Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Stay Interviews are a great and budget-friendly tool managers can use to gauge employee satisfaction, company culture, and shared thinking on improving and growing the organization.


Executives have two roles; 1) creating value and 2) motivating talent. Value creation requires combining resources and capabilities to sustain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Motivating talent requires leveraging human capital through effective management so resources can achieve their highest productivity. Companies that have struggled to survive through the COVID pandemic now face an even more significant challenge, the “Great Resignation,” which has dramatically altered what an employer must do to motivate and retain talent.

A recent survey found more than half of working Americans will be looking for a new job in the next 12 months. Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey found that 55% are likely to do so. Another 28% said they’re not actively looking for a job but still expect to move companies in the next year. As a result, businesses are looking for creative ways to replace workers that have left their workplace.

Keeping the current workforce is critical to minimizing the challenges of hiring today. Businesses now use signing bonuses and dramatically higher wages to help attract new workers. As retention efforts escalate, intelligent employers are instituting something new; “stay interviews .”A Stay Interview is the opposite of an Exit Interview: Instead of asking why an employee is quitting, a stay interview focuses on what motivates the employee to stay employed, what could be better about their work experience, and how they envision the next stage of their career within the organization.

Stay Interviews are a great and budget-friendly tool managers can use to gauge employee satisfaction, company culture, and shared thinking on improving and growing the organization. Managers who conduct stay interviews can retain top talent, engage their employees, and lower employee attrition in ways that others cannot.

A Stay Interview is a structured discussion a leader conducts with an individual employee to learn specific actions the leader can take to strengthen the employee’s engagement and retention with the organization. Managers are best suited to perform the stay interview since they have a more profound knowledge of the challenges employees face daily and potentially more power to make necessary changes. Stay Interviews can boost morale and workplace engagement by signaling to the employee that you are interested in their perspective on the job and the company and willing to make adjustments if necessary to keep them and keep them happy.

Some guidelines to follow as you plan for your Stay Interviews.

These interviews should be held privately with preplanned questions to keep the conversations productive and on track. Notify the employees that you will be conducting “stay interviews” with the workforce to uncover what makes them happy at work and what can be changed if needed.
There are many good interview questions that you can use for these conversations. The best questions to get the employee to share rich and detailed ideas are open-ended. These are some examples that the Society for Human Resource Management recommends:

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
  • What do you like most or least about working here?
  • What keeps you working at this company?
  • If you could change any one part of your job, what would that be?
  • What would make your job and overall work experience more satisfying?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work?
  • What talents do you have that are not being used in your current role?
  • What would you like to learn more about, within or outside of your current role?
  • What motivates (or demotivates) you?
  • What can I do to best support you as your manager?
  • What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
  • How would you describe our company culture to a brand-new employee?
  • What might tempt you to leave?

Once the interviews are complete, the next step will be acting on the information received. If employees have provided honest, legitimate concerns, take steps to correct them.

Whatever insights you gather will be useless unless you are determined to act on them. After analyzing the findings of your Stay Interviews, one must reinforce what works, change what doesn’t, and assess how your efforts are working out. Importantly, you don’t need to do everything people tell you but prioritize the requests from those you deem more valuable.

So, are you ready to get to those Stay Interviews with your employees?



Got Strategy?

Strategy is complex; it involves making tough choices, choosing what to do, and choosing what not to do. Good Strategy changes the actions and behaviors of the organization’s workforce.

Every company says they have a Strategy; many do not, including those that believe they do.

Let’s start by seeing what Strategy is not. When the redundant, non-essential, and distracting elements are removed, what remains begins to look more like Strategy.

Strategy is critical to business success. Creating and executing an effective business strategy is a task that the CEO and C-Suite cannot readily delegate to others. When Strategy is weak, objectives are unclear, resources are not properly allocated, communication and marketing are inconsistent, competitive advantage is eroded, and financial goals are not met. Operating with a flawed strategy that is not a strategy at all will lead to poorer outcomes for the business.

