Team selection

Jan. 1, 2008
Finding the right group of players is one of the greatest ongoing challenges for a dentist.

by Bill Blatchford

Finding the right group of players is one of the greatest ongoing challenges for a dentist. In America, we are at full employment, which means we are in competition for the few great ones. Huge responses from help wanted ads are events of the past. There is not a great number of people who are actively looking for work. All who want and are able to work now have a job.

I hear dentists say, “She/he was the best who applied, and we are just making do.” How can you provide excellence for your patients knowing you are working just below average? Where is the enthusiasm, curiosity, and commitment?

Working in our favor is another factor I call the “death of loyalty.” Americans shift careers nearly every seven years, and companies even faster. Thus, there is hope that you will find the magic team members who want a new challenge and enjoy working with people. They are already employed, so you must always be looking for them.

Where do you look, and for whom are you looking? Furthermore, why would they be looking for you? Finding the right team is a leadership decision. It is a selection process, not a training process. Are you prepared to lead with integrity and a positive attitude? Have you done your homework to discover your own strengths and develop your life mission? Has that been communicated clearly to your team? Is passion present so your team can catch the inescapable feeling that they are truly making a difference? It is up to you.

Work on yourself first because when you are interviewing great candidates, they are evaluating you at the same time to see if your office is the right place for them. What do you exhibit that makes you different? Does your practice offer a place where they can flourish and bloom?

What impression does your office make? Is it average, or does it need upgrading? Do you have extra touches in place that attract good patients as well as team members? Do you have excellent systems that allow even an average person to excel? Is everyone cross-trained from start to finish in working with guests? Does your assistant enter treatment, collect funds, issue a statement, schedule, and do all of the spa amenities plus?

The right people are looking for a challenge. The average person is looking for an average office where one can escape accountability. The right person wants to grow and learn new skills, like sales skills. The average person would say, “I don’t do sales.”

One of my mentors has been Les Schwab, the largest independent tire dealer in America, with 400 stores in the West and 5,000 team members who literally run to your car to help you. I asked him, “What is your training process to have team members respond with such continued enthusiasm?” Les Schwab laughed and said, “You can’t train them. You select them. Their training comes from their parents.”

According to Jim Rohn of Leading An Inspired Life: Don’t send your ducks to eagle school, because it won’t work. Good people are found, not changed. They can change themselves, but you can’t change them. If you want motivated, good people, you need to find them.

If you have leadership, passion, systems, and accountability in place