Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 02 Compensation Discussion 1

Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: Dental team compensation, and perceptions

Feb. 23, 2016
What the dental team receives in compensation and what they perceive to receive are two different things. Perception matters. How can the practice owner have an effective conversation about compensation?

You’ve set your goals 2016, you created those goals with your dental team, and they all understand how they’ll contribute to those goals and the success of 2016. But wait! There’s more! As time goes on the team is tuning into the station WIIFM: What’s In It For Me? This is a legitimate question, because compensation is such an important topic in creating a culture of self-direction, inspiration, and growth.

I hear from team members who say they haven’t received an increase in over two years. This might be their perception, but they might have had an increase in benefits, they might have shared in a profit sharing plan, or even received a bonus. But their perception counts. So how do you effectively communicate with each team member about their actual compensation?

Professionals should be able to see that their contributions to the practice result in potential merit increases. Communication is always the obstacle that stands in the way of win-win compensation. Truthfully, it’s easier not to talk about things, which is why two years can fly by with no resolution. The downturn in the economy makes it even more difficult to discuss, when everyone feels the crunch because there wasn’t an increase in collections from the previous year.

An ideal compensation model should be in place. A well-designed model that team members understand makes it easy to approach the topic each year. The primary elements are:
1. Compensation must be competitive with what the market is paying
2. Compensation increases must come from increased profitability, otherwise it comes from the owner’s pocketbook.
3. Potential increases are earned when a team member demonstrates new skills and results.

Here are five steps to the salary review portion:
1. Ask for some an hour-long meeting with the employee.
2. Be prepared for this meeting.
a. Have a reconciled accounting of the person’s current pay including benefits. Note that per hour salary is significantly impacted by all the benefits received during the year.
b. Have the job description in hand.
c. Have notes from their previous conferences to review to what the employee agreed to contribute to the practice’s growth.
3. Discuss the success of the practice, which is represented by an increase in collections over the previous year.
4. What were the employee’s successes that contributed to the success of the practice? If the person contributed, reward him or her! This is where the across the board 3% cost of living raise falls short in motivating people.
5. Share your reconciled report of the person’s current compensation and what you’re prepared to offer for the coming year.

If you are interested in more information and seeing calculation and reconciliation forms, I invite you to read “Take Pride in What you Pay,” a four-module series on all aspects of staff compensation with an accompanying CD. Find program details and publications at

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Tuesday Tips from Pride Institute are provided weekly on their Facebook page as well as in this column in DentistryIQ. To ensure you don’t miss any of Pride Institute’s proven methods to take your practice to the next level, visit, and like them on Facebook.