Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 05 Support 1

5 steps to creating a stronger dental team

May 2, 2016
While you may have terrific dental team members, how can you make them even stronger? A great dental team helps the practice thrive. Here are some tips to developing a consistently strong team.

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.

Your team is made up of hardworking professionals who want to help you grow your practice. You appreciate everything they do and know you’d be lost without them, but you also know there’s room for improvement. Simply put, your team isn’t as strong as it could be and it’s holding your practice back.

This is the case in many of the offices I’ve visited through the years. The dental teams are made up of well-intentioned, smart people, but somehow they’re just not getting the job done the best they could. It’s a frustrating situation but one you can turn around.

Surrounding yourself with a strong team is key to your practice’s success. Follow these tips and you’ll have the support you need to create a thriving dental practice.

1. Embrace your leadership role

Your team members aren’t mind readers. They need guidance from you, their practice CEO, to succeed. This starts with detailed job descriptions. If you don’t have them, now might be the time to change that.

Job descriptions make your expectations clear by outlining exactly what each role entails, the necessary skill sets, and how performances will be measured. I recommend you sit down with team members to create their job descriptions. This will give them more ownership of their role and will show them how much you value their input.

It’s also important to provide continual feedback. Let team members know that you notice when they do something right, and take them aside when you see them doing something wrong to talk about how they can improve. Conduct performance reviews and set personal goals that align with practice goals. This will keep team members focused on doing their part to help the practice meet its full potential.

2. Provide detailed training

No matter how talented your team members are or how long they worked at another dental office before you brought them on board, you have to provide them with proper training if you want them to excel. This seems like a no-brainer, but often dentists don’t want to spend the time or money on training because they don’t think it’s worth it. Trust me, it is.

When staff members aren’t properly trained. it does nothing but bring the practice down, creating unnecessary frustration and leading to inefficiencies. Properly trained team members are happier, more productive, and more confident in their ability to perform their job, and that will lead to a healthier bottom line.

3. Don’t ignore staff conflict

As much as you probably don’t want to hear this, conflict is inevitable. You simply can’t avoid it. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cause major problems in your practice. If you address conflict right away, it can actually lead to positive change. But ignoring it will leave you with unhappy team members who are more focused on gossiping about each other than serving your patients. Patients will notice this, and the tension in your office might be enough to send them to the practice down the street.

Let team members know they can come to you with problems. When conflict arises, work with everyone involved to find a solution. This will ensure it doesn’t boil out of control and cause major damage to your practice.

4. Hire the right people

Most dentists hate the thought of hiring new employees, which is why many hire the first person who seems like a good fit. Unfortunately this often leads to disaster. To avoid a costly bad hire, I suggest you put a process in place and follow it. This includes properly reviewing resumes, conducting phone screenings, and asking the right questions during face-to-face interviews. The goal is to find the best person for the job, not to get it over with as quickly as possible.

5. Don’t give out raises “just because”

I know you want to keep your team members happy, but it’s important to only give out raises when they’re earned, not just because another year has gone by or because your assistant could use the extra money. If you give out raises “just because,” your team members will have no motivation to improve their performance. It means they get more money while practice production and revenues stay the same.

From the beginning, make sure team members understand how raises can be earned and under what circumstances they’ll be discussed. This will keep them motivated to excel in their roles as they help move the practice toward success and profitability.