Richard Rumelt in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy concisely states that to detect bad Strategy, look for one of the following:

1. Fluff: Bad Strategy is a simple statement of the obvious combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords creating the illusion of high-level thinking. It may sound Strategic but lacks any actionable direction.2. Failure to face the challenge: Bad Strategy does not define or recognize the business’s challenge.
3. Mistaking Goals for Strategy: Goals or desires are not strategies. Goals support the Mission; Strategy supports and directs how the Goals are to be achieved.
4. Bad strategic objectives: Strategic objectives are set by the leaders. Strategic objectives are wrong when they do not address critical issues or challenges.

Strategy is not Vision or Misson.
Strategy is not Goals or Objectives.
Strategy is not a Powerpoint presentation or slide deck.
Strategy is not a mashup of words with Strategy added to it.
Strategy is not just another good thing to do.

Strategy is complex; it involves making tough choices, choosing what to do, and choosing what not to do. Good Strategy changes the actions and behaviors of the organization’s workforce.

“Strategy brings relative strength against relative weakness.”

Richard Rumelt

Making these decisions is hard. It requires focusing on what you are building and letting go of that which no longer serves your objectives.

Letting go is hard.

So, how good is your Strategy?

Anticipate customer needs: a Strategic Choice

Creating unique market offerings begins with a strategic directive that is focused, a focus that requires knowing what resources are required to create your competitive advantage.

Predicting the future is not easy. Tarot Cards, Magic 8 Balls, and Crystal Balls are not strategic initiatives you would invest in.

Let’s consider the following instead.

Happy customers… are created when their needs are met.
Happy customers… tell others and share their stories about your brand.
Happy customers… leave clues.

Clues are customer needs.

By anticipating these needs, you can precisely position a product or service to meet those needs. Creating unique market offerings begins with a strategic directive that is focused, a focus that requires knowing what resources are required to create your competitive advantage. Magnify what makes you different.

“Strategy involves focus and, therefore, choice.  And choice means setting aside some goals in favor of others.  When this hard work is not done, weak amorphous strategy is the result.”

Richard Rumelt

Use this to win and delight your customers. Stand out in the marketplace; it will be easier for your customers to find you. With this combination, all stakeholders will be happy,  and so will your bottom line.


Be Productive, Not Busy

…being productive leaves you with more energy and mental bandwidth.

Everyone is busy. The question is, are you productive?

You are productive if you accomplish your goals, complete projects, and ship your work. If not, you have substituted the urgent for the important, allowing busyness to hijack your efforts.
Your work is essential, don’t let busyness rob you.

“Never confuse motion with action.”

Benjamin Franklin

So, let’s try to become less busy and more productive.

What’s the difference, you ask?

Busy is hurried, frazzled, fast, careless, exhausting, jam-packed, overwhelmed, and fueled by perfectionism and multitasking. You can be busy all day yet still feel like you are behind by the end of your day, never having accomplished your goals.

On the other hand, productivity is filled with focus, purpose, intent, working more intelligent, and goal-oriented. Productive people move closer to their goals each day. They know their strengths and can focus their efforts on what they do best, one task at a time. When you are productive, you move closer to your goals every day.

Some tactics to shift from busy to productive:

· Focus on one task at a time.
· Be present for your work by eliminating distractions.
· Learn to say “No” to the unimportant.
· Do the “hardest” work first, don’t procrastinate.

Give these a try. You may find that being productive leaves you with more energy and mental bandwidth. With this, you can be more present for yourself and those around you.


Teamwork: a Work in progress

A well-orchestrated and cohesive team can accomplish magnitudes more than any single member could. 

Teamwork visualized.

I love F1, the speed, the colors, the venues, the technology, and the Teamwork.

Pit stops are one of the most exciting elements of a Formula 1 race. They’re loud, critical, lightning-quick, and can be the difference between victory and defeat.

