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5 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Your Dental Office Team

It doesn’t matter whether your office provides the best quality dentistry, has the most high-tech machines, or offers a fancy décor—the most important feature of your dental office always comes down to the team. The people who represent you and work hand-in-hand with your patients are the vital part of delivering top-notch care and customer service to your patients. It is essential to give them the knowledge, support, and resources needed to do that job well.

There are five ways to adjust your dental office management approach in order to consistently bring out the best qualities in your team. All five of these things are equally important, and if one is missing or a weak link, then the others won’t be as effective.

1. Your team needs to know your purpose or your “why.”

Each employee on your team needs to know the back story of why you are a dentist, what you hope to accomplish for each and every patient, why you opened your own office or bought an office in the first place, and where you want to take the office in the future. They need to know what you stand for and how they play a part in the bigger picture. You also need to know their why and make sure it is aligned with yours. If they are not completely clear on how their role or duties fit into your why, then it is important that you help them understand and see that.

2. This is connected to the first point: you need to communicate with your team more.

I can honestly say that without ever knowing you personally. Every dentist either already knows that they should communicate more with their team or they think that they have succeeded in doing this, and most of the time, what they are doing in terms of office communication is not enough. Your team cannot read your mind. They need to know what you are thinking for the office, how they are doing in that bigger picture, and everything else that helps them to continually be motivated to show up every day ready to fight the fight and improve as needed. Only your communication can help them see that.

3. Next, give the team the goals that you want to achieve.

You don’t want to give them every goal in your head but pick some specific goals that you would like to accomplish. Be clear about those goals. Have a clear expectation of what it will look like when you achieve the goal, how you will measure it along the way and when you expect to accomplish it. I also think that playing some games with the team makes the process of achieving goals that much more fun. Everyone likes to play games. By just setting goals, some might see it as “work” or “hard” but by incorporating some fun into it, you are more likely to reach what you put out in front of the team and have more fun along the way.

4. Now that the team has bought into your why, gets regular communication with you, and knows what the game is, typically the next vital thing missing is training.

Up to this point, the team may have consistently failed to reach goals not necessarily because they did not know what the goals were, but because they didn’t know how to get there. By just putting out goals but not teaching the team how to achieve them, you will only cause frustration and failure for your team, which will negatively impact morale in a hurry! Train each employee on any areas that they don’t know how to perform well. You cannot expect a person to do a job or fulfill a requirement when they don’t have the knowledge or skills to accomplish it. The best way to do this is to meet with each person and discuss their job and requirements to help achieve the goal, and then do an assessment of where they are lacking in skills, knowledge, or motivation. Each person will be different, which is why you need to do this one-on-one. Some employees might need to get some more skills training, while others might need some motivational help. When you are aware of what they need, help them get the resources to fill that need, and then watch them grow, you will have strong team members and a stronger following as they see that you believe and invest in them.

5. This last point is very important, but often missed.

If you want your team to work hard, grow out of their comfort zone, and help you to accomplish your goals, then you absolutely must recognize individuals on the team for their accomplishments. Make sure to take time to recognize the wins. Thank the team, even in the smallest ways, to ensure they know you appreciate them. Find ways to let them know that you see their hard work, and this will help them want to work even harder in the future. If you don’t take the time to celebrate successes, then the team will eventually burn out and not want to continue to move forward with the next goal or game. Remember to build in time for fun, because everyone likes to have fun and be recognized. This will also improve the overall culture in your office, which is a bonus for you, your team, and your patients.

Again, these seem like five simple suggestions, but they are all necessary in order to grow your team and achieve your goals. If one of these is not in sync or you haven’t instituted it at all, then the others will not be successful. These five things act as a list of checks and balances that you can to refer to on a regular basis to make sure that no specific point been forgotten about or overlooked. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest team member, so give them what they need order to be the best you can be.

Laura Nelson

Laura Nelson, BS, MS, FAADOM is the founder and driving force behind Front Office Rocks, and the leading provider of on-demand virtual training and resources for dental practices.