Happy Dental Office Team

5 strategies to create a self-managed dental team

July 16, 2014
There are five simple steps that once started become second nature to running a smooth and happy dental team

“Why do I have to keep going over this with my dental team?” Does this question sound familiar? I know that in my 20+ years of managing dental teams, I’ve probably asked this hundreds of times. The frustration of it can wear you down, can’t it? Just in the last week I’ve heard this question from two different clients. The truth is, we often approach this type of situation unequipped and unprepared.

I’ve worked with managers for many years now. I’ve hired, trained, and mentored many of them. Most just do not understand why everyone else cannot simply follow their systems. I understand that way of thinking, and honestly, it’s one of the things I love about managers. I believe that you are set apart in the workplace.

Here are my five easy strategies for creating that self-managed dental team that will make your life easier:

1) First and foremost, you need a system of accountability with team members.
Accountability infers that there will be consequences if actions are not corrected, so whatever your stages of discipline are, you need to be ready and willing to implement discipline. Here is a great system to get you on track with holding your team accountable.

Set up a one-on-one monthly meeting with every team member. Set aside 15 minutes a month for the meeting. Some offices print out a free online calendar for each team member and use it to document tardy or sick days, areas of praise and concern, action plan to correct behavior. Schedule the following month’s meeting and go over the progress, troubleshoot breakdowns, set new goal, and more. It’s very important to let this be a give and take conversation. It’s a great time to find out how you can support team members, and ask if there is anything you can do for them that would make their job better. This eliminates the annual employee evaluation, so make sure employees are clear on this.

2) Evaluate or implement a new system.
It’s important to include the entire team in finding the solution. It’s amazing what teams can come up with when you allow time for problem solving. I know from experience that this will bring unity to your team and evoke a sense of personal responsibility. Make sure everyone is clear on implementation before leaving the meeting.

3) Roll-play the system.
Whatever the system is, it can almost always be roll played. I suggest you get the team on their feet and walk through it. Select someone to be the patient, doctor, financial coordinator – whatever the situation calls for. Have fun! I recommend scheduling quarterly roll playing meetings.

4) Have a “how to” book of your office systems.
For offices that have never documented their systems, this can be a bit overwhelming. I suggest you create as shared document file on the office computer server so that anyone in the office can access the file from any computer in your office. You might consider enlisting the front and back office team members to share the load of documenting your systems.

5) Have a “system quiz exercise” with prizes.
This is a fun way to engage the team – everyone likes a $5 Starbucks or Subway gift card. This is a verbal breakdown of the system. Do this year-round, and make sure everyone gets in on the prizes at some point. This is also a great time for you to express the importance of systems and why consistency and detail matter.

While manager’s styles vary and teams develop their own culture, all these suggestions come down to one thing – relationships! Build trust and relationships with your team, seek to be a strong and effective leader, and you’ll have a self-managed team before you know it!

As a dental practice consultant, Kim McCleskey specializes in the pre- and post-transition process for dental offices and businesses, as well as in every aspect of starting a practice from scratch. Kim has a working knowledge of the challenges that are facing dentists today, and she is passionate about coaching her clients to achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. She is a certified Business Coach and holds the distinction of FAADOM through the American Association of Dental Office Managers.