It looks like this (#RedBullRacing World Record)


The pit crew makes a great example of Teamwork professionals.

How are over 20 individuals transformed into a single cohesive Team that can accomplish their work in under 2 seconds?  It does not happen by accident.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” VanGogh

Teamwork elements include:

  • Practice and Rehearsal, to build “memory”
  • Goals, so you know where you are going and when you get there.
  • Accountability, so every team member is responsible for their actions.
  • Review and Debriefs, never stop learning.
  • Coaching, to encourage continuous improvement.
  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication.
  • Listening and Questioning, so you will better understand the individual challenges.

It’s not drama.

“venting, gossiping, scorekeeping, tattling, judging, resisting change, withholding buy-in, and you know the drill … drama.” @cywakeman

A well-orchestrated and cohesive team can accomplish magnitudes more than any single member could.  This is the power and leverage of Teamwork, enabling an organization to achieve its goals in the most efficient and rapid means possible.  The entire process can be repeated, enhanced, and accelerated with each iteration.  Successful Teams can accomplish more goals while enjoying a joyful workplace.




Are You Sending Mixed Signals?

Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation.


Is it possible that you are sending mixed signals to your Team?

Some days it’s a “GO,” others it’s “STOP,” with a few “MAYBES” in-between.

Do you say one thing yet act differently?
Do your instructions and guidelines change constantly?
Do you have “favorites” on your Team or in your workplace?
Do you keep some people incompletely informed?

Some signs that this could be occurring maybe;
You are repeating instructions to your Team.
Work is delayed or must be redone.
The same mistakes are made repeatedly.
You find yourself doing tasks that you have asked others to do.
You are a micromanager and perfectionist.
Drama has resurfaced within your Teams.

All workplaces, Teams, and C-Suites are faced with management challenges. To achieve optimal results, all stakeholders must be working towards a common result. Executives must provide clear goals that support strategic objectives. Clear and precise communication is essential. The actionable part, the tactics, can then be implemented and monitoring delegated to the managers. Short-circuiting clear communication channels with “on-the-fly” changes, micromanaging, and reassigning tasks throws a “monkey wrench” into the operation. These actions delay results, risking subpar performance and falling short of your goals.

Try the following;

1) Assign a project or task.
2) Determine what deliverables you desire.
3) Set a due date or date for a progress report.
4) Delegate the above.
5) Don’t intervene or interfere.
6) Watch what magic happens.

Try it; you’ll like it.


Have you called your business recently?

Your telephone system provides the first impression to your customer; let’s make it exceptional.

Your telephone is indispensable to the life of your business. Have you called your business recently? If you have not, please do! What did you experience?

Does your phone ring and ring and go to voice mail? Is it answered with “Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed?” Or does a Customer Care Representative answer every call within a ring or two?

Your telephone system provides the first impression to your customer; let’s make it exceptional.

Many times, this critical system is taken for granted. It is a frequently used device to which we don’t give much thought or consideration. Over time, and with the growth of a business, a system can become old and outdated, frustrating customers and your employees trying to provide the best service to them.

You may not notice the “creep” of unanswered calls, too many voice mails, calls being answered by the wrong person, or forwarded to the wrong department. Like a well-designed website, a well-designed telephone system can quickly direct incoming calls to the precise individual who can handle customer requests. Granted, the highest level of service would be a person answering every call within the first two rings and then redirecting the call to the appropriate individual or department. In a busy business, this can be impractical and, many times, inefficient, depending upon the volume of incoming calls.

Plan and customize the “flow” of a telephone call for the clients/patients you serve most.

Our busy, multi-office, multi-doctor practice categorizes calls into the two customers we serve; referring offices and patients. Patient calls are divided into “new patients” and “previous patients.” New patients need appointments fast, and previous patients have questions about treatment and insurance.

