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March 1, 2017

C.L.E.A.R. Leadership! (Part 2)

C.L.E.A.R. Leadership! (Part 2)

There are 5 leadership fundamentals that help to clarify leadership. The acronym C.L.E.A.R. exemplifies these 5 fundamentals. This month we will cover the final two C.L.E.A.R. Leadership fundamentals. Please refer to February’s message to review the first three fundamentals.

C – Core Standards

L – Live by Example

E – Empowerment

A – Accountability

R – Results


Accountability –   C.L.E.A.R. Leadership is dependent on leaders being responsible and accountable! It means consistently doing what they said, when they said, and how they said they would do it. It means holding everyone equally accountable. No exclusions no exceptions or you divide the team and lose trust. Also no deviations for team members regardless of longevity.  Accountability does not mean telling someone something once. It means delegating clear expectations and following up as needed until completion is confirmed. Accountability means never leaving anything up to assumptions. When we commit to something we hold ourselves accountable to delivering what we promised.

Here is how we often lose trust with accountability. Someone asks us to do a task for them. We take it on and promise to complete by a certain date and time. Usually we think of what is the fastest could we get it done (if everything went perfect) and we commit to that time frame. Walla…life gets in the way and we don’t get it done on time. When we don’t do what we said we would do when we said we would do it we instantly lose trust. I don’t know about you but very seldom does everything go perfect in my life.

I have found it works best to think of what would be the worst case scenario for timing. For example I am often asked to write articles for different Dental Publications. If I know I can have it done in a week if everything goes smooth I will ask if I can have two weeks. In most cases it doesn’t matter to the publisher. I finish and submit my article in 10 days and I look like a super star! The key is to under promise and over deliver. The problem is our society has become just the opposite…over promising and under delivering. Just think about the solicitation and advertising you hear.   How often do you hear ridiculous claims? Do you instantly trust…or have you gotten jaded by so many negative past experiences?

Life happens and sometimes even with our best efforts we can’t fulfill our promises. In order not to damage trust keep people in the loop by communicating in a timely manner what you can do.



Results – It is important to have an end goal in mind in order to get results. Otherwise, if you don’t know what you want to achieve how do you know when you’ve arrived? It’s very difficult to lead others when they are unsure of the results you desire. Clearly define the results you want to achieve. The more focused the result the clearer the strategy becomes to achieve success. What will make the biggest impact in achieving your desired results?

Establish the why behind the results desired. What are the benefits if the results are achieved and the consequences if they are not? Identifying the why is what gives us the purpose and the perseverance to keep going even when we hit obstacles and meet resistance. It is important for the why to be a value of eight or above on a scale of one to ten. Otherwise, you increase the risk of losing motivation and not succeeding.

Set trackable benchmarks that are challenging and yet achievable. Monitor your progress daily, weekly, monthly etc. depending on the benchmark. When you aren’t achieving a benchmark take time to uncover the specific area(s) of concern. Where do you need to focus more time and energy? What can you start doing or what can you stop doing to make the biggest impact? What specific action steps do you need to take to get the results you desire?

Practice C.L.E.A.R. Leadership and lead in life!

February 1, 2017

C.L.E.A.R. Leadership! (Part 1)

C.L.E.A.R. Leadership! (Part 1)

Leadership can be confusing and frustrating. It’s why many people shy away from leadership roles. However, regardless of our position in life, whether we want to or not, we all lead in life. The problem for many of us is we don’t really think that we have what it takes to be a great leader or even a good one for that matter. We often mystify leadership by associating it with legendary people. We start to believe leadership is insurmountable and something only the famous or really brave people can do.

I have the privilege and honor of coaching and speaking nationally and internationally. What I have found is when I ask my audience to share who is or was a great leader in their life and why they are quick to respond. This exercise really helps to demystify leadership fundamentals. There are 5 clear leadership fundamentals that consistently show up. The acronym C.L.E.A.R. exemplifies the 5 fundamentals.

C – Core Standards

L – Live by Example

E – Empowerment

A – Accountability

R – Results

This month’s message will focus the first 3 of the 5 fundamentals.

