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The right team elevates your dental practice

March 11, 2022
An outstanding team leads to an outstanding practice. But first you must find that team, then you must maintain their success. How do you successfully keep your "A" team?

It was the best of times for Diamond Dental. Inside its bright and pleasant office, a tight-knit staff managed the most popular practice in town. Each patient was warmly welcomed. No question went unanswered, and no problem went unsolved. Diamond Dental had a talented dentist, but her greatest secret was knowing how to inspire her team. Together, they delivered a level of service no competitor could match. Referral after referral called or walked in.

Meanwhile, across town, it was the worst of times for Silver Smiles. As the city’s only dental office when it opened more than 30 years ago, it once boasted a long list of eager patients. As the area developed the last 20 years, however, that once enviable roster had dwindled to fewer than 30% of its former glory. The unhappy dentist blamed his staff. Not surprisingly, his staff members blamed him. Disenchanted, none of them stuck with the office for more than a year or two.

People make the difference

If you own a dental practice, you know which of these two businesses you want to emulate. Without question, having a steady, reliable team of dedicated employees makes you a standout success. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: a poor functioning team weighs heavily on the bottom line and can wreak irreparable harm on your business.

When you’re in the people business—and every successful dentist is—then people form the backbone of your livelihood. This invaluable group not only includes your client base, but more importantly, your staff. For most entrepreneurs, providing value for customers is an innate part of their mission—advise them, support them, keep them happy, and you keep them coming back. The most successful entrepreneurs realize the importance of upholding these same pillars for their employees, or rather, their internal customers.

To put things in perspective, you’re only as good as your team. For your practice to thrive, you have no choice but to rely on proficient team members. Cultivate a team of experts who cooperate with one another and who get along with you, and your business will become unstoppable.

Also by Mark Murphy

Achieving your goals now instead of later

As a dentist, you’re not only adept at observing the health of your patients, you’re also aware of the overall health of your business. You know when something is amiss. And this may come as a shock to you, but your employees also notice when something is amiss. When they sense trouble, no opportunity for growth, or no room for pay raises, they’ll leave. To avoid an exodus, you must be transparent with them. Let them know where the business is heading and inform them of the critical role each plays in its success. When your employees see the big picture and understand the significance of their contribution, they’ll have a desire to give you their all.

Finding and keeping the “A” people

Good help may indeed be hard to find, but when you know what you’re looking for in an “A” employee, you’re more likely to identify and bring them into the fold. You need people who are intelligent, with great people skills and a high degree of common sense. In a perfect world, everybody would exhibit these traits. But, in reality it’s a cutthroat race to find them, hire them, and keep them. Therefore, whenever you happen upon one of these wonderful rarities, realize their potential significance to your success.  

If you’ve hired someone who isn’t quite right, work with them and offer encouragement for a brief stretch of time. Quite often, when they’re not right for the job, they choose to leave. In other instances, you may have to ask them to leave. Know that there are limits to how long you should tolerate poor performance. Don’t let poor performers stick around too long. This isn’t fair to the people who are doing well. The last thing you want to do is hurt morale by making the top performers pick up the slack of the underachievers.

Perhaps you want to elevate your employees to new heights. Foster an environment where employees know they can engage one-on-one with you to add value to the business. Some people might have well-meaning intentions. They’re giving it their all, but their output is askew. A direct conversation can take all the mystery out of this. Get them to channel their energy toward a more important goal and your entire operation will become more efficient.   

Also, when someone wants to enhance their career within your business, they know they can come to you for guidance. Naturally, you want to encourage them to keep developing. No matter how proficient someone becomes, there’s always another level. Instill that mantra and all of you will grow together. A small investment in training and development can yield spectacular returns.

The time will come when your star employees ask for pay increases or bonuses. Be crystal clear with your criteria, and such encounters will turn into wonderful opportunities. If you’re straightforward, your employees will rise to the occasion and know exactly what’s expected of them. They need to know how their performance will be judged and rewarded.

While every business has a boss running the show, within that show is a team of essential performers, each in charge of their own destiny. When their vision aligns with yours and they see opportunities where you see opportunities, everyone thrives. Whether it’s the best of times or worst of times for your business depends largely on ensuring the success and continual growth of your people. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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