Since the inception of dental practice, dentists have struggled to find the right formula for hiring, building, and maintaining effective and productive dental teams. This problem seems to be more dire than ever for today’s dental practices. There is ample research and anecdotal evidence from dentists that suggests that potential employees are less responsible, do not have a strong work ethic, and routinely change jobs.
While some of this may be statistically accurate, the reality is that the dental practice has become a more complicated business, especially so in the era of COVID-19. So, the real issue might not be how to find better people for your team but rather is there something . . . anything . . . just one thing dentists can do when managing their teams that will prepare them to support the practice during this recovery period? Yes.
The one thing
Team building is a very complex process that doesn’t just happen all at once. It is an ongoing leadership process that requires time, effort, and expertise, and it must occur while the dentist is seeing patients for eight hours a day. Team members will be coming back to work as very different individuals than before the shutdown. Each may be facing personal issues or have safety concerns or both. It will be a complicated time. To simplify this process, I suggest that you focus on the one thing that will have an incredible impact on your team’s effectiveness and productivity. But before I tell you what it is, here are the rules:
Rule 1—You must explain to your team exactly what this one thing is.
Rule 2—You must explain to your team why this one thing is so important.
Rule 3—You must solicit feedback from your team to get their buy-in for incorporating this one thing into the practice culture.
Rule 4—You must ask each team member if they will agree to do this one thing.
I know you’re probably thinking, OK, OK, I got it. I’ll follow all the rules. So, tell me already, what is this one thing?
Well, here it is. The one thing that will set your practice on fire is for team members to make an absolute commitment to get done whatever they have agreed to do. Now, I’m guessing you’re underwhelmed right now but stay with me and take a moment to think about this. Just consider how powerful it is to know that when anyone on your team says that they will do something, it will be done.
It means that if a team member agrees to check something, start something, finish something, research something, or call someone, barring anything unforeseen happening, it will be done. The result is more trust, confidence, and even efficiency, and less time is wasted following up with people and wondering what to do when someone falls short on something they agreed to do.
The complex task of team building becomes easy by simply insisting that team members do what they say they’re going to do. People should know that you will tolerate learning curves and even mistakes, but you will not tolerate them not doing what they say they’ll do. The practice recovery depends on everyone jumping in and getting things done. This becomes the office culture, and everyone understands that there is no room for error. They might not do the task properly, but the bigger error would be to not complete the task.
The magic of the one thing
When people do what they say they’re going to do you will save time, have less stress, and increase patient satisfaction. Dentists and managers won’t have to waste time worrying or following up on tasks, and they can spend more time focused on the practice recovery. If patients are told they will get feedback on their insurance within 48 hours, then it will be done, or they will be contacted without delay.
When people do what they say they’re going to do you your team will operate in a much more relaxed and confident atmosphere. People doing what they say they’ll do is a culture and a belief system that cannot be violated.
Teambuilding during the COVID-19 recovery will not be easy. It is an ongoing and constantly changing process. But there is one thing you can do to make it simple and to revamp your practice at the same time. Build a culture around everyone doing what they say they will do. Once a team member commits to getting something done, whatever it is, it must be done no matter what. Remember, your practice is only as strong as your team and getting them to complete everything they commit to will make them strong in whatever they do.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].Editor's note: This article first appeared in theMorning Briefing, a daily newsletter published byDental Economics,DentistryIQ,Perio-Implant Advisory, andRDH.Learn more and subscribe here.
Editor's note: For full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the DentistryIQ COVID-19 Resource Center.