Home Dental Episode #638: 4 Reasons People Don’t Do What You Tell Them, with Katherine Eitel-Belt

Episode #638: 4 Reasons People Don’t Do What You Tell Them, with Katherine Eitel-Belt

by adminjay


You’ve told your team what you want done, and how you want them to do it. You’ve told them a hundred times — and they still don’t do it! What do you do now? To give you some insight into why this happens, Kirk Behrendt brings back Katherine Eitel-Belt, founder of LionSpeak, to share four reasons why your team don’t do what you ask, and what you can do as a leader for them to succeed. It’s easier than you think! To learn about the changes you need to make, listen to Episode 638 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Get the One Sheet, Courageous Conversations framework, and Katherine’s article on her website

Learn more about AADOM  

Main Takeaways:

Are your expectations clear to team members?

Can team members repeat your expectations back to you?

Do your team members have the intellectual or physical capacity?

Are your team members willing to do the things being asked of them?

Have you done everything you can as a leader to set them up to succeed?


“Most of us didn’t get training. Most of us didn’t have parents that modeled [leadership skills] for us. Some exceptions to that. We’re the lucky ones, but most of us didn’t, and most of us didn’t take a class in this. So, here we are, thrown into these leadership and management positions. And right now, we’re seeing a huge trend as practices consolidate, especially. They are promoting or advancing someone who’s maybe a great hygienist or a great assistant, but the skills that they need to be a great team leader are not the same skills as it takes to be a great clinical hygienist. They’re different skills. Unless we empower them and train them to have these courageous conversations, these coaching conversations with their team, they will never know how to grow them. That’s the whole point of having a leader of a team, is to grow that team into an aligned, capable, independent, self-sufficient, and successful team.” (4:39—5:45)

“I’ve seen a lot of people getting out of management and leadership positions because they are not enjoying it at all. And I think some talented people are jumping ship because we haven’t equipped them with the right tools and the right skills.” (5:54—6:14)

“Let’s say someone, an employee of mine, a teammate of mine, has not performed part of a system that we’ve all agreed to, and I feel like they should do it, should know how to do it, and they’re not. So, the first thing I ask myself is, ‘Are they clear?’ If we assume most people want to do well, want to do good, want to perform well — I am making that assumption that people want to do well. So, of the people that want to do well, but they’re not doing something, I ask myself, ‘Are they crystal clear about the actual expectation?’ Now, many times, we will say to ourselves, ‘Yes. My God, I’ve told them. We’ve talked about this thing in staff meetings ad nauseum. They’re clear. They have to be clear. We’ve talked about it a hundred times.’ But I would tell you, you can never be sure they’re clear until they can repeat that expectation and standard back to you in a way you would check the box. Because we often feel we’ve been clear. That it is not the same as the recipient of that message actually being clear. And the only way you know is that they can repeat it back to you. So, if they cannot repeat it back to you, then don’t even go any further. Start here. Continue to clarify the expectation and potentially the why behind the expectation until they can repeat it back to you exactly. Now, once they can do that, you can check this box. They’re clear. So, I’ve done my part as a manager in making sure they know what to do.” (9:20—11:09)

“Let’s say that you have decided that you want people on your team to communicate at a more mature level. No more gossiping, no more complaining, no more blaming, no more low-level behavior. And so, you have made it a standard that we communicate with respect, we communicate with dignity, we communicate with non-judgment, and we communicate effectively, and we do it first with the person we’re in conflict with. And if that doesn’t work, then we bring it to a manager. So, let’s say that’s the expectation. We talked about it in team meetings, we’ve read articles on it, whatever, and they’re not doing it. You catch someone not doing it. Maybe they’re gossiping or something. So, I would ask myself, ‘Are they clear?’ And the tendency for me would be to say yes, because we’ve talked about it. But if they couldn’t repeat that back to me, then I can’t check the box. Let’s say you either could check the box or you got it clear, and they’re still not doing it. The next one, reason number two, is that they don’t know how. In other words, they’re not trained. So, someone could understand the expectation . . . of communicating at a high level or a mature level, but they don’t know how to do it. No one has actually trained them on the framework of how to have that conversation. So, that’s a good example of, someone could understand the expectation but not know how to do it.” (11:12—12:47)

“You could have thought you trained them. You could have watched a video. You could have sent them to a class. You could have talked to them about it. But until they can perform it for you in a demonstration in a way that you go, ‘Yep, they know what to do. They know what buttons on the computer to push. They know where to write that documentation. They know how to set that tray up that way. They know how to have this conversation because they just did it for me in a practice session,’ now, I can check the box. But for both of these first two, there is this feeling of, ‘I’ve said it a hundred times. How could they not be clear? I’ve showed them a hundred times. How could they not know how to do it?’ But the only real test is, can they tell you, can they show you? If they can’t, you can’t check the box.” (12:52—13:42)

