My latest article – the second in our “kick-off to 2016” series about seven principles to embrace this year – was about “knowing what matters.” Before we move on to the next principle, I want to spend a little more time on that, because it just so happens I have some recent examples that illustrate exactly what I mean.

For instance, last week we effectively shut down operations for all our employees for the better part of the day. Why? Because it was time for a special annual meeting. Everyone gathered in the auditorium and our CEO, Kaleim, gave his version of our “State of the Union” address – talking about where we were as a company and where we were going in the year ahead. Then he brought out Dr. Kevin Kwiecien to talk to everyone about what we really mean at Spear when we talk about comprehensive care, and why it is so important – to patients, to dentists and to us. (He also showed a great video on the science behind the power of the smile, something I will share with you in an upcoming article.)

What really matters in dental practices
Spear employees also gather together for a meeting each week to recognize top performers, cover company updates and train on new products.

We made a considerable sacrifice of man hours and productive time to make this come together, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind here that it was worth it. We have many very devoted people working here, but they spend a lot of time, by necessity, working on their own things, on their own islands. It’s important to bring everyone  together at key times, get them to lift their heads from what they are doing, and get them to see how their work fits into a bigger context. It’s important to get them energized and excited about the meaningfulness of their contribution and aligned behind the company’s philosophical agenda. I’ll say it again: Leadership is about knowing what matters. This matters.

For one of the people attending that important get-together, it was her first official day on the job. Her name is Jane and she is my new administrative assistant. This is a big deal for me (and I hope for Jane, too) because I have only had two other assistants previously, and I depend on that person greatly.

It probably won’t surprise most of you to know that my days are usually jam-packed with things I want to get done, and I expect my assistant to not only support me but to anticipate things and “worry for me” about things I don’t have time to worry about. But for Jane’s first couple of days, I deliberately slowed things down. I spent hours with her, going over the systems we use and how I like to work. It was a substantial investment of my time, but it is important to me to have someone in this position who understands me and who truly appreciates what we do here at Spear. That matters a lot to me.

What really matters in a dental practiceKeep this in mind the next time you think you don’t have the time or resources to accommodate a full state of the union team meeting. Think about it when you are hiring a new person for your team and you end up giving them the quick tour and throwing them right into the job – bringing along their own mindsets from previous employers but without a real sense of your practice philosophy. These are the moments where it is worth it to slow down and spend the time that is so necessary to creating the right teamwork and the right energy. (Many of our Spear Online members use the resources there to create a learning pathway for each team member.) 

Look beyond the cost in terms of time spent today and recognize that you are investing in tomorrow and the years to come. From a leader’s perspective, this is what matters.