Core Standards – C.L.E.A.R. Leadership starts with clear core standards. It’s very difficult to get others to follow our lead if we don’t even know who we are and what we stand for.   What 4 words in order of priority describe your core values? Would other people be able to recognize those values in you?

For example, my 4 core words in order of priority are: Lifter, Authentic, Happy, and Committed. If you don’t know what yours are stop reading and take some time to reflect. They are important to know because they will help guide us in our decision making. Defining and living by our core values will help us avoid the distractions of the daily mundane and other people’s shoulds. They will also help us have a strategy for who we want to show up as every day. Core values become our blue print on how to live. Every action or attitude is to be examined before proceeding. Does this action or attitude support my core values?   Which takes us to the second fundamental.


Live by Example – C.L.E.A.R. Leadership transpires when we live by example. In other words model the waddle you want to see! Only set standards that you are willing to support in attitude and actions. If you aren’t willing to support the standards others will follow your lead of not supporting as well.   Living by example is the strongest of all leadership fundamentals. It is what builds trust and inspires others to follow us into uncertain even dangerous situations.

For example firemen going into a burning building or soldiers into battle. If team members trust their leader(s) they will be more willing to step into the unpredictable and unknown and be open to change. Living by example takes willpower and a commitment to live each day aligned with our core standards even when we don’t feel like it. The more we live our life aligned with our core standards the more ingrained they become.

Knowing my number one core standard is to be a lifter has consistently helped me to respond based on who I want to be as a person instead of how I am feeling at the moment. The first question I asked myself in the heat of the moment is how would a lifter respond? This simple question has saved me many times from responding with anger or frustration.


Empowerment – C.L.E.A.R. Leadership involves empowering others to succeed. We empower others by being a lifter and lifting them up to shine! Lifters focus on helping others succeed. Not a one of us has gotten where we are today on our own. We have all received help from someone who inspired, encouraged, taught us, open doors and supported us. It is because of that mentor-ship that we are where we are today.

Lifters help their people to feel hope and learn skill sets that will help them be happier more successful. A lifter shares what they appreciate about the other person. They build up instead of tear down by focusing on the other person’s strengths. They have positive conversations with a minimum of a three to one ratio. Three positives for every one growth opportunity. Research shows that exceptional relationships have a five to one ratio. You may be thinking; what if I can’t find 5 positives. Every person has a least 5 strengths you can highlight! We discover strengths when we shift our focus from weaknesses to strengths. How ironic that our strengths are just taken for granted and minimized whereas our weaknesses are highlighted.

I like you take a moment and think about who lifted you up in life. Who was there for you to help you when you had fallen? Who open doors when they were all closed sometimes even locked? Who believed in you enough to help you believe you could take the first step in reaching your dreams?

Empowerment can change the world!

Tune in next month to read Part 2 of C.L.E.A.R. Leadership!

January 1, 2017

4 Steps to Help You Rise to Success in 2017!

It’s that time of year again where many of us our making New Year’s resolutions! Do you remember what you said you were going to do last year?   Were you successful at accomplishing what you set out to do? Or like many did you give up after the first few weeks or month?

I have the awesome privilege of helping dental teams nationwide cultivate a happier, healthier and higher performing culture. I utilize the R.I.S.E. Process (a 4 step process) to help them not only create but also sustain their improved culture results. I have found the same process works awesome for achieving individual goals as well!


December 1, 2016

O.R.A.N.G.E. Power!

The color Orange has great power! We get happier when are surrounded with the color orange. My husband Steve, teases me about living in an orange bubble of happiness and positive energy. Those of you who know me know that the color orange plays a big part in my life and my business brand.  So what is O.R.A.N.G.E. power?

Different colors generate different energy and emotions. The color orange creates feelings of happiness and positive energy! I surround myself with orange to inspire happiness and positive energy within. It also inspires happiness and positive energy in others. I travel almost weekly flying to coaching and speaking venues and spend a lot of time in airports. Whenever I wear an orange scarf or for that matter anything orange people seem to smile at me more often and even go out of their way to compliment on the color Orange. Recently when I was standing in line waiting to board, five different people walking by stopped and walked over to me in line to comment on my orange scarf. The man standing behind me asked if people always went out of their way to compliment me. I told him it only happens when I wear the color orange. A car service driver last week commented within the first couple minutes of our drive how happy he was to have an upbeat person in his car. I had not said a word other than hello but I was wearing an orange scarf. The color orange just makes people feel happier and more positive,


November 1, 2016

Cultivating Accountability in Others!

