Meditation. Breathing exercises. When you’re having a busy day in a busy practice, it’s hard to find a moment to catch your breath, let alone do exercises. Dental offices are like mini emergency rooms. The team works hard to take care of people and to alleviate discomfort and fear. Even though there’s a schedule, at the end of the day, it rarely looks like it did when the practice doors opened. It’s not surprising that an ADA 2021 report on dentist well-being found that the majority of dentists reported moderate or severe stress at work.1 And when the dentist is stressed, it can impact the team.
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So, what is the anecdote to anxiety and stress? There are many, but I believe that celebrating the wins and recognizing a job well done are two of the most powerful. And there’s never been a better time than now, during CareCredit’s Office Manager Appreciation Month festivities.
For all they do
A doctor once said to me when his office manager (OM) left to take a new position at a different practice, “You don’t know how much they do until they’re not here to do it.” In some ways that’s a compliment, but it’s also recognition that OMs and others on the team don’t complain a lot; they just take care of business. But they may not be as happy as you think they are. Why? Because most people need to feel appreciated. Here are a few ways to not only celebrate #AwesomeOMs this month, but to purposefully incorporate recognition into your routine throughout the year.
Make it public. Public recognition can be especially rewarding, and also motivating for the rest of the team. Morning huddles, all-team meetings, and even a quick get-together at the end of the day to recognize who did an exceptional job are all perfect opportunities to acknowledge people. Think about ending each meeting with two minutes of kudos.
Make it permanent. Gift cards and small bonuses are nice, but not always the most powerful. I still have a handwritten note from a former boss in my desk drawer. Consider small, fun gifts that serve as a constant reminder to the recipient that they are valued, appreciated, and needed.
Make it personal. Taking an exceptional team member or #AwesomeOM to lunch is very powerful. I have a doctor who implemented “Bites with the Boss,” and he has found that personally investing in a team member with an off-site lunch is very much appreciated. It gives him time to get to know that team member and make them feel valued, seen, heard, and celebrated.
Make it part of the process. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done. That’s why recognition, celebration, and kudos need to be part of the practice’s processes. Office Manager Appreciation Month, work anniversaries, birthdays, and other life events need to be put on a calendar.
Keep your team happy
In addition to decreasing stress and improving morale, recognition and celebration can enhance team retention. Saying thank-you can be the most powerful thing you say to your team. So, I’d like to extend my appreciation to all the #AwesomeOMs I’ve had the pleasure of working with and those who lean into delivering great patient care every day. Happy Office Manager Appreciation Month!
CareCredit is a recent financial supporter of Dental Economics. View full disclosure at dentaleconomics.com/carecredit.
This article appeared in the September 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
1. 2021 Dentist Well-Being Survey Report. American Dental Association. 2022. https://ebusiness.ada.org/Assets/docs/101863.pdf