Illusion Of Control Is A Dangerous Thing With Dr. Justin Bhullar

Episode 089

This week we have a conversation with Dr. Justin Bhullar. He has some great insight on running multiple practices plus he is just an all-around cool guy. Take a listen on episode 89 of Business of Dentistry.

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Dr. Justin and I met while looking for the hotel gym one morning before the Voices of Dentistry conference began for the day. We started chatting and it felt like we were on the same wavelength right from the start, which is why I’m really glad he sat down with me for today’s conversation!

Dr. Justin is from British Columbia, Canada and went to the University of Saskatchewan where he studied Biochemistry and Dentistry. Today he owns multiple practices – scaled down from nine offices to four core offices. He did so with the principal goal of getting his life back. He explains that when you scale a business all your small problems are magnified.

He loved what he was doing but he still had to look at where he had to set firmer boundaries. He found a better way by scaling down, and creating more time for himself. Now he does clinical work two days a week and the other three days are left for focusing on the business aspects of his practice.

He’s been able to do so because he has a partner, associates, and great relationships with other doctors; Dr. Justin says these people are the reason he’s able to do what he does today.

Along the way he’s had to learn how not to micromanage, something dental school seems to set dentists up to be! Because dental school trains you to follow a cookie cutter recipe for everything it gives you the impression of control.

However none of us actually have control over everything so you have to delegate and automate wherever you can. You also have to take a step back in situations and ask if you are the right person to be doing what you are doing, or is there someone better suited to the task?

In general there are three questions to ask yourself when doing a task: do you enjoy it? Is there someone else who is stronger in this area who could be doing this? And is this going to bring you new patients, increase the revenue of this business and/or contribute to the growth of the business? If the answer is no to any question, especially to the last one, then you need to step back and have someone else do it for you.

We also touched on annual reviews and why we’re both changing to different ways of managing our teams performance. At the heart of it all Dr. Justin explains it is about effective communication and leadership.
As the leader of your practice you have to be able to support your team, and hold them accountable – but this is only possible through effective communication.

If someone isn’t doing an aspect of their job as well as is needed, we have to ask ourselves if we have talked to them about it and if we have taught them how to do what they are being expected to do. For example, you can’t discipline your child for not making their bed if you didn’t show them how to make their bed in the first place!

A better solution is to talk with that person and explain you have a certain goal and that goal will be measured in specific ways. Then make sure they are clear about the goal, the measurements to achieve that goal and the expectations involved. When you do all of that you’re being transparent with your staff and setting them up in the best possible position to achieve goals and for everyone to win.

You can also ask yourself: is it a training issue or a discipline issue? They are handled differently. If you’ve asked someone to do something but haven’t given them the tools or resources or guidance to do it properly and to do it in the way expected of them then it’s a training issue. And training issues fall on the shoulders of each of us as the practice owner.

The discipline issue happens when someone has the knowledge and the tools, but is still choosing not to do the task properly. How that situation is handled is quite different than a training issue. Personally I’ve found most of the time it’s a training issue and it’s my fault!

We also dig into the topics of why and how failure can be a great learning tool, why you have to be self-aware and take accountability for what isn’t working. We wrap up with how Dr. Justin turned his own health around, and why health is the cornerstone for all of us to be the best person we can be professionally and personally. Join us for all of that in our conversation today on episode 89 of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Look within before you look outwards for why things aren’t working.” 

Episode Resources

Dr. Justin Bhullar’s web site
Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
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