Embrace Progress: Team Training by Dr. Daniel Grob

Dentaltown Magazine

by Dr. Daniel Grob, DDS, MS, editorial director, Orthotown Magazine


While I was watching my favorite football team, and wearing green and yellow and a rubber cheese hat, I was reminded about one of life’s lessons regarding sports and business. You see, sometimes having one person who’s “the best” in one skill won’t enhance the team or get you the results that you desire in the end. Yes, I’m referring to the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the team’s recent performance history.

For years, we’ve heard about Rodgers’ talent, his ability of throwing on the run and, of course, his record passer rating. We’ve watched him draw the opposing team off guard and into a penalty situation with his play-calling at the line of scrimmage. I truly appreciate the addition of Rodgers to the team. Since being drafted in 2005, he has been rewarded with incredible loyalty by the fans, management and, I’m presuming, his teammates.

However, after years in the league, what do the Packers have to show for retaining, rewarding and re-signing this “superstar” to their roster? Just one Super Bowl trophy earned early in his career, long before he recently signed his multimillion-dollar contract, one of the highest in the NFL. Meanwhile, the team has replaced coaches, receivers and other players.

On the other hand, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. We all know the history, his story and his unbelievable abilities. Many would say that he is the true superstar, and arguably the best quarterback ever to have stepped on the turf—or tundra, as they call it in Green Bay! But do we all know and appreciate his unselfish request to share parts of his potential reward with his team and others?

Years ago, it was disclosed that he offered to share his potential wealth with his teammates and team by forgoing the assumed rewards for being “the best.” Because football is a team sport, it requires more than just one superstar to get the ultimate reward—namely, a ring. The true superstar needs to be surrounded with other players who can follow directions, execute and share the desire to win.

So how many rings has Brady earned with his team during his tenure? He has six rings after going to the Super Bowl nine times. The Patriots also have replaced numerous players, although they have kept their winning coach, Bill Belichick.

Bringing it back to ortho

A recent event in my own office has me comparing the above observations to the everyday business environment: An experienced, competent and trusted employee recently made the decision to pursue a career outside of orthodontics.

While she worked at my practice, this employee did it all:

• She was already proficient at customer service, because she’d previously worked as a phone representative for a large banking company.

• Within months of being hired, she understood the mechanics of orthodontics—with her level of knowledge, she probably would’ve been able to treat any member of her family.

• She managed a lot of technology needs, including connecting printers and saving and managing files and folders on the computer.

• She even became skilled at aligner and 3D software—a huge advantage for a modern dental assistant.

The other employees looked up to and depended on her. I greatly admired her prowess, too, and she regularly earned financial and other perks. However, she didn’t want to manage others and, when presented with lists, procedures and scripts, resisted being “micromanaged.”

Now that she’s gone, I take the blame and responsibility for the situation I then found myself in: Suddenly the remaining team members struggled to get all of the tasks done. They didn’t know whom to call to order the essentials. When a glitch appeared on the computer screen, they froze. We’d all become so used to this one employee filling in the blanks and accomplishing so much that we let our guard down and coasted through the day.

This situation was my fault because rather than building a coherent team with equal and diversified players, I had a group of employees who got the job done but weren’t equal partners in the result. I realized it was time to step back and get back to basics.

Lists, procedures and scripts

Yes, that’s what it takes to have a coherent team that works together with shared responsibilities and outstanding results: lists, procedures and scripts. It’s also important to utilize sincere motivational techniques, because praising and encouraging all employees goes a long way.

Once again, a story from one of my travels reminds me of the benefits of having the right team in place. My wife and I recently decided to take a short flight to California to celebrate our anniversary. And, as with a few other of my recent travels, we decided to stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

As expected, the service was amazing. You could tell that the entire team, from greeters to maintenance staff, had been trained to offer an unparalleled luxury experience. I spoke with one of the servers in the club lounge, who told me that the property was recently purchased by The Ritz-Carlton and since that time, her employment has become more enjoyable and relaxing. Her desire to work has improved and her attitude is simply much better. The culture, she said, encouraged this.

The moral of the story is that good management, leaders and employers are rewarded with great and loyal employees.

Don’t take anyone or anything for granted, and keep working on your skills to improve the lives of everyone you come into contact with. You’ll reap the rewards.

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