Learn the importance that the Japanese term "ikigai" plays within the culture of your aesthetic practice.
BECOMING THE LEADER OF YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
Traveling around the country and speaking at virtually every medical spa show and plastic surgery conference this entire year, as well as reviewing all the surveys to come out of the aesthetic industry, three things became very apparent in terms of what the industry needs and wants:
That’s why we developed APX to fill these gaps in the industry, and why I’m so excited to share a conversation I had with Dr. Yolanda Mangrum. Yolanda is the CEO of Petaluma Dental Group (a thriving multi-specialty dental practice in Sonoma), Medical Spa Owner, Executive Coach with Fortune Management, Author of the book “Hire to Inspire: What Great Leaders Do to Consistently Achieve Winning Results,” and a long-time friend and client. I had the pleasure of training her practice recently and watching her incredible leadership skills in action--literally moved me to tears.
So, grab a pen and paper as you are going to want to take notes as Yolanda explains how to be an effective leader and establish your company culture. She shares her insights on how to set expectations, get people to stretch and grow, and commit to creating a thriving culture.
WORK TO LIVE vs. LIVE TO WORK
Our work is important, but so is having a life. In our practice, we work to live, instead of live to work. We plan what we want to learn each year, how we want to measure success, how we want to lead, and everything is an open book as far as being aware of business systems. The unique things that Fortune Management Coach Training brought into our practice are the elements of culture, leadership, and communication/support. We now approach things from a place of abundance and sharing knowledge to support our team members, so they can up level their own excellence and be their excellent selves. It was about getting back to the basics and valuing our people, rather than chasing after the next shiny new object, machine or marketing campaign.
Turnover is so high in the medical aesthetic industry. We had no choice but to do some self-introspection and say how can we step up as the leaders/owners and commit to developing our own leadership skills. We spent the last year really getting our team together, getting sales and finance training, and getting all our data into the APX Platform. We defined our niche, figured out what we were going to be focusing on, and launched a wellness and aesthetic center at our office, which was a great extension of our dental practice.
TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES LIKE PARTNERS
We don’t want people on our team who don’t want to be there. So, we consider all our employees as partners and stakeholders who are invested in the totality of the success of our practice. This is part of our culture.
Any business owner can experience frustrations with employees. Nobody really wants to be managed, and no one really wants to be an employee. People want to have purpose. They want to come from a place of purpose. They want to be part of things and have a belief system that matches what they are doing. We use the Japanese word “Ikigai,” which is an amazing word that is part of our introduction every time we conduct an interview. I bring up the word and explain what it means. “Ikigai” is when you find your place in the world...your mission...your passion...your vocation. When you can get paid for doing what you love, then you are in harmony or in your “Ikigai.”
Anytime I’m going to be hiring someone, I say I only want to be surrounded by happy people. The moment that you're not happy, let's work on it. Or, let me help you find your happy place-- even if I need to help you find work somewhere else. I don’t want people to stay around here if they are not happy because that is the worst thing you can ever do—have an employee who has quit in their mind but doesn’t leave.
The second thing I say is I only work with partners. That way, when we must have conversations that are corrective in nature, it’s usually because you are acting like an employee vs. acting like a partner. In our practice, we are leaders leading leaders. You’ll have things that you are accountable for, things we are counting on you for, and things that you’ll need to be able to take care of. As our partner, we’re going to follow you and do what you say because we know you are in charge of XYZ responsibilities.
People need to feel needed and are seeking out significance or connection. When you fulfill an employee or partner at all levels of their human needs, they don’t ever want to leave. Instead, they look for their next thing within your company, and they are invested in growing your company. They are finding fulfillment and don’t need to seek it elsewhere. We have probably 80 to 90% of our team members who have been with us more than five years. Most have been here more than ten years. The reason that happens is they continue to grow here and don't feel stagnant. They continue to get opportunities, and that keeps them around. It is more than just a paycheck.
If we ever get to the place where we're at a crossroads just because of the “money,” then there's something else going on. It’s really about the value they are bringing and how much value we are providing to them. It’s never only about the money.
We know you are adding an operations piece to the APX Platform which really completes the trifecta of sales, finance, and operations needed to run a successful and profitable business. Part of setting our culture up for success is having a solid onboarding process.