“The research is six times [that a person needs to hear something before it registers]. It’s called the magic of six. I have a certification in adult learning theory, and the research shows that it’s actually the repetition of six. It doesn’t mean you necessarily verbally tell them six times, although that would count. But it’s, ‘I told them once. I showed them once.’ That’s two. ‘I demonstrated it.’ That’s three. We maybe did an activity around it. That’s four. I had them review it. That’s five. So, six touches. What the research says is that it takes six repetition and touches to move a new idea or a new concept from short-term memory to long-term memory. So that’s what we’re after.” (14:39—15:27)

“What we’re frustrated with is they aren’t making the changes. And it’s easy to do what we’ve done repetitively because we don’t have to — if you want your team to answer the phone differently, or handle the price question on the phone with new patients, if you want them to handle that differently than they’re doing it, they have to really stop and think about the new way where the old way they didn’t have to think about it at all. It’s what they’ve been doing. They were repetitive with it, and now it has become their norm. You’re actually asking them to change the norm, and that just doesn’t happen one time, by hearing it one time. And more importantly, by having a coach to coach us through that. So, it’s that sort of tell, show, demonstrate, and then get them to do before we put them on the front lines to actually do this.” (15:35—16:30)

“The second one about, are they trained, really does require us to learn how to be good trainers and good educators in terms of these systems and skills. We can’t just assume that, ‘I showed you what buttons to push on the computer, and dang it, you’re not doing it.’ It’s a little bit more. And we can dig our heels in the sand and say it shouldn’t be that way. But guess what? It is. So, if you embrace that it takes more than one time for someone to actually get most things, then you can embrace it and figure out how to make that happen.” (16:34—17:07)

“If they’ve repeated it back and they’ve shown me they could do it, but they’re still not doing it, my next question to myself is, ‘Are they capable?’ In other words, do we have the right person in the right seat? A lot of times, people aren’t doing something because they have no capability to do it. I’ll give you a great example. We recently had a client, a young dentist, who purchased a practice from an older retiring doctor. And the older retiring doctor’s pace was much different, much slower, than the pace of the new young doctor. He had an assistant that had been with him for almost 40 years, and she was coming with the transition. And she was amazing. She was clear about what needed to be done. She was definitely trained, highly trained. When we got to the capability question, the truth was she could not physically keep the pace of the new doctor. She just physically couldn’t do it. And so, there was a capability issue there. And one of the reasons she couldn’t do or wouldn’t do all the things he was asking and requiring was it was a capability issue. Sometimes, we have people that we tap on the shoulder to bring financial reports or metrics to a team meeting, and they don’t have a high math IQ. And so, they’re bringing the wrong reports over and over. It isn’t that they aren’t clear. It isn’t that they aren’t trained. It’s just they don’t have the capacity. So, do they have the intellectual capacity? Do they have the physical capacity to actually get this done?” (17:25—19:08)

“Let’s say I’ve been clear. They’re definitely trained, because they’ve shown me. They are definitely capable. They’re still not doing it. Number four is, are they willing? Can you see now how many people in high levels of frustration go to, ‘They’re not willing,’ before they check the first three boxes? The first three boxes are on us. Was I clear? So clear, in fact, they could repeat it back. Was I a good enough trainer that they could actually do it right before my eyes and show me that they know how? Do I have the right person set up for success in the right job? Those are on me. But if I check yes to all of those and they’re still not doing it, now, my attention turns to them. Now, I say, ‘I’ve done all that I can do to set you up for success. You’re still not doing it.’ This now becomes a willingness issue.” (20:21—21:20)

“[Identifying a willingness issue] is what engages our courageous conversations framework to make sure people understand what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable. It’s non-negotiable that work starts at a particular time, right? Let’s say work starts at 7:45 for the huddle. It’s not 7:46, and it’s not pulling in on two tires at 7:44. It’s standing at the meeting, ready to go. You’ve already consumed your breakfast. You’ve already got your lab coat on. You are ready to go at 7:45. That’s what on-time looks like. That’s a non-negotiable piece. What is negotiable is whatever we can come up with to support you in being here at 7:45 or determining that it will never work for you at 7:45 and helping you transition to another place. And so, it’s when the willingness piece comes into play that we now get to initiate a courageous conversation that helps people align one way or the other.” (21:21—22:26)

