice, then you are not a normal practice because we all deal with issues and frustrations from time to time.” (2:59—3:07) -Heather

“Oftentimes, our clients are making decisions that are emotionally based and not data driven. So, that is my goal with this podcast, is to help our clients and our community, anybody that’s listening to this podcast, to help you turn that frustration into that informed action because there’s so much frustration. Oftentimes, we get to the brink of, ‘Okay, I’m just going to do this because it will help to take this off of my shoulders.’ It doesn’t unless it’s an informed decision.” (3:08—3:38) -Heather

“Frustration will continue to grow and fester like bacteria, and it will ultimately become something worse than that.” (3:46—3:53) -Kirk

“Unresolved conflict always becomes a crisis. We just don’t know when. So, if you’re a dentist and you have frustration, and it’s happening day after day, something will break. You’ll either explode on a team member, you’ll get burned out, you’ll give up, or you’ll go, ‘All right, forget it.’ We don’t want you to do that, so we’re going to take this frustration and we’re going to take it into informed action with a couple of steps.” (4:01—4:26) -Kirk

“Where we start, we have to make it data with a number. Oftentimes, we overthink things. Oftentimes, we think things are worse than they are, or we may believe that the situation is better than it really is. So, we have to give what it is that we’re feeling a number.” (4:32—4:49) -Heather

“I get really excited about road trips. One of the reasons I get really excited about road trips is because I stop at the local gas station that knows me by name. I fill my cup, my 44-ounce mug, with my “fun drink”, is what my kids call it. It’s a mixture of Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. Yes — I’m a dental hygienist. Yes, I am aware of the acidic nature of that drink, but I still do it. I have my water right next to it, so I’ve got both beverages to take on this road trip. Well, it’s a long road trip, and there is a space of time on this road trip that there are not a whole lot of places, or good places, to stop to use the restroom. So, my husband and I are newlyweds. I’ve got my big drink. We’re going along, and I’m like, ‘Honey, I think I need to use the restroom.’ ‘Okay. Well, how badly do you need to use it?’ ‘I need to use the restroom probably like 20 miles back.’ ‘Okay. Well, let’s try to find a restroom.’ Well, it’s for miles, and I’m unbuttoning my pants at this point. It’s getting really uncomfortable. I can’t breathe the right way because I don’t want to have an accident in the car. So, after that trip, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a way of communicating so that you knew and understood just how badly I had to use the restroom?’ And so, we came up with a scale of 1 to 10. If I need to really use the restroom and I need a restroom like 10 minutes ago, I’m at a 10. I’m dying, like hospital need. I need to go to the restroom now. I’m at a 10. If I just used the restroom, I’m at a 1. So, we have taken something that usually doesn’t have any data and we have given it data so that it deepens our understanding.” (5:13—6:56) -Heather

“Not only yourself, but your team members too can feel some stress and anxiety when we’re uncertain of where we are. We can’t read each other’s minds. That data absolutely gives us that clarity.” (8:48—8:58) -Heather

“I shared that story of having to go to the restroom with one of my teams a couple of months ago. And I asked for a few minutes — that I shared with the team — that we were going to take a break at 9:30 a.m. At 9:32 a.m., I have a team member raise her hand and say, ‘Heather, I’m at a 10! I’m seriously at a 10. Can we take a break right now?’ I said, ‘Oh my gosh, absolutely. We’ll start right back here in five minutes.’ So, you can see how it does. It’s like, ‘I need to use the restroom,’ versus, ‘I’m at a 10.’ I totally get that. It takes it and it makes it so much more clear. That stress and anxiety is gone because now I have a way of telling the other people around me exactly what’s going on. So, yes, it helps to reduce that frustration, helps to reduce your anxiety, and that of your team as well.” (8:59—9:42) -Heather

“[Step] number two is you’ve got to collect and organize your data. So, once you determine what it is that needs data, now you can start collecting that data. Don’t overcomplicate it either. Make it as simple as you possibly can. You can track it manually or you can track it digitally, but you need some form of a spreadsheet.” (10:23—10:42) Heather

