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Why you should celebrate dental holidays with your staff

Sept. 20, 2022
From Office Manager Appreciation Month to Dentist's Day, there are many opportunities to celebrate in ways big and small. Here's why you should—and how those acknowledgments contribute to the bigger picture of your office culture.

It seems we are being bombarded by so much negative news, especially over the past few years. At our practice we have created a “home away from home” company culture—a place where our entire team feels needed, appreciated, supported, and heard. For example, I have an open-door policy, which means my door is literally open all the time to invite the team to stop in and share what’s on their mind, whether a concern or compliment. For me, having my door open enables me to “hear the day,” including the sounds of laughter and kudos from patients.

A practice culture doesn’t just happen. It must be purposefully created—and maintained—because the culture of a practice affects our team and, subsequently, our patients. Now more than ever, we want that culture to include as much positivity as possible.

Big celebrations

In September, CareCredit and American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) are recognizing Office Manager Appreciation Month (OMAM), and in our practice, that’s a big celebration. I want to thank CareCredit and AADOM for throwing us this party and show them a little appreciation. I’m a diplomate of AADOM and have gotten so much out of being a member, both professionally and personally. And I am an office manager who loves CareCredit and especially the custom-link QR code that patients can just scan and go to a site where they learn all about financing, and they can prequalify without impacting their credit bureau score. If you don’t have a custom link and you’d like to save some time and give patients a great experience, you really should try it.

Last year, my team had a special surprise waiting for me each and every week. And even though I was singled out as the office manager/administrator, the celebration was a positive event for the entire team. Even some of our patients joined in the festivities.

Other dental holidays to put on your calendar include:

  • Dental Assistant Recognition Week (first week in March)
  • Dentist's Day (March 6)
  • Dental Hygienist Appreciation Week (second week in April)
  • World Smile Day (first Friday in October)

Holidays give us an opportunity to celebrate big, as do major life events such as team birthdays, weddings, and pregnancies. You could also recognize employees’ anniversary days, which are the days the practice became better and stronger because they joined the team. Yes, it takes time to make these celebrations special, but the benefit of making each team member feel special is well worth the effort.

Small celebrations

Celebrating the small daily “wins” brings another level of positivity into the practice culture. The key here is to be constantly looking for these wins because it’s much easier to see the things that go wrong during the day. The celebration is a lot smaller too—no cake or balloons; just positive affirmation for a job well done. Here are just a few small wins that we like to celebrate:

  • A full schedule and no cancellations
  • New patients!
  • Hitting or exceeding our production goal
  • Closing a significant case
  • Helping a patient who needed care by overcoming barriers (such as recommending the CareCredit credit card if cost is a concern)
  • A happy, satisfied patient

Just acknowledging when a team member goes a step beyond to do the right thing for the practice or patient can be powerful. And complimenting a job well done both privately and in front of the team (when appropriate) can be even more empowering.

Self-celebrations

Last, but certainly not least, is teaching everyone to self-celebrate. Recognition from others contributes to the practice culture, but when all team members—including the doctors—take the time to celebrate a job they did particularly well that others may not even notice, it gives everyone constant clarity that they are important to the team and the success of the practice. When the front desk turns a cancellation call back into a kept appointment, they should self-celebrate. When the dentist turns a patient’s fear into a healthy smile, they should self-celebrate. And sometimes, when a team member is simply able to make it to work on time because the morning went sideways on them, they should self-celebrate. As a practice leader, it makes me happy to hear my team’s response when I ask, “What did you self-celebrate today?”

Big, small, and self-celebrations help create a culture of positivity. And the more positivity in the practice, the less time there is for negativity, gossip, and other nonproductive activities. Together as a team we can accentuate the positive and drown out the rest of the negative noise.  

Editor's note: This article appeared in the September 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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