Our onboarding process starts with a definite “buy in” to show up and be happy. You must make a conscious choice to do this. We all have things that happen in our lives. We want our office to be a release where you can show up and play full out. Then, go home and be energized to be able to take on the problems and issues you may have outside of work. We must not bring those things into the workplace. We must show up with a level of service and a “ready-to-go” attitude for our patients. Our patient care is our compass, and we need to walk in the space of our integrity and be there for the patient first.
We have a Culture Handbook. We go over the vision we have for the office as well as our purpose, focus, team agreements and behavior. We call it our “Being vs. Doing.”
To understand operations and what it means to be a part of our team, we make agreements from the beginning about our behavior and how we show up. Those are the commitments that we continue to bring out and go over when someone comes on board. I like to bring out those agreements and explain to them that this is how we operate. I ask them if those are things they can agree to and resonate with them. For example, getting to work on time and getting out on time, direct communication, no gossip, etc.
I explain from the beginning about gossiping and how we conduct our conversations. We use communication tools that are in the handbook and explain how people can maintain healthy relationships. Believe it or not, we were never taught how to really have healthy, meaningful relationships with people. We explain how all levels of communication are either a loving response or a cry for help. When you can filter your upset through that lens, you can understand that the most important communication skills begin with understanding yourself. We explain how this works and give our team the tools to use while they are in the office. The added bonus is these tools help them with personal relationships at home as well.
IT'S OK TO FAIL
The other thing I explain to them is that it's okay to fail. What’s not ok is to sit and watch something break down in front of you and do nothing about it. You’ll never be “in trouble” with me if you just act and do your best in the moment with the best knowledge you have. If you move forward and don’t do something exactly the way I would have liked, then I will come to you, and we will have a conversation. I’ll explain why I would like something a little bit different next time. Ultimately, it’s important to have these kinds of communications ahead of time, so they understand exactly how they are supposed to behave in various situations.
We have many different training sessions over time about beliefs about people and their intentions. We can question someone’s behavior, but we never question their intentions, which tie into their ethics and who they are. We never want to rip someone down so far and not help build them back up. We frame it as: “What is the purpose of your communication?” It’s either a “build up” or a “tear down.” I typically try to go over these on the first day, but certainly within the first week of hiring because I don't want them to misstep or not really understand our culture.
Part of the onboarding process is going over job descriptions. I go through the job description with them and explain what results they are expected to achieve. It's not a to-do list. It's an expectation of value. So, whenever we have projects, we focus on the outcome and how they get there. That is part of their leadership training. I don't micromanage them. My team is trained to think and behave in a way that supports us all.
STEPPING UP AS LEADERS
We are all busy, but true leaders must make time. It’s one thing to have your onboarding process in place, but you must continue to nurture and build your culture. Leaders are not born. They are developed and cultivated. Every one of my team members are on track to improve their leadership. I train them and teach them how to be more effective. I teach them how to get more support with their projects. They work on their emotional intelligence. As the CEO, my job is to be able to sense if something is wrong and be able to address the elephant in the room immediately.
Maintaining a culture is constant. We all go through things in our lives that take us to places where we are not being our best selves. So as a leader, I challenge everyone to show up and be their best self every day. It does take a bit of energy and effort, but as a leader and a coach I can see the best in that person. If I feel they need a pep talk, I sit them down and say, “This is what I see in you, and this is what I can see you can develop into.” Having someone that believes in them...someone they can trust...someone they know will be right there to support them and back them up if they fail, is a part of our culture.
My main advice is to always maintain a level of emotional intelligence, and to be really keyed into the different emotions going on in the workplace. If you sense that something is off, check in with your gut, and don't be afraid to have a conversation. We call them carefrontations vs. confrontations. I never see anything as a confrontation. I just see us trying to work to better our relationship with an open dialogue.
A NOTE FROM TERRI
I hope you learned as much from Yolanda as I have. I always say if we’re not learning, we’re not growing. I challenge you to look at your own internal culture. Think about what you want to do differently for the next few months of this year and to move forward into 2022. Think about creating a culture handbook and going through and defining your vision, mission, focus and purpose, so your team can be in alignment. Culture supersedes strategy. I know it is easy to use the excuse you don’t have time, or your team doesn’t have time. I’m asking you guys, my tribe, genuinely from my heart to carve out the time. I promise it will be worth it. Stay tuned as our new Operations course is coming very soon to the APX Platform and will help you establish your company culture. Visit www.apxplatform.com.