Use Candor, Be a Can-do-er
By: Dr. Justin Baltz
After stumbling across a book titled, “Winning” written by the late Jack Welch, I became captivated with the idea of implementing candor into my practice. Welch, who is thought to be one of the most dynamic and successful CEOs of all time, led General Electric (GE) to great new heights in success and profitability. In chapter 5 of his book, Welch describes candor as “the biggest, dirty little secret in business.” Candor can be thought of as frankness, openness, sincerity and honesty. Applied candor is a frank expression, putting forth ideas to stimulate debate, straightforward communication, necessary criticism, and approaching disagreements with honesty and truth. In other words, it’s the ability to realistically talk about what is happening and how you feel about it, without distension or calamity.
Why is candor so rare? People want to be polite, avoid conflict, and not directly present ideas that are unpopular. A lack of candor can be dangerous to all parties involved. The benefits of candor are the creation of an honest environment, identifying toxic employees or patients, avoidance of conflict or litigation, stimulation of conversation, betterment of work culture and the deepening of relationships. Ignoring candor leads to superficial encounters, unmet expectations, stress, and failed relationships for both parties. Candor will look different for everyone and may not be for everyone. Keep in mind that words absolutely matter, and being candid must be articulated correctly, at the right time, and with the right tone.
Two types of candor are important in the dental office: those with patients and those with staff. In regard to patients, subtle but transparent realism as to what an office can provide is essential. Practices that treat complex cases may utilize paid marketing to attract patients. In this marketing, you don’t talk about beautiful smiles (optional), you talk about proper nutrition (essential). Paid marketing helps practices get to the point of what can be done for patients, but the new patient experience and candor fortify who the practice is when they arrive through the door. And that is what sells the case and fuels the practice. Be genuine and realistic about who you are, what your outcomes reveal, and how long you expect things to last, and let patients know it is their mouth and their decision to treat it. Regarding staff, I choose to put my degree on the wall and leave my status at the door. As a dentist, it is my personal belief and leadership philosophy to include candor by doing everything from placing implants and cleaning a room to staying late for a staff member or patient. Every opportunity I have to speak to someone is a chance to understand how they tick and what matters to them. When COVID-19 caused the 52-day shutdown and “new normal” within our profession, I had no idea of the internal impact on my staff. Like many others, I was forced to fire three employees and lost my most talented office manager due to differences in paradigm. Candor resulted in lost employees, the stress of who would fill these roles, and fear if I could hire equally qualified people in a market short of dental staff. However, the candor culture also resulted in a dedicated new associate, two elite hygienists I had met in years past, several talented expanded duty dental assistants, and an even more talented office manager who helped to cultivate success and “can-doer” mentality. Candor may shake the core of a practice, but it may also end up with exponential growth, loyalty, and endless appreciation of staff and employees.
Why not share in the “biggest, dirty little secret” in dentistry? Use candor, be a “can do-er”.
Dr. Justin Baltz is a passionate dentist and owner of Highpoint Dental Care and Implant Center, a private practice located in Aurora, CO. Dr. Baltz is a 2006 graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry and a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry. He has previously served as a Board Member for the Metro Denver Dental Society (MDDS) and a Member of the Continuing Education subcommittee for MDDS. Dr. Baltz has served in two international missions. His passions involve spending time with his wife, Ironman races, and traveling somewhere new with bikes, golf bags, or snowboards.