Let’s face it cultivating accountability in others can seem like a daunting task. Just hearing the word accountability can give the majority of us an ugh feeling.  What usually pops into mind are the words babysitter or micro-manager from past failed attempts at trying to get others to be accountable.

Cultivating accountability in others is worth the effort! – Individual, team and practice performance all dwindle when there is a lack of accountability.  Without accountability, execution suffers.  Our performance deteriorates when we don’t hold ourselves accountable to getting work done well and on time. The more we let things slip the more acceptable it becomes to let them slip again.  A day becomes a week, a week a month and finally not at all.

For example exercising.  We start out committed and then make an excuse that we are to tired, to busy or to something to fit it in that day.  It becomes easier and easier to make excuses until finally we no longer need excuses we just stop exercising.


October 3, 2016

Constructive Conversation

The words Constructive Criticism always make me cringe. There just doesn’t seem to be anything constructive about criticism. The dictionary defines criticism as the act of passing judgment as to the merits of qualities, values and abilities. I have yet to see where judging someone has helped to promote their further development and advancement or improve outcome. Instead, criticism comes across as judging, condemning or blaming and has negative effects such as employee shut down, lack of confidence and decline in performance. Yet employers and managers continue to utilize constructive criticism to promote employee growth and change. They continue to do so because of misconceptions about effectiveness and not out of maliciousness.

It’s time to transform the criticism part into a constructive conversation. A constructive conversation includes the following fundamentals and has two role players. The two role players are the Approacher and Approachee. The Approacher is the person conveying and enquiring and the Approachee is the person receiving and responding.


September 3, 2016

The Impact of Employee Turnover!

The Impact of Employee Turnover!

September 2016

The impact of employee turnover is more than just money. Employee turnover takes a huge toll on the patients, practice and the team by negatively impacting patient experience, practice culture, team performance and the bottom line.

The definition of employee turnover in HR terms – employee turnover is a measurement of how long your employees stay with your company and how often you have to replace them. Any time an employee leaves your practice, for any reason, they are called a turnover. You can calculate your annual employee turnover % by dividing the annual employee turnover number by total number of team members.

So what is the impact of employee turnover? Let’s start with the bottom line.

Losing only one mid-level employee that is paid $30 per hour and works 32 hours per week (annual salary of $49,920) can cost your practice anywhere from $24,960 to $99,840 in recruiting and training expenses. This dollar range represents a 6 to 24 months’ salary range of the mid-level employee. You won’t see it as a separate line item on the P & L. However, trust me it is there…hidden in reduced production and collection numbers.

I ask you to think about the last person you hired on your team. How long did it take to you to hire?   Where you successful on the first hire or did you need to rehire? How long did it take to train your new team member to a level of proficiency where they understood office protocols and could perform all aspects of their job? Six months in most cases is not a realistic expectation. The more detailed the position the longer it takes the more it impacts the bottom line. When I worked as a practice administrator at a periodontal practice we found that the average training time to be proficient was two years. Even very highly skilled and trained team members where not capable of just stepping in at the same level of performance. They still required a minimum of 6 months training to learn our office systems, protocols and culture.

Employee turnover affects patient experience. Your patients come to your dental office expecting to see the same faces. When there is constant turnover it creates feelings of doubt and discomfort. Patients are reassured when the person they expect to greet them is there to greet them by name and a warm hello as they walk through the door. Patients often build stronger relationships with the team than they do the doctor because they spend more time getting to know them. Patients often look to team members to reinforce the necessity of treatment. If you question this statement ask your clinical and non-clinical team if they have ever been asked by a patient; do I really need this treatment or would you do this treatment? High turnover results in declining trust and case acceptance.

