Cohen & Gottlieb

Case Study  – Team Development

Over the course of one year, Westwood International helped a discordant dental practice create a more cohesive,
respectful, and collaborative working environment.

The Challenge

Cohen & Gottlieb is a successful private dental practice with 11 full-time employees. But despite a sterling reputation, healthy revenues, and a positive patient environment, the practice had its share of internal people problems.

“Distinct personalities and strong opinions on how things should be done were creating conflict in our office. Ineffective communication strategies along with a general lack of trust were causing a great deal of stress on a daily basis. We were stuck in recurring patterns.”

After 30 years in the dental field, Dr. Michael Cohen had never felt the need to hire an outside consultant.

“This time was different. The conflict was somewhat insidious and hard to put a finger on. It was easy to see there was friction between the ‘front and back,’ but it was also clear that there were problems between clinical staff members as well.”

Cohen & Gottlieb knew that their office could be more positive, productive, and harmonious – but creating synergy was going to be a challenge. They needed ongoing, personalized guidance to make it happen.

The Solution

Greg Zlevor, Westwood’s founder and president, designed a personalized 12-month program to foster staff harmony and improve teamwork and communication at the practice. The program blended the latest research on team building, emotional intelligence, and personal development with Greg’s signature magic touch.

“We were pleasantly surprised at how much our staff took to Greg and that they were always willing to follow his lead. I believe that this was key to seeing so much improvement in staff attitude and a willingness to change.”

Over the course of one year, Greg facilitated seven team development sessions at the practice. These two-day sessions consisted of staff interviews, team-building experiences, and planning meetings with Dr. Cohen and Dr. Gottlieb. The staff interviews were conducted regularly throughout the year designed to identify problems the employees faced on a regular basis.

“These interviews represented a crucial step in beginning the process of change. Answers to these questions gave Greg a greater understanding of the practice as well as each individual staff member. In addition, they allowed our employees to begin the reflective process necessary to implement change.”

Each time he visited, Greg dedicated one half day to team-building sessions. He guided the group through a variety of exercises and carefully-selected assessments, including a team dimensions profile and a listening assessment that revealed each person’s strengths and preferred communication style.

Over time, staff members learned to understand each other’s distinct personality types and communication patterns so that they could work harmoniously despite their differences. The group also shared stories and contemplated important questions together: What does a successful team look like? What does that look and feel like?

“We used our personal strengths to identify problems on an individual and practice level, brainstorm solutions, and reach decisions together. We were beginning to define a vision for the future. In the course of approximately two hours, staff members who were struggling to work together in harmony were creating a vision together.” 

The group defined respect as the key attribute of successful teams, and identified that it was missing from their practice. Together, they discussed what respect looked like and how they could incorporate more of it in their working relationships.

Before the end of each session, Greg would meet with Dr.Cohen and Dr. Gottlieb to plan the next session and consult on their progress

The Outcome

In what Dr. Cohen refers to “a year of enlightenment,” the staff at Cohen & Gottlieb evolved into a more harmonious, positive team.

“Today, there is less conflict, less volatility and far greater stability in our practice. Our personal and professional interactions have evolved. We recognize our differences and respect them. When we have conflicts, we now have the tools to overcome them. Without Greg’s knowledge, expertise, patience, and perseverance, we would not be where we are now. “

To this day, Westwood International maintains a positive relationship with Dr. Cohen and his practice. In fact, because of Dr. Cohen we now conduct leadership workshops for the Seattle Study Club, which he founded. The Seattle Study Club is a consortium of dentists interested in learning from one another and deepening their expertise.

We also regularly conduct these types of leadership workshops for study clubs, dental offices, medical practices, and entrepreneurial teams. Read the full article Dr. Cohen wrote about his experience with Greg Zlevor

Westwood International • PO Box 1166 Stowe, Vermont USA 05672 • Phone 802.253.1933 • Fax 802.253.1935