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One Amazing System to Improve Your Team Communication with Angela Heathman & Courtney Dalton
Episode 37014th January 2022 • The Best Practices Show • ACT Dental
00:00:00 00:24:29

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One Amazing System to Improve Your Team Communication

Episode #370 with Angela Heathman & Courtney Dalton

Did you know that your team members are actually craving communication with you? They want to know how they're doing, where they stand, and just have an opportunity to communicate. One of the best systems to improve communication is with a team member check-in, and Kirk Behrendt brings in two ACT Dental coaches, Angela Heathman and Courtney Dalton, to share how to create this system. You don't just want to attract and retain the right people for your practice — you also want to grow them! To learn how by improving communication, listen to Episode 370 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

The people component is important in your practice.

Your team members are actually craving more communication with you.

Team member check-ins should be frequent, short, quick, and casual.

Have team members run the agenda and the meeting.

Let your team know you care about them with your behavior.


“[The team member check-in is] a time for self-reflection. So, the team member will come prepared. They’ll fill out some highs and lows personally, professionally, where they feel they have strengths within the practice, and then where they feel like they can identify some opportunities of growth or of improvement. It’s typically quick, maybe 10, 15 minutes or so. They give all that information to their doctor or their doctors, and it sparks this really great conversation about, ‘Here’s the value I see in you. Here’s where I think and agree that you're doing really well. And I agree, here’s where we can maybe give you some tips or help you improve,’ and the doctor can give some really constructive feedback as well to help to continue to encourage growth in that team member. And then, the cycle continues. When you leave it, you schedule your next one so that there's never a question from that team member, ‘Where do I stand? Am I doing well? Am I not doing well?’” (5:30—6:29)

“What we’ve learned over the past few years is that employees really want more constant, less pressure type of feedback. So, that's how and why we adapted the check-in like Courtney was talking about, more frequent, short, quick, casual. Your team members really want to have that time with you.” (7:03—7:24)

“[Team members are] usually craving that communication, and they're always usually a little bit nervous [about the team member check-in], because a lot of them haven't had that one-on-one time before. So, before the first one, they might be a little bit nervous, ‘I'm kind of scared going into this.’ And then, they find out, ‘Oh, this is no pressure. This is just a conversation.’” (10:04—10:24)

“I remember being an employee at a dental office and never having a review the entire time that I worked there. So, I can kind of speak to that too, that we want to talk to you. I would always ask, ‘Am I going to have a review at some point?’ And I was always told if I don't, that that's a good sign. But that's not a good sign. You want to have these conversations so your employees aren't wondering.” (10:28—10:58)

“The team members are actually craving communication. That's 110% true. As a clinician, when you go that long, it’s a year — or sometimes, more likely, more than a year — between your reviews, you have no idea where you stand, if you're doing well, if you could be doing something differently or changing your perspective on something. By having that frequent cadence check-in, you know that the doctor and you have this really great open dialogue, and that craving is satisfied because you just know. And it’s not always about getting a pat on the back. And it’s definitely not always financially related. It’s really just about, ‘I want to be seen. I want you to look at me, talk to me, and just really satisfy that craving of communication.’” (11:08—11:59)

“Everybody thinks they're too busy, but they just have to schedule [team member check-ins]. The offices that we see the most success, they literally just put it in the schedule every, let's say, Thursday at lunch time or something like that. They're spending half of that time meeting with a new team member each week, and kind of like what you were talking about with Todd, just going in a rotation. That's what I found works the best, that they just block off that time and do it.” (16:39—17:06)

“I always also get asked about, ‘How frequently should I do [team member check-ins]?’ Because sometimes, people want a little bit more attention. Sometimes, people want to go a little bit longer. And I kind of relate it to sports and fitness. Some people want to work out with a personal trainer, and they want that constant, immediate feedback and accountability, and others are fine doing Beachbody on Demand in their basement. But find what works best for you and the team member that you're coaching — because that's what you really are doing, is coaching. So, you need to set it up accordingly.” (17:07—17:47)

“As soon as you carve out that time in your schedule and it becomes routine, then [check-ins are] not as big of a shift as they think it will be.” (17:57—18:06)


0:00 Introduction.

1:36 Angela and Courtney’s backgrounds.

2:25 Why you need a coach.

3:37 The team member check-in system.

7:25 Team members’ perspectives on communication.

16:12 How often to do team member check-ins.

18:48 “No agenda, no attenda.”

21:19 Last thoughts on communication with team members.

Reach Out to Angela, Courtney, and Kirk:

Angela’s Facebook:

Angela’s social media: @angeheathman

Courtney’s Facebook:

Courtney’s social media: @courtney.hannig

Kirk’s email: 

Angela Heathman Bio:

Angela Heathman is a Lead Practice Coach who works with dentists and their teams to help them accomplish their goals. She believes the hard work you do on your practice is just as important as the work you do in your practice!

Angela has over 20 years of clinical dental hygiene, dental sales, and practice coaching experience. When she transitioned from her role as a clinician to her role as a sales account manager, she realized both her passion for education and practice development. Angela holds a master's degree in dental hygiene education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Courtney Dalton Bio:

Courtney Dalton is a Lead Practice Coach who focuses on establishing a solid foundation in order for a practice to thrive. With over 15 years of experience in the dental industry, she is as passionate about patient care as she is about those who are providing it.

Courtney has an A.S. in Dental Hygiene from Manor College and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from West Virginia University. Outside of coaching, she enjoys teaching group exercise classes and spending time with her husband, Dan, and children, Lola and Levi.