June 7, 2018

The Silver Bullet to High Performance

In the process of creating a high-performing team, analyzing KPIs, putting systems and protocols in place, and hiring the right people are all essential when investing resources. However, there is one key element that is at the helm of all of these. Without it, the best systems and detailed analysis alone will never bring about the high performance we want. This key element is the simple, seemingly magical solution to the complicated problem of high performance.

What is it? Culture.

Often, doctors resist talking about the “soft stuff” and prefer to focus on the numbers—getting production to budge and new patients flooding the practice. It reminds me of the notion some patients have to delay periodontal therapy for the immediate gratification of having veneers placed. It begs the question, how long do you think beautiful porcelain restorations will last on a foundation of failing bone and disease? The veneers become simply that: a veneer for what’s going on underneath the surface. If you think the “soft stuff” is irrelevant, you’re mistaken. Your company culture is the foundation from which transformation and lasting performance can occur.

Think I’m crazy?

Richard Branson’s philosophy on managing priorities when it comes to business is people first, customers second and shareholders third. When asked about how he cultivates company culture, he responded with:

“People are fundamental in driving the success of a business. If you treat your staff like the smart and capable adults they are and give them choice to make informed decisions, you will cultivate an environment in which everyone can flourish.”

Cultivating a Vision-Aligned Culture Where Everyone Can Flourish

So, how do we cultivate an employee-centric model and a culture that is aligned with our vision? It begins with understanding what your team wants and needs.


To gain a following with our patients, we have to gain their trust. The same goes for your team members. Our team is looking for a safe environment in which they can thrive. They want to be part of a team where everyone has each other’s back. Each team member wants to be able to share without judgment and be vulnerable by being able to make mistakes without criticism.

I have a colleague who recently shared that when he hires a new team member, that team member is instructed to make 3 mistakes a day for 3 weeks. He told them, “if you aren’t making 3 mistakes a day, you aren’t trying hard enough.” By doing this, he created an environment where mistakes were encouraged and celebrated. He created an environment where people didn’t hide, cover up or point fingers when a mistake was made. What a beautiful example of creating a safe environment.

  • Practice listening to what’s being said and more importantly, what’s not being said.
  • Ask your team for feedback, input and give them the opportunity to participate in creating a culture where everyone feels supported.
  • Try the “making mistakes” exercise for new members of the team.
  • Remember to celebrate each other with shared team meals, birthdays, and milestones. Host a “WIN meeting.” Ask everyone to write out 2 big wins they had for the week and prepare to share it in the meeting.


The team will always rise to the quality and level of the leadership. Your team wants to be led powerfully, with clear direction and a great vision. Be an example of taking ownership by having your values and your WHY communicated in everything you do. I always say, how you do anything is how you do everything. Your team is watching you closely for congruency and integrity. Therefore, be accountable. See your team as leaders and cultivate that in them. Be in the habit of acknowledging and expressing genuine appreciation. Increased performance starts with you.

  • Identify your values and become crystal clear about what you want and why. What is your vision for the practice, your team and your patients? Are your behaviors aligned with your values?
  • Read aloud patient reviews to acknowledge and express appreciation to your team.


Your team wants their time and work to be meaningful. They want a sense of community, belonging and purpose. We’re human, we all want to grow personally and be a part of something exciting, fun and bigger than ourselves. Each team member wants an environment that makes a difference for others, where they have a connection and where they can freely engage. By creating an environment that your team looks forward to going to every day, you will cultivate high performance.

  • Ask team members for feedback on redesigning their surroundings. How can they make it feel more inviting and beautiful?
  • Participate in community events as a team (e.g. volunteer, health fairs, school visits).
  • Post team pictures in the break room, create a reading library, host holiday events and themed days in the office. Hang a pinboard that allows team members to post their vision and areas of personal growth.

Create the Company Culture that Drives High Performance

When you create this culture, you attract talent with shared values. Your people want to work with you and wake up every day ready and excited. Furthermore, your practice takes on a competitive advantage where patients love coming, they remain loyal and they endlessly refer.

If you find there’s a gap, then have an open renewal meeting with your team. Come prepared to acknowledge all the greatness so far and share your inspiration for moving forward to co-create something new.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

This takes inner work, which is why it’s often resisted. It involves shifting old paradigms and behaviors and developing skills that are weak. Like a muscle you exercise, it takes discipline and effort every day.

Get a coach, read, journal and practice. Just don’t give up, because your company culture is the foundation for the vision you want to achieve.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

About the Author

Christine Brooke Headshot

Christine Brooke is a dental hygiene coach and founder of Hygiene by Design. Christine is committed to empowering dental teams to extraordinary performance and creating a life and practice you love...by design. Get a complimentary 45-minute Discovery Session to identify and game plan areas of growth for your practice. Reach out by phone or email: 866.809.4890 or Chris@Hygienebydesign.com

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