Employee turnover affects team morale and performance. Most dental practices don’t have spare team members just waiting to pick up the slack. Which means that an existing team member has to spend a large portion of their time training the new team member. In most cases the team member was already working at capacity yet is expected to fit in the training and still perform at the same level. Very few practices adjust their scheduling to accommodate the training process. The added pressure spawns a culture of high stress, low morale and less than performance. In practices where there is consistent turnover there is very little desire to train the new team member. The mindset I often encounter is; why bother…after all they will just be leaving soon anyway. Even a high-performing culture is at the mercy of turmoil from turnover.

Employee turnover affects practice culture. Dentistry is a very small world and people talk. High turnover practices very quickly get a bad reputation in the dental community. The quality of team members they are able to attract and retain is limited. After a while they attract only those employees who can’t find a job anywhere else. OR they end up offering excessive wages to attract applicants and are still not able to retain them; resulting more turmoil and turnover.

Here are some ways to lower turnover in your workplace:

– Interview and vet applicants for character traits, attitude and skill sets as well as fit with the practice culture, managers and co-workers.

– Set comparable compensation and benefit packages with industry standard. Review compensation and benefits packages at least annually.

– Show respect and recognition to employees. Awards, recognition and praise might just be the single most cost-effective way to maintain a happy, healthy and high-performing practice culture.

– Create a positive practice culture with room to learn and grow.

– Keep employees in the loop and informed about future growth and how they can get there. Annual reviews or midyear check-ins are important; also encourage workers to come to you with career questions and goals throughout the year.

I also invite you to read August and September’s blog to learn even more about how you can transform a high turnover practice culture with high stressed under-performers into a low turnover practice culture with engaged high-performers!

Contact Judy Kay at today if you want to learn how she can help you build a cohesive team that support each other and the practice, become better leaders, and deliver service with more focus and passion!

August 1, 2016

How Can I Get My Team Motivated?

How Can I Get My Team Motivated?

August 2016

Trying to get someone else motivated is often a very confusing and frustrating mission.  I am often asked by dentists and managers, how can I get my team motivated? They are frustrated after trying a multitude of ideas including financial incentives and not seeing any change in behavior.

This may sound familiar to you?

We gave the team a bonus and they acted as if they were entitled to it…

We gave the team time off with pay and they didn’t show any appreciation…

We hosted a holiday party event for the entire team and their spouses and they complained…

We have the latest and greatest in technology, service and equipment and my team takes it for granted…

So if this is the norm…how do we get our team motivated?

The psychologist Fredrick Herzberg asked the same question in the 1950s and 60s as a means of understanding employee satisfaction. He set out to determine the effect of attitude on motivation, by asking people to describe situations where they felt really good, and really bad, about their jobs. What he found was that people who felt good about their jobs gave very different responses from the people who felt bad. Herzberg’s findings revealed that certain characteristics of a job are consistently related to job satisfaction, while different factors are associated with job dissatisfaction.

Factors of Satisfaction:



The work itself





Factors of Dissatisfaction:

Company policies


Relationship with supervisor and peers

Work conditions




The conclusion he drew is that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not opposites.

For example, if you have a negative work environment, increasing someone’s wage or giving them a promotion will not make him or her satisfied. If you create a healthy work environment but do not provide members of your team with any of the satisfaction factors such as recognition, advancement or growth; the work they’re doing will still not be satisfying.

People are motivated by interesting work, challenge, and increasing responsibility. These intrinsic factors answer people’s deep-seated need for growth and achievement. In a nutshell dissatisfaction can demotivate but removing the source of dissatisfaction will not motivate. It takes satisfaction to motivate someone to work harder or smarter.

Herzberg’s work influenced a generation of doctors and managers yet his conclusions don’t seem to have changed the American workplace. Compensation and incentive packages are still considered the number one way to motivate.

Job satisfaction happens when we shift the emphasis from output to impact. Instead of how many crowns have we done or how many patients have we seen today…how have we have changed our patients’ lives today? Motivation comes from the daily work itself, a sense belonging, and constant reminders that what we do matters.

I think of motivation as the seat of a 3 legged stool.

