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Happy Team

Want happier dental employees? Measure their performance

Dec. 29, 2022
How do performance evaluations lead to a better team? Because people who receive regular feedback and feel needed in their work environment often perform better on the job.

Editor's note: Sally McKenzie was a powerful voice in the dental industry until her passing in 2020. We're sharing this article in the spirit of having her high-quality and insightful work live on and continue inspiring readers. Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.

Keeping team members happy is key to both their success and yours. Happy employees are motivated to excel. They’re productive and find their jobs rewarding, which makes them more likely to remain loyal and do their part to move the practice forward.

When team members are not happy, it can cause serious damage to your practice. Unhappy employees are often anxious and unsure of themselves. They struggle throughout the day, and it shows in the way they interact with patients and coworkers. These stressed people often become involved in staff conflict and spend their off hours looking for another job.  

So, how can you develop happy employees who enjoy coming to work each day? You can implement a performance measurement system. Such a system will give team members the guidance they need to perform their best. They’ll have a better understanding of what their role is in the success of the practice and what you expect of them. With this direction, they’ll be able to excel.

Here are the workplace factors that are most important to your employees, all of which are achievable once you put performance measurements in place.

A say in office policy

Your team members want their voices to be heard and to know you value their opinions. Giving them some control over their work makes their jobs more satisfying and ultimately benefits the practice. After all, employees will be more committed to following through with the decisions you make if they’re directly involved with those decisions. When team members understand the important role they play in practice success, they’ll feel more connected to the practice.

An opportunity for growth

Team members need the freedom to constructively channel their intelligence. Without it, they’ll feel stuck. They’ll become bored with their jobs and search for something more fulfilling. That’s why it’s so important to give team members more responsibility. When you do, their self-worth increases and they have more pride in their work.

Interested in more from Sally McKenzie?

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These patients are hurting your practice

Empower team members to really take ownership of their systems. Challenge them with finding ways to make tasks more efficient and to strengthen the systems they’re accountable for. You also should show team members you value their insights. Ask them their thoughts about issues the practice is facing and make it clear they can come to you with any ideas or concerns they have. This sets the stage for employees to truly grow.

Recognition for individual accomplishments

Many dentists implement group bonus plans, rewarding employees equally when goals are accomplished. The problem is, these plans assume everyone puts in the same amount of effort to meet every goal, and this just isn’t true. Some team members may not have been involved with the success at all, yet they receive the same bonus as those who did the work, which could lead to resentment.

To avoid this scenario, I suggest you base bonuses on individual performance. Team members will then know exactly what they need to do to earn a bonus, motivating them to meet their individual goals, which should be aligned with practice goals.

The opportunity to make contributions that matter

Most employees want to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Knowing their efforts are helping move the practice forward makes their job more rewarding and gives them a reason to perform at their best. It also keeps employees from getting bored and becoming lackadaisical with their work.  

How can you keep team members fully engaged? Allow them to shine. Delegate tasks to your clinical team as state laws allow and give your business employees more responsibilities. Use their talents to the fullest and trust them to do what you hired them to do. You’ll not only reduce your workload, which will lower your stress level and give you more time to focus on patients, you’ll also make your team members’ jobs more rewarding.

Be part of a cohesive team

If staff conflict starts brewing, it’s sure to lead to unhappy employees. Team members become more focused on whatever the problem is rather than on providing stellar customer service and top-notch patient care. Negativity takes over and you lose patients to practices that have a more positive environment and upbeat team.

One of the best ways to avoid staff conflict is to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. If all team members understand who’s responsible for what, there’s no confusion or finger pointing when tasks are not done. They can work in harmony as a cohesive team. Detailed job descriptions and performance measurements are critical to making that happen.  

Happy employees help build successful practices. If you offer proper guidance through performance measurements, you’ll find your team members are happy, productive, and motivated to excel.

Editor's note: Originally posted in 2020 and updated regularly