Dr. Dennis Hartlieb

How to Set and Achieve Goals in Dental Practice

About the Episode

How are you approaching your dental practice as we move into 2023? In this solo bonding series episode, Dr. Dennis Hartlieb shares what he has learned about goal setting throughout his dental career.

Dennis highlights three central focal areas that matter within a dental practice, and he explores how to set goals within each of those three key areas. Be sure to listen in (or watch) this practical episode full of tips as we begin a new calendar year. 

About the Solo Bonding Sharecast Series

In the solo bonding series episodes, your host Dr. Dennis Hartlieb shares specific tips to help you with your dental practice. Dr. Hartlieb looks back over his thirty plus year career and shares insights he has gained along the way. 

To watch or listen to the first Sharecast episodes in this series, see the links below:

Three Tips for Building Your Dental Practice

DOT Origin Story: How Dental Online Training Began

Episode Highlights

As Dr. Dennis Hartlieb acknowledges in the beginning of this episode, plans change. However, knowing that plans change cannot be a reason not to plan! The most important thing as you consider goals for your dental practice is to both plan and to also pivot when that plan doesn't work out the way you initially envision. 

With that in mind, Dr. Hartlieb shares three main focal areas with us: 
  • Continuing Education
  • Running a Business
  • Physical and Mental Wellness

In the episode, Dr. Hartlieb shares his thoughts about goal setting within each of these three focal areas. 

Continuing Education

What are you planning to do during 2023 to enrich your professional development? Dr. Dennis Hartlieb shares about the importance of continuing education for dentists of all skill and experience levels.

 Dr. Hartlieb advises that we start out by considering what we're each like as a learner and then coming up with a plan. Once considering learning styles, Dennis suggests planning out your continuing education by topic. If you're not sure where to start, occlusion is always a great first topic to dive into after dental school.

Dennis shares, "You've got to plan it out. You have to figure out what [your next area of study should be]. Where's your weakness? Where is your weakness right now? What do you look at when you go into the practice?

"And it could be a great number of things. It certainly was for me. It was a long list, right? So figure out where you want to start. I would always recommend starting with occlusion. It is a basis for everything that we do. That's always my recommendation when I'm talking to young dentists when they are looking at the next thing after dental school. Learn occlusion." 

Dr. Hartlieb reminds us that there are many different ways to learn from in-person opportunities to on-demand online opportunities, but he encourages us to simply get started with our plan. 

Dennis states, "Figure out where it is you want to go, where you want to be, and work backwards and figure out how you're going to get there.

"Figure out your path. I'm a strong believer that dental school is just a starting point for our learning."

How to Approach Continuing Education

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Dr. Hartlieb shares about how to get started with your continuing education plans to enrich your dental practice. 

Business Planning

A central question to consider when it comes to our dental practice is this: How do we help patients understand and desire the dentistry that we can do for them? When it comes to setting business goals, Dennis recommends improving our leadership and management skills by reading books and listening to podcasts.

A few books he recommends include:
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  • The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  • A Passion for Excellence by Tom Peters
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Whitman

Dr. Hartlieb shares that it's vital to invest in the business and get the support you need.

Dennis suggests that we consider hiring a coach if the business side of things doesn't come easily to us.

Dennis shares these thoughts: "The bottom line is we need to lead and manage our teams, and we need to run our dental practices like they're a business -- because they are. Now here's the thing. I was I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed to seek help running my practice. Because I just thought, how hard can it be? There are lots of businesses out there. But there are a lot of businesses that fail also.

"I mean, literally, many of us spend thousands of dollars on our continuing dental education. We spend lots of money. But we feel weird about spending money to make our businesses better to help us with our business. I've got to tell you: stop it right now.

"Stop feeling guilty. If you're like me, find someone to help you; find a consultant or find a coach to give you guidance."

Reading to Improve Your Dental Practice Business

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Dr. Hartlieb shares several books that have helped him develop his skills as a practice owner and as a team leader. 

Mental and Physical Wellness

Finally, Dr. Hartlieb shares about the importance of having a balanced life as a way to get the most out of your career and to protect against burn out. Dennis also talks about how to both find more satisfaction in the dental work we're doing and also how to enjoy life outside of the dentistry.

About the clinical work itself, Dennis shares, "I think the thing is find what you love to do. And try and do more of it. I mean, I stopped doing extractions 25 years ago, maybe closer to 30 years ago. I was bad at it. It wasn't good. It took me too much time. I wasn't profitable at it. And I didn't enjoy it. So I stopped doing it. I referred it out, and it made room in my schedule for the things that I like to do.

"Think about the procedures that bring you joy. Do those procedures; do more of them. Help your team with that as well."

Dennis shares with us about how maintaining our mental and physical wellness outside of the office is vital to finding success and happiness within the practice. As we set goals for our dental practices in 2023, we need to give ourselves permission to make physical and mental wellness an important part of our goal planning and action steps. 

Dennis reminds us, "The most important thing - love what you do. Focus on the parts you love, and refer out the parts you don't enjoy."

The Importance of Physical and Mental Health

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Dr. Hartlieb shares about the importance of considering our own physical and mental health as dentists when goal setting so that we can set ourselves up to have long, fruitful, satisfying careers. 

Dennis Hartlieb, DDS, AAACD

DOT Founder

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