The first leg – Be a Lifter:

We can either empower or unpower! Help your team develop skill sets. Show your team that you believe in them by allowing them to continue to grow and learn by taking on new tasks and new roles…EVEN if you can do it faster or better. Be a creator who creates versus a wallower who sees themselves as a victim. Model the waddle you want to see. Let them know that what they think and what they do matters!

The second leg – Be a Family. Show appreciation and acceptance for each person as an individual. Celebrate uniqueness instead of comparing. Get to know each other on a deeper level. What else do they care about? Give them a sense of belonging. Don’t’ we often claim we are all like a family? So treat each other like a caring, happy and healthy family would treat one another!

The third leg – Be on Purpose. Have a clear vision and mission that reinforces a larger purpose. Emphasize the positive impact of the work they do not just in the practice but in the lives of the patients. Clarify the main intention of your practice by defining priorities and it will help give the team a decision making strategy. As part of the daily huddle, mission and purpose can make even mundane tasks become significant!

Surprisingly money is not one of the legs. Money is often a factor of dissatisfaction when compensation is not adequate or fair. Money quickly loses its impact to motivate any sustained performance.

The bottom line is we all want to feel like we have a bigger purpose in life…that we make a difference… that we belong…that we matter! 

June 30, 2016

Cultivating a Culture by Design

Cultivating a Culture by Design!

July 2016

From the moment we step across the office threshold we become a part of the culture!  The dictionary defines culture as a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and behaviors. Every office culture is unique based on the culture they designed or allowed to happen by default. What we do and even what we don’t do creates our culture. If we aren’t cultivating a culture by design we will reap a culture by default.

I chose to use the word cultivate because of my farm upbringing and because it is a great analogy for how I work with teams. Cultivators are designed to disrupt the soil in careful patterns, sparing the crop plants but disrupting the weeds. Similarly I help teams cultivate their culture by maintaining what is good and positive while weeding out the weeds (adverse and negative). I am a culture cultivator! The focus of this message is cultivating a culture by design and references an article, “Five Performance and Accountability Standards to Help Your Team Soar,” that I wrote for the ADA’s 2015 book, “The ADA Practical Guide to Leading and Managing the Dental Team”.

Take a moment and think about your current office culture. Is there any drama, disorder or performance decline? Do any of the following team members and behaviors sound familiar?

The Drama Lover

Kelly makes mountains out of mole hills. Any schedule changes result in meltdowns. If Kelly is missing an instrument from her cassette, instead of just going and replacing it, she wastes time complaining to everyone. She often gossips about one co-worker to another. Kelly believes life doesn’t just happen, it happens to her! She always complains, whines, and criticizes co-workers, patients, family and, for that matter, anyone who crosses her path. Her ongoing drama lowers team morale and distracts everyone from focusing on the patients and the practice.

The Chaos Creator

Sam’s life is always in disarray. He’s almost always late and has an excuse. He overslept because the alarm clock stopped working and he didn’t have time to replace it. Or he didn’t allow adequate drive time because he didn’t check the weather or traffic. Or he was late dropping off the kids at school. Sam’s desk is a disaster, and he can’t find any of the charts or paperwork he needs when he needs them. He’s never prepared for meetings, and is always rushing around, stressed from trying to catch up. The team can no longer rely on him to do his job, and have lost trust and respect for him.

The Checked-out Employee

Georgia has been with the practice for 25 plus years. She was an exceptional employee the first 15 years, but her performance has been in a steady decline for the past ten. Georgia challenges any new ideas and refuses to adopt any change in standards or services. She often has an attitude of entitlement where she feels she deserves special treatment because of her longevity with the practice. She proudly describes herself as direct which really means she lacks a kindness/respect filter. What I refer to as cutting off at the knees. (If you cut someone off at the knees, you humiliate them, bully or force them to do what you want.) This makes others afraid to approach her. She may refuse to attend team functions, morning huddles or team meetings, and refuses to put in extra time in a crunch or do what she considers menial tasks. Her attitude and behavior affects the entire team’s performance level. The team starts to question why they have to adhere to standards if Georgia doesn’t.