Referring doctors’ offices are the most significant source of new referrals to our practice. We designed a custom workflow to speed up the referral process, “referring offices dial 9”. Once the phone tree picks up, they know to “dial 9”. These calls are routed to selected workstations primed to service our referring offices. As a backup, we have private direct dial numbers for referring office staff.

Although not perfect, a well-designed auto attendant can quickly direct calls to the individuals who can best serve their needs. Patient calls are routed depending on if they are “new,” “previous,” or have questions regarding “insurance.” After hours and on weekends, the auto attendant can leave instructions on how patients can contact the doctor on call.

Playing phone tag is a “game” that leads to delays and frustrations on both sides of the telephone.

Most importantly, your telephone system is not a “set it and forget it!” Your menu items and call routing should be constantly evaluated and updated to meet the changing needs of your business to serve your customers better.

Analysis Paralysis…try this Instead

A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”

Analysis Paralysis…

Do you seek additional information constantly when faced with making a choice? Once you have more information, does that satisfy you or create even more questions that now require more information and analysis. Does this cycle ever repeat, causing needless delays, postponements and cancellations? Have you fallen down the rabbit hole of information overload?

If so, you may be suffering from Analysis Paralysis.

The good news is that there is a cure.

It starts by realizing Perfection does not exist. One’s constant search for Perfection in knowledge and information is unattainable; it is a stall tactic.

It may be more Indecisiveness that is preventing you from moving forward.

The Father of Modern Business Management, Peter Drucker, provides the best cure for Analysis Paralysis:

“A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between “almost right” and “possibly wrong”- but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is provably more nearly right than the other.”

Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

I fall back on that last sentence frequently.

I hope it helps you too!


Skip the New Year’s Resolutions and Try this Instead

…the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!


Reading time: 1min 42 sec 

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions!

There, I said it!

If making New Year’s Resolutions were so effective, we would find ourselves constantly making new ones as we conquered the old ones. Unfortunately, less than 10% of those making New Year’s Resolutions successfully achieve lasting Change; 90% fail. Not very good odds. Not a very good plan to start the New Year.

The problem is that the same things keep recurring on our list of Resolutions; lose weight, spend more time with family and friends, spend less time on our devices, save more, spend less, etc. At times our goals are too vague; other times, they may be specific yet unattainable. Either way, you are set up for failure before you even start.

I suggest a different approach beginning with the fact that there is nothing magical about January 1st.

Consider this, the only time we have to accomplish anything is TODAY!

“The best time to do something significant is between Yesterday and Tomorrow. ”     

Zig Ziglar

Let’s learn from YESTERDAY and PLAN for Tomorrow, but TODAY choose to ACT!

ACTION is the only path to achieving Change.

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.”           

Dalai Lama XIV

Think, if you had to relive Yesterday, what would you do differently? What time was wasted? What could have been done better? What did Yesterday teach you that you can use to improve your Today? The slightest improvement from Yesterday is a better you Today! Repeat that cycle every day, and over time you will have achieved the Change you desire. You begin Coaching yourself, finding the minor blemishes, flaws, and defects that can be improved over time.

Enjoy the journey; it is with you every day.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

Start small; you will quickly achieve success by doing so, reinforcing your new habit. 

If you are stuck, consider the following:

  • Engage your brain and body every day.
  • Focus and finish what you start.
  • Learn to say “No” more.
  • Be more present when in the company of others.
  • Live Strategically rather than reactively. 
  • Avoid Regret.
  • Make better decisions by studying the outcomes of prior decisions.

What did your Yesterday teach you that you would do differently and improve on Today?

Start NOW!



Section 179…a Primer for Dentists

To understand how Section 179 reduces your taxes, we must appreciate, in basic terms, how your financial statements work and how they are interrelated; the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement or P&L, and the Statement of Cash Flows.


Using advanced functions for calculations in REDCap - ITHS

With year-end approaching, we will soon be turning our attention to holiday celebrations and festivities; Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and Section 179 Deductions!

