Whether you’re a dentist mostly on your own looking to build a great team, or you already have a full complement of staff and are looking to get everybody on the same page, this article is for you! This will help you put together a dental team you can trust to run the business like a well-oiled machine while you do dentistry.
As a Qualifications Executive at MGE, I’ve talked to many dentists with which one of their main concerns is having a solid dental team that is competent and works well together. So, I thought I’d put together a few of my top dental teambuilding tips.
Before I get started, I wanted to point out our free seminar, How to Build Your Dental Dream Team Seminar, which can greatly help you create the team you’ve always wanted. For upcoming dates and locations, click here. We also have our online training platform, DDS Success, which currently has over 220 lessons and over 27 hours of content to get your entire team trained in the comfort of your office! You can see first-hand what it looks like by scheduling a free demo.
Alright, without further ado, here are my tips! Enjoy!
Have staff help each other
As soon as you notice this happening, pull your team aside. Talk to them and say something like, “alright guys, I noticed we’ve had __ cancellations so far today and I can tell some of you are having a bit of difficulty. What’s everyone running into? What do you need help with? Let’s see if we can still make our target by the end of the day!”
An example of what you shouldn’t say: “Where are all these cancellations coming from? You need to figure this out and fix this!”
The latter doesn’t really help anyone and doesn’t solve anything. And what’s worse? Your staff might start to feel uncomfortable around you and not feel willing to tell you if something isn’t going as planned.
The former allows your team to solve the problem amongst each other by finding out how other team members can help a specific situation another employee is running into. It also creates a game and gives that attitude that YOU and YOUR TEAM are in control of how the day goes. You can either decide it’s a bad day and it’ll continue being a bad day, or you can decide to turn it around and meet your target. Let’s do the latter!
Hire Great, Productive People
Having a great dental team and having them all work together as a well-oiled machine starts from the very beginning: when you hire staff.
(Related: Where to Find New Dental Office Staff)
I know as a doctor and business owner you’re very busy! Your main focus should be on dentistry, which means you need to make sure you hire high quality staff who can run the business side of dentistry while you’re doing surgeries. (We actually have a blog post all about how to hire and keep great dental office staff – check it out here!)
Don’t just quickly hire the first or second person you interview because you don’t have enough time. Unless you have an office manager who can interview and hire employees on your behalf (speaking of which, we definitely recommend hiring an Office Manager! You need someone to help you run the business while you’re doing dentistry, so they’re very important), you need to set time aside to interview, ask questions, look through their credentials and make sure that they’re not only a good fit for your office, but they’re someone you can trust to do the job you’re hiring them for.
Another thing I wanted to point out is to not feel discouraged if you have to fill certain positions multiple times. Positions, such as a receptionist, may not be filled with the same person for the rest of your time in your practice, and that’s okay. One thing I’d recommend when hiring for these positions is to ask the employee what their long-term goals are. Maybe they want to be a fitness instructor and own a gym one day. Or maybe they’ll want to move up to a higher position in your dental office, and if you’re growing consistently this can happen. Whatever it may be, consider having a conversation with them about aligning your goals – you’ll help them work towards theirs by providing support and they’ll help you by doing a great job and getting patients scheduled for their appointments.
Properly train your employees
A team that works well together is a team that is properly trained and competent at their job. Training your employees is a full-time job in itself! This is why we created our online training platform, DDS Success. We knew that some employees couldn’t travel for various reasons, we wanted to make a lot of the information we provide at our in-person seminars available online so all your staff can learn what we teach at MGE.
When you have a team that doesn’t really know what they’re doing, it can wreack havoc on your practice. The phones may not be getting answered properly, the schedule may have holes in it, and cancellations may be high if your employees aren’t properly trained. So, make it a priority to have you or your office manager train your employees so they are competent at what they do, or let us do most of the work for you with DDS Success, and all you’ll need to do is have someone oversee them to make sure they’re getting through the lessons!
(Related: 7 Steps to a Well Trained Staff)
People like to know whether they’re doing a good job or not. If the way you measure that is just how you feel about that employee or what other staff say about them…that’s not good for the owner or the employee.
At MGE, we teach our clients to manage by statistics. Each employee has a statistic in the office that they are responsible for. It may be Overall Production, Hygiene Visits, Collection Percentage, etc. When this is actually tracked on a graph, the employee and you can see if they’re doing their job well and helping the practice grow.
Obviously this is great for the owner/manager, because you can see if the employee is performing well, but it’s also good for the employee because they can see it too. They can work toward their own goals – their target is to increase the hygiene visits by 10% this month, and now they can work towards that proactively. They get the satisfaction of achieving their goals and a job well done, instead of just robotically doing the same duties every day and clocking in an out. And they can show their superior how they’re doing so there’s no question about where they stand.
(Related: Why Your Practice Needs to be Systems Based)
Hold Regular Staff Meetings
Ideally once a week, you should get the entire staff together for a meeting. Maybe take a long lunch break on Wednesdays and have food brought in, or at the end of the day on Thursday or Friday after all patients have left. Whenever you do it, ensure it’s a time when you won’t be interrupted and staff aren’t missing because they’re seeing patients or handling some other duties.
During this meeting, you can:
- Update everybody on your progress towards achieving your monthly and yearly goals, so they know where they stand and what needs to be done to make them.
- Each person or department can share what they are working on and any participation they need from the group.
- Address any issues or problems that have cropped up and new changes or policies that should be made.
- Take a bit of time to speak with the team about a specific subject. This may be education about certain procedures or dental conditions, so the staff better understands what the practice is doing and how to communicate with patients about dentistry. Or it can be about practice management topics or new systems you’d like to implement. On our online training platform, DDS Success, we have a whole series of Teambuilding Sessions – these videos are meant to be played during a staff meeting with a group exercise to motivate the team and help them be more efficient on their jobs.
These meetings are important because it’s hard to stay motivated toward achieving the doctor’s goals if you don’t know what they are, how you’re progressing toward them, what the rest of the team is doing and what coordination is needed in order to achieve them. It gets everybody on the same page and focused on the practice’s goals.
Dr. Greg Winteregg wrote an article outlining all the meetings you should be holding in your office, and you can read it here.
I hope these tips help! If you have any questions at all, call us at (800) 640-1140 or email me directly at JohnA@mgeonline.com. We’re always here to help! You can contact us for a free consultation, register for one of the seminars we hold around the US and Canada here, or sign up for our online training platform now at www.ddssuccess.com