“People were going to the framework, but they hadn’t gone down this hierarchy of, ‘Why aren’t they doing what I’m asking them to do?’ and essentially, have I checked that I have set them up and done everything I could do as a manager and a leader to set them up for success? And then, at some point, it is up to them. That’s that willingness piece. I do think they have some skin in this game, so this is their piece. But the first three are mine, and I think managers often don’t check on their own responsibilities in the breakdown before we go to the other person.” (22:28—23:08)

“What would need to happen for you to go, I now trust this person with this task’? So, if we, as a manager, do the work to say, ‘If I had 90 days of this, this, and this kind of result, then I would trust you.’ So, I would say to the person, ‘Thank you. Thank you for opening up the conversation to what I would need to trust you, because you clearly want to be trusted with this and feel you are capable and can be successful at it. And I 100% want you to be. So, here’s what I would need in order to trust you. The non-negotiable is we need success at a particular level. The non-negotiable has nothing to do with whoever does this job. Here’s the standard, here’s the result, the measurement that I need. And so, let’s talk about, together, what needs to happen in order for me to trust you, and what the time period would be for that.’ And I would work on getting them clear and having very, very clear check-ins about whether or not those things are happening.” (24:26—25:40)

“By the time you get to the end of [the check-in], it either has happened — in which case we need to say, ‘Okay. You’ve done everything I’ve asked, and the results are what I was looking for. Why would I not trust you?’ Or it hasn’t happened. In this case, we’re off the hook to say it isn’t for a lack of trying, and I think we have our answer. And I love to say, ‘The last thing I would want for you is to continue to work in a job where you felt you weren’t successful. What a terrible way to come to work every day. You are perfect for a particular position. We’ve answered the question that it isn’t this one. So, let’s talk about either another position in our practice, or helping you find a position somewhere else where every day you come to work, you feel like you can be successful because that’s what I want for you.’” (25:40—26:38)

“Imagine using this with a teenager. It doesn’t matter. Have I been clear about the expectation? Have I given them all the tools, and the how, and how to do this chore, or do this homework, or whatever it is? Do we have them in the right class? Is this too advanced for them and where they are? Are they capable of doing this? And then, we get to, are they willing? And the willingness conversation is a very different conversation. But don’t go there too soon — not before we’ve done our due diligence.” (29:05—29:40)

“They say that great communicators always accomplish two things: clarity and inspiration.” You’ve got inspiration down in bagfuls, right? I mean, you don’t have to think about being inspiring. But you have to think about, I have to think about, ‘Am I being clear?’ And other people get clarity — my mother got clarity, hands down. You never left a conversation with my mother and didn’t understand what she was asking of you. But she wasn’t always very inspirational. She often didn’t encourage me to take a step in that direction. I think most of us are better at one than the other. The best communicators find a way to be good at both.”  (30:07—30:47)

“Don’t wait until there’s conflict. Don’t wait until someone is falling down on the job to have a great conversation. We should be having ongoing conversations, especially when there is no conflict, to make sure people are growing into the professionals we want them to be.” (31:26—31:43)


0:00 Introduction.

2:10 Why this is important for your practice.

3:52 It’s easier than you think.

8:32 Is your team clear about your expectations?  

11:10 Can your team repeat your expectations back to you?

14:18 The magic of six in learning.

17:09 Is your team capable?

19:55 Is your team willing?

23:13 How to verify that your team is capable.

26:39 Develop leadership skills and teach by example.

29:04 Don’t ask the willingness question too soon.

29:41 Great communicators are clear and inspirational.

30:50 Last thoughts.

32:48 More about the One Sheet and AADOM.

Katherine Eitel-Belt Bio:

Katherine Eitel-Belt is considered The Unscripted Communication Expert in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. An international keynote speaker, author, and coach, Katherine is the creator of The Lioness Principle™, a unique leadership communication tool. This guiding principle, along with several other easily replicable tools, is what LionSpeak uses to help professionals communicate with more authenticity and effectiveness. The company specializes in a broad range of communication forums, including frontline telephone skills (including mystery shopper services), public speaking skills for executives and sales teams, media readiness, inter-team communications, adult learning techniques for trainers and educators, and personal leadership skills.

Using creative, non-traditional methods to help professionals break through barriers and achieve phenomenal results is something Katherine and the team at LionSpeak love to do! Through this transformative work, Katherine has become a mentor to other consultants, trainers, speakers, corporate executives, and managers. In response to that demand, Katherine created her Transformational Training and Inspirational Speaker’s Workshops, as well as her Lion Camp Leadership Experiences, which are annual sell-outs in San Diego, California, and are considered the premier team retreat for progressive, corporate, and healthcare teams.

Katherine is an SCN Spotlight-On-Speaking champion, National Speaker’s Association member, Speaking/Consulting Network board member, and past-president of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. She was recently honored as the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Linda Miles Spirit Award for her contributions to the dental industry.

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