If you recognize any of these employees or their poor behaviors…BREATHE…you’re not alone. Many offices struggle with undesirable behaviors – they are often unsure of what to do and don’t comprehend the toxic impact these behaviors can have on a practice. They affect communication, treatment acceptance, team work, work day enjoyment, stress levels, happiness, and more. Patient experience, team performance and the practice bottom line plummet. These behaviors are triggered and escalate from unclear and inconsistent expectations due to lack of culture standards.

Culture standards help eliminate the drama of who is right or wrong and get everyone rowing at a higher level on the same boat. Culture standards create clarity and structure. When there is clarity and structure the drama and confusion that often divides a team disappears. The opposite is true when there aren’t clear culture standards, assumptions, false expectations and differences of opinions run rampant. Every team member comes from a different background with unique and individual experiences. What they believe to be true is shaped by their personal experiences. These experiences create their personal truths, which is how they judge what is right and wrong. Drama, disorder and declining performance surface when there are different expectations of right and wrong due to lack of culture standards.

Have a team meeting to discuss what culture standards the team would like in their work environment. In essence, what will be the code of conduct for the practice? Create the standards together. Creating standards to work by creates clarity and helps the team to be accountable to a specific level of attitude, behavior and communication; the ABC’s of teamwork and performance.

Here are questions to ask the team that will help them create culture standards for the practice pertaining to attitude, behavior, and communication:

  • What makes them happy that they want to see more of – list it as a to do
  • What stresses them that they would like to stop – list what you can do to stop it – for example instead of stop gossiping, use support a gossip free culture
  • What can they do to impact their co-workers and patients in a more positive manner
  • How do they want the team to show up for work every day
  • How can they support each other more
  • How can they communicate more clearly, timely and positively with the team and patients

Once you have completed the culture standards list, print it, frame it and put it on display in your meeting room or wherever the team will see it most often. Review it at your team huddles and meetings, whenever you hire someone new and whenever someone’s behavior deems it necessary. It is important and necessary for the entire team including the doctor(s)to make a commitment to live and maintain the culture standards even when it is difficult or they don’t feel like it. If a team member chooses to not support the culture standards they are choosing to no longer be a part of that culture.

Cultivating a culture by design takes a commitment from the entire team to support and hold each other accountable to the culture standards!

June 1, 2016

4 Steps to Nurture a No-Gossip Culture!

4 Steps to Nurture a No-gossip Culture!

Gossip is a destructive monster that runs rampant in many dental teams! It has become the accepted and even expected as just the norm for many dental cultures! I speak nationally and internationally to dental teams on how to nurture a no-gossip culture.  When I ask them who has gossip in their practice I usually see every hand raise. The reasons I most often receive are:

  • It just is a part of every culture
  • It is a natural thing that women just do
  • It is a form of entertainment
  • It is healthy to vent or blow off steam to relieve stress
  • It is a way to get feedback and support
  • It is a lack of what it really means to gossip

People who engage in workplace gossip often have a strong need to “fit in”, and feel that gossip will help them achieve this. Gossipers often suffer from low self-esteem, and think that talking negatively about others will make them look better. If we truly grasped the devastating fallout from gossip we would no longer accept it as the norm for any culture!

Gossip affects:

  • Patient care and experience
  • Team communication, performance and relationships
  • Practice performance
  • Morale
  • Trust
  • Respect

Needless to say, gossip tremendously impacts the bottom line. I refer to gossip as the Poison Triangle of Mistrust because it often involves two people talking about a third person. Nothing shreds trust and respect and divides a team faster than gossip. Haven’t we all overheard someone talking about us? Do you remember how you felt? How much did you trust the people who were talking about you? How much did you want to communicate or work with them? Gossip is the most divisive form of communication. Just think about the total cost in team and practice performance, team relationships, practice morale and patient experience.

How much more successful could your practice be if could stop gossip from happening? Nurturing a no-gossip culture raises trust and the morale instantly it also elevates communication, team performance and relationships, patient experience and the bottom line! This is big stuff and plenty of reasons to adopt a no-gossip culture! If we want to nurture a no-gossip culture we have to clearly define gossip; set standards to prevent and stop gossip; and establish consequences if gossip continues. So if you are ready to nurture a no-gossip culture continue reading!

