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Dental team pick-me-ups during these difficult times

July 17, 2020
We've got spirit, yes we do! It's important to develop a positive atmosphere in your dental practice. Heather Colicchio offers some ideas for keeping spirits high and team members engaged during difficult times.

During the past several months, many of us have experienced changes not just in our personal and professional lives, but also to the makeup of our teams. Whether we had to furlough the entire dental staff, work on PPP loans, or rehire team members when we reopened our doors, our offices look and feel different than they did before March 2020.

It doesn’t matter if your team is still intact, completely new, or a combination of both. They need to share a vision, and as office managers we are the leaders when it comes to setting the tone for our practices.

First things first

Now is the perfect time to revisit your practice’s mission statement. If you don’t have one, write one. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Ask your team members what their two or three main goals are for their job role and for patients’ benefit. It could be integrity, honesty, or quality care. There are no right or wrong answers. The whole point of this exercise is to get your team pointed in the right direction. Even if someone has been part of your team for five, 10, or 20 years, this serves as a great refresher to revisit the practice mission. There’s even the chance that you and the doctor might decide it needs a complete overhaul.

Team spirit

Times are stressful for everyone: us, our teams and their family members, and our patients. We’re living life on the edge because of the strain this pandemic has placed on every aspect of life. It could be that just getting to work on time each day is 10 times harder than before due to childcare arrangements or the needs of family members.

Take time to provide small pick-me-ups to your team. Try to make work something they can look forward to each day. Here are a few easy and affordable things to try:

●  Bring in coffee and donuts for breakfast.

●  Leave a handwritten note for each team member to let them know how much they’re appreciated. It can be as simple as post-it notes.

●   Get together to create a fun video to post on social media. (If you’re brave enough for TikTok, go for it!) Be sure to tag the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM).

●   Catch up on your team’s dental needs. We tend to be the last ones to get on the schedule. Now may be the right time for cleanings or to do some same-day whitening procedures. As a bonus, you can use this time to cross-train your team.

Make things as normal as possible

There are a lot of unknowns right now, especially for those who have children at home who would normally be transitioning smoothly into school this fall. Do your best to keep things stable and consistent in the practice. Your team members need some normalcy. Not only that, your patients will be expecting it!

Host lunch and learns

With all of the information being sent our way, it can be difficult to keep up with it all. Consider contacting one or two of your trusted reps or reach out to your local AADOM chapter to find out what new guidelines or products are out there to help make our practices safer places to work and visit. Whether it’s an aerosol reduction system that’s recently been developed or discussing varieties of personal protective equipment, new products are booming due to COVID-19. When you and your team are on the same page, it’s easier to put everyone’s minds at ease.

Celebrate the small stuff

Finding joy in the little things can make us feel like we’re finally getting back to normal. Hang a white board or cork board in the break room and invite everyone to share their small victories. Maybe it’s finally getting a workout in again, being able to work a normal 40-hour week, or helping their kid learn how to ride a bike. Keep it simple. The boost in morale is easier when you know what to rave about.

Practice self-care

You may be feeling fatigued, bloated, sad, you name it. We’ve been in survival mode and are trying to make our way back toward thriving. Schedule time each day to take care of yourself. Whether it’s a warm bath, a walk outdoors in the fresh air, or giving yourself a manicure. Pop in a pair of earbuds and listen to your favorite music while you tune out the world. Refresh. Recharge. Renew yourself. It’s not that you need a special treat; it’s that you need a personal moment, period.

 A healthy, vibrant team requires the same in their leader. It all starts with a game plan. You can do this!

Heather Colicchio is the founder and president of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM). AADOM is the largest professional organization in the nation for dental business team members. Colicchio is passionate about small business and entrepreneurship. She enjoys collaboration and loves working in the dental industry.