“If you have people around you and you create a culture where people bring their data to you, they can’t argue with their own data. ‘Okay, let me show you what I’ve got. Here are the numbers around this, and here’s how I see it.’ Now, we’ve got a starting point.” (15:01—15:14) -Kirk

“Anything can become data. We just have to be really crafty in how we put that together. Then, from that data, we can take action. When we report on this data, the more frequently we report on it, the better. So, whether that’s during your morning huddle on a daily basis, whether that’s weekly during a team meeting — as we recommend you have weekly team meetings — the more frequently you do, the more aware you and the team are going to be of that gap. Once you have that data and you’re armed with that information, now, you can make a more informed decision and you can take action on it.” (16:58—17:35) -Heather

“You can’t do this as a reactionary measure whenever you’re frustrated, ‘We’re going to put data to it and we’re going to have a meeting.’ It’s got to be a regular interval. Here, at ACT Dental, we’re big fans of Atomic Habits, which is, you create a week that works, and then you stack habits on the week. So, every week is the same. When you look at having your meetings, or you’re gathering data, or you’re having a huddle, or you’re having a team meeting, this is the point where you introduce the data. If I was a personal trainer — my wife went through a program like this, and it was awesome. She loved it. She had to take a photo of her feet on the scale every day, before her day started, to her trainer. Now, that’s forced accountability. You can do whatever you want to do, but here’s what happens as a result. What gets measured gets improved, but what gets measured and reported on significantly improves. So, I would be the worst in a program like that. But if I put my feet on the scale and it’s not what I want, I’m not sending that photo every day hoping it goes up. I’m hoping it goes down, and now the two of us are working on a treatment plan.” (17:38—18:45) -Kirk

“If you do it all, the team is not going to be bought in to the whole process. They’re just not. If I have my name next to a number — and I do on our ACT Dental Scorecard. My name is next to several numbers. If I have to go in and report that it’s below goal, there’s a ping of guilt, almost. It’s like, ‘Ugh! I really hate that I’m bringing this back to my team.’ My team is counting on me to be sure that this number is what it needs to be. So I, then, am going to put some actionable steps in place to make that number better the following week because I don’t want to let my team down.” (19:19—19:52) -Heather

“At the end of the day, it’s basically the leader that holds everybody back most. And it’s not about money, but when you start to introduce numbers — and it’s not always about numbers. Numbers help us get out of frustration. So, when you start to move to an accountable structure where people like numbers, you’ll find your favorite people. They like numbers. They like feedback. They like it. If you’re running into a dead end where people don’t want feedback, you’ve got to change that. My first suggestion would be to find a coach because that’s a hard thing to navigate on your own. Secondly, if you don’t want to get a coach, you’ve got to create a system of accountability where we are all on the same page. We’re all committed to making things better, and it’s a healthy thing.” (20:49—21:32) -Kirk

“Any time my clients or a team member says, ‘I think,’ ‘I feel,’ ‘I assume,’ that’s when I say, ‘Okay, it sounds like we need more data,’ or data, period. We need data on this. You can’t think, feel, or assume. You can’t run a successful practice on ‘I think,’ ‘I feel,’ and, ‘I assume.’ You need that data, for sure.” (23:09—23:29) -Heather

“Don’t sit and stew in your frustration. Do something about it. Remember, anything can become data. Start tracking as soon as you possibly can, and delegate that tracking to your team as well so that you’re not doing all of it. Allow time to collect your data. We can’t just immediately say, ‘Okay, we collected data for today, and now we’re going to report on it tomorrow.’ You need some time, whether it’s a week’s worth of data, a month’s worth of data, a quarter’s worth of data, a year’s worth of data. But don’t wait too long, because you need to start making those informed decisions as soon as possible. Collecting the data will mean nothing and will only increase your frustration unless you start making those informed, actionable decisions based off of that data.” (24:18—25:01) -Heather


0:00 Introduction.

2:06 Why addressing frustration is important.

4:26 Numbers give you clarity.

10:17 Collect and organize your data.

12:39 Start taking action on the data.

14:50 You can’t argue with your own data.

16:17 Figure out how to report on the data.

18:45 Don’t do it all on your own.

20:12 Numbers help you get out of frustration.

24:12 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.