Let’s start by dispelling the misconceptions and clearly defining what gossip really is! The sad truth is gossip happens because it is often thought of as fluff stuff and something women just do! “Women do not have to gossip!” BTW women aren’t the only ones who gossip…men gossip too. In fact research shows men outnumber women who gossip by two to one. Men just refer to gossip as venting or blowing off steam!

Which leads me to address the term venting and blowing off steam. Anytime we say something negative or very private about another person it is gossip. We have this false belief that venting or blowing off steam is helpful and healthy. It is neither. Venting or blowing off steam are just more acceptable labels for gossip. Whether you refer to it as venting, blowing off steam or gossip they are equally toxic. When we spew negative words about others we not only bring down the receiver (listener); the giver (spewer) is also affected negatively. Consistent negative thoughts, words or energy whether we are the giver or the receiver or even just in the vicinity changes electricity in our brain which changes the energy in our body and our organs that depend on that energy or no longer nourished and can get disease and sometimes even die. Gossip is just plain toxic to everyone!

Doctors and managers be mindful of sharing a short retort of frustration or discontent with a team member pertaining to another team member. It is gossip, regardless of how harmless it may seem at the moment. How would that person feel if they heard you say it? If you have a frustration or concern go to the source and no one else. Otherwise, you have done nothing to address the problem and it will only continue to grow. The only exception is when the doctor and manger discuss with each other (behind closed doors) how to resolve a behavior or performance concern regarding another employee.

Here are four steps to nurture a no-gossip culture!

Have a with a team meeting and ask the entire team attend. The first step is to define gossip. Establish the definition of gossip for the practice as anything that is negative about another person that would make us think less of them; or private that they do not want others to know. We may think venting or blowing off steam is okay and is not considered gossip. Good qualifiers to ask yourself are:

  • Is what I am about to say true?
  • Is it harmful or hurtful?
  • How would I feel if someone said something similar about me?
  • How am I going to feel later if I say this? (or listen to this)
  • Would it affect their level of trust and respect for me?
  • Does gossiping honor my own personal values?

Clearly define the giver and receiver roles in gossip. The receiver (listener) of gossip is just as responsible as the gossiper (giver). They play a fifty-fifty role. The receiver has the power to stop the gossiper from gossiping to them. In fact the receiver may even play a bigger role. The receiver is usually not at a heightened emotional state and therefore capable of thinking more clearly. Whereas the giver is usually at a heightened emotional state; the fight or flight zone, resulting in the cognitive part of the brain shutting down.

The second step is for the entire team to verbally commit to each other to support a no-gossip culture in words, attitude and actions. Which means they commit to stop gossiping and stop gossipers. Have the team agree on a word or a phrase that they will say if someone starts gossiping to them.   Some of my clients use the word peace (in other words keep the peace) or stop or please go to the source or even remember we said we weren’t going to gossip. It can be anything as long as everyone knows the specific words or phrases.

The third step is to actually take action! If you have a suggestion, question or concern go directly to the source instead of going to others. Say the word or phrase immediately when someone starts gossiping. It is also our responsibility to try to stop gossip even if we just happen to be in a location where several other people are gossiping. In a respectful manner ask them to stop by using the word or phrase and if necessary reinforce how toxic gossip is to the team and the practice. Old habits die hard so it will be necessary for the team to support each other with reminders that they committed to honor a no-gossip culture.

The fourth step is create clear consequences for gossip. I want to be very clear here regarding consequences. Consequences aren’t necessary if a simple reminder from a co-worker stops the gossip. It is only when the gossiper refuses to stop gossiping when they have been asked to stop that it leads to any consequences. It is important to have defined consequences for gossip just like any other culture standard. Spell out specific step-by-step process for number of verbal and written warnings before termination. Yes, gossip is a big enough reason to terminate! The bottom line is that when we support a no-gossip culture we raise the level of communication, team performance and relationships, patient experience and even the bottom line!

Contact Judy Kay at today if you would like to learn how she can help you build a cohesive team that support each other and the practice, become better leaders, and deliver service with more passion!

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Judy Kay Mausolf
Practice Solutions
18051 Jay Court
Lakeville, MN 55044