Suppose you are a small business owner, especially a dentist. In that case, you will be visited by equipment sales professionals, especially at year-end, who tout the incredible tax savings one can accrue by using Section 179. With those two words, “tax deduction,” dentists become easy prey for the dental equipment sales rep and many times make large capital purchases for their tax benefits alone.

Section 179 is a part of the Internal Revenue Tax Code, which allows small businesses to take an accelerated tax write-off in the year of purchase for equipment that would otherwise be depreciated or expensed over time. Most of the equipment in a dental practice qualifies. Under the right conditions, it can be a great tool to reduce your tax liability while improving and upgrading the technology in your practice. Pundits are preaching the benefits of Section 179 as an incentive for Doctors to save on their taxes. Admittedly, there is a time and a place where we would agree; however, there are some Section 179 pitfalls practice owners need to be aware of and consider when making that determination.

Let’s take some time to go down the “rabbit hole” and learn some rules to be aware of when considering Section 179.

Rule 1: Only your Tax Professional knows best.

Section 179 has so many nuances that you need to consult with your Tax Professional before pulling the trigger on this. Projections and planning for your current year as well as future years are critical. Many times it is in the future years where the potential problems with Section 179 become apparent. Only your Accountant knows for sure if electing the Section 179 Deduction is beneficial to you.

Rule 2: Your sales rep is NOT your Tax Professional.

In all the excitement of the year-end sales frenzy, your equipment sales rep will most likely illustrate the maximum one-year “tax savings” for you with a quick spreadsheet calculation. I wish this were that easy, but it’s not. As my Accountant likes to tell me repeatedly, “It depends, David!”

“It depends, David.”

Maurice, my Accountant

Buyer beware; this calculation is an estimate only and should have the disclaimer, “for illustrative purposes only!”

Without a comprehensive understanding of the doctor’s financial situation and tax bracket, an equipment sales rep does not have sufficient information to determine the amount of money a doctor will save. You, as the doctor, must consult with your tax advisor before making a large purchase.

“Knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.”

Richard Feynman

Rule 3: Knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it.

It seems at year-end, everyone is talking about “Section 179 Write-Off” or “Section 179 Deduction” or even “accelerated depreciation.” So, just because someone espouses this term does not mean they know or understand it! At this time of year, this is a common question to ask, “Can I use the 179 Write Off?” or “How much more equipment can I buy to save taxes?” So which is it? An expense? A deduction? A Write-off? A depreciation?

How exactly does Section 179 reduce your taxes?

If you don’t know, keep reading.

To understand how Section 179 reduces your taxes, we must appreciate, in basic terms, how your financial statements work and how they are interrelated; the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement or P&L, and the Statement of Cash Flows.

First, Capital Equipment purchases are classified as Assets and appear on your Balance Sheet, avoiding your Income Statement altogether. The Income Statement shows your revenue and all expenses incurred to generate that revenue, not your assets.

Capital Equipment is Expensed in the Income Statement through the process of Depreciation. Depreciation is a complex topic best delegated to your Accountant. As the business owner, you should understand that the Depreciation expense accounts for the loss in economic value, over time, of an asset. This loss is the result of wear and tear, consumption, the effects of time, as well as obsolescence. This Depreciation expense is a NON-Cash expense, as no cash is exchanged here, i.e., no check is written. Think of it as an accounting entry or “adjustment.” Be aware there are several methods Accountants can use to depreciate assets. As a result, it is acceptable to calculate Depreciation for taxes differently from how Depreciation is recorded for accounting purposes.

So, say you purchased that new Cone Beam Scanner for $100,000, and your Accountant recommended a 5-year depreciation schedule to match your 5-year bank loan. Assuming the equipment will be fully depreciated to a book value of zero, your Depreciation would be $20,000 per year.  This $20,000 shows up on your Income Statement as a Depreciation Expense, thus reducing your Net Income by $20,000.

Remember, your Net Income is linked to your Balance Sheet through the Retained Earnings section. The Retained Earnings account enables a cash basis corporation to track the balances of all undistributed Net Income. The essential point is that Income is distributed to shareholders (the dentist) from the Retained Earnings account.

Since most dental Corporations are Pass-Through Entities and not subject to taxation, your $100,000 Cone Beam Scanner, depreciated at $20,000 per year, has effectively reduced your Net Income and, ultimately, your Retained Earnings by the same amount. This $20,000 depreciation expense effectively lowers your Retained Earnings by the same $20,000. With a smaller Retained Earnings account balance, Income distributed to the shareholders would be less too. With less Income, taxes would also be less.

There you have it, your Section 179 Deduction works through your financial statements, ultimately potentially lowering your Income and with it your taxes.

Remember, and the critical point here is your mileage may vary, as may your tax savings. Only your Accountant knows for sure if Section 179 is beneficial to you. 

Rule 4: You should never be in a hurry to buy equipment!

Section 179 is available to you year-round, not just on the closing days of the year. It is not a time-limited offer valid in December only!

There is no special Tax Magic for Section 179 at year-end. The rush and panic are created because to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction; the equipment must be purchased and put into service by December 31! Ideally, it would be best to carefully plan your major capital expenditures throughout the year, not rushing at the last closing moments of the year to get the equipment installed.

So, please feel free to purchase your needed equipment throughout the year, not just in December, and still take advantage of Section 179 Depreciation while enjoying using your new technology.

Rule 5: You get the maximum deduction with or without Section 179.

It is essential to realize that your Accountant will fully depreciate all Capital Equipment. Section 179 does not allow for any additional depreciation. Section 179 takes all the Depreciation in one year, no more, no less: no special magic or secret sauce.

Rule 6: You Still Have to Pay for the Equipment!

Write off, deduction, expensing all sound wonderful, but none of these verbs reduce the cost of your equipment. You must still pay for it.

After celebrating your massive Section 179 year-end deduction that just saved you taxes, you are left with the reality of paying on your banknote for the next five years or so.

You have now completely lost the depreciation expense and deduction on your income statement in future years since you took all of your Depreciation in the year of purchase by electing Section 179. In future years you now have less cash because you are now paying on your debt service. You now have a higher taxable income and the corresponding tax bill that further reduces your cash without deductions! Many call this Section 179 “tax trap.”

Rule 7: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

With all the year-end excitement and frenzy is sounds like a great idea to write everything off, but doing so may not result in all the tax savings claimed. In deciding whether to elect Section 179 or Bonus Depreciation, doctors need to consider expected future earnings. One might want to save some deductions for the future when earnings and taxes could be higher.

As with any tax decision, you cannot look at the current year with blinders on. Before deciding to take the Section179 deduction, it’s vital that you and your Accountant discuss this year’s tax implications and the impact it will have on future years. Ask your Accountant if the refund I get this year is at the expense of next year. Don’t fall for the Section 179 Tax Trap! 

Rule 8: Never buy a tax deduction.

Maximizing and growing your Income is the key to growing your wealth and becoming financially independent. Minimizing taxes at all costs is not a wealth creation strategy. Spending your cash to buy a business tax deduction is not a financially sound plan. Your deduction reduces your taxable Income by the amount of your expense, just like if you were buying something on sale. If your marginal tax rate is 35%, you get everything the practice buys at 35% off. The kicker is, and many forget, you still have to pay for the 65%.

Said another way, would you spend $1000 to save $350? Understand that simple question along with the answer, and you are well on your way to creating wealth.

Remember, Section 179 only accelerates Depreciation; it does not allow any additional write-offs, deductions, or Depreciation.

And finally, never buy a tax deduction. If you need the equipment to provide better care to your patients, then, by all means, purchase it, but buying it solely for its tax deduction is a wealth-destroying strategy.

David Darab DDS MBA