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7 Keys to Building Your Dental Office Dream Team

Every dentist dreams of having the best dental team. Likewise, every employee hopes that the office they work at will be an amazing office, and every patient wants to find an office that will be the best fit for them. Each person involved with a dental office wants the same thing…but not every office can accomplish it. No matter how hard a dental office strives to have this scenario, it may not always be possible. Why? There is a difference between those who achieve it and those who don’t. Either they don’t know what is needed to build a dream team, or it can’t happen because they know what’s needed but are not willing to put in the work to achieve it.

To build a dream team, you have to know the recipe to build it. There are seven ingredients to making a dream team, but there is also a secret eighth ingredient: you have to continue to work at it if you want to enjoy it.

Here’s the 7 Key Factors to Building a Dental Practice Dream Team:

1. Great Leadership

2. Dedicated Employees

3. Amazing Culture

4. Knowing Your Why

5. Watching Attitudes

6. Goals and Games

7. Remembering Patients Are Your Purpose

An amazing team will not happen without a great leader. There are people who are born as good leaders, and there are those who learn to be leaders. People like to follow someone and their beliefs, and the dentist really needs to be the one to lead the team in this way. If the dentist isn’t naturally a good leader or does not become one, either someone else will step up to lead, or no one will lead and then you just have a group of people doing what they think is right. To have a great team all working toward the same goal and playing by the same rules, they need to be led effectively by the owner (and the office manager as well, if there is one).

Next, mix in great team members, too. A leader can only be a leader if they have a group that follows them. Therefore, good hiring and training is vital. Hiring the right people is crucial to ensuring success, because the team can either make or break a business. Hiring is not the only step in the process. Investing in the team with training, motivation and support will help them to not only feel valued but also help them continually grow and improve.

The next important part of building the dream dental team is to have the right culture that encourages everyone to thrive and grow. The culture is the energy of the business. With the right culture, even the not-so-amazing employee can improve. On the flip side, a bad culture can suck the energy and motivation out of good employees. The culture is something that is set by the leader and then needs to be nourished and maintained. A culture of a business is a living, growing thing, and it must be nurtured to ensure that it will stay as the owner wants it. If things start to erupt that can cause the culture to go bad, they need to be handled immediately and removed from the business. A great example of this is allowing drama and gossip to enter into the organization. That is the biggest reason why a great culture can change to a bad one. Most of the time, it is because the leadership did nothing to stop it when it started sneaking in.

Now you are ready to identify the why and make sure to communicate it to your team to ensure they have a similar why and can support you in it. We are in the business of helping our patients keep their teeth for life and living a better, longer life. That is a strong why and should be communicated on a regular basis to yourself as the owner and to your team. Making sure your entire organization understands and always makes decisions with that why is the forefront of all that you do. If you start with the why, your team will know the reason everything they do and will help push the practice in that direction on a day-to-day basis.

Working in a dental office can be quite stressful at times. Crazy schedule, patients cancelling or running late, scared patients stressed out, procedures running behind, and so much more. With as many issues as dental offices have on a daily basis, there are bound to be times that tension gets high and attitudes flare up. This can happen even with the best team and should be expected. However, the better we learn to work together, hopefully this happens less and less. When it does happen, it should be addressed and handled as soon as possible after. Take steps to acknowledge that there was some stress or tension, maybe apologize if needed to clear the air, and then talk about how next time it can be handled better. These steps will help to keep team tension under control in the office and not break down an amazing team.

Teams work harder and are more unified when they know what they are trying to accomplish. The why is great, but then people need to know that they are making strides toward reaching what they want to achieve. People need goals. They need to know if they are improving, doing better, and/or on the way to win the game. People also like to have fun, and many are competitive, so playing games can help turn any good team into an amazing team. Play big games or small games, but just set goals that can be achieved, motivate the team, and allow them to win as they work to achieve the why.

There is one final group in this amazing team that I haven’t mentioned yet, and this is actually the most important group of all: the patients. If it weren’t for the patients, no one on your team would have a job. It is important for everyone on the team to recognize their purpose each and every day is to take care of that patient in front of them. Regardless of how bad their day is going, how stressful the schedule is, how much paperwork they have sitting in front of them, always put the patient first. When you have a team with all of these elements and a dedicated focus on the patient as the reason for it all, you will have a true “dream team”—one that can crush your day-to-day goals and also help you achieve all of the long-term goals you set when you started down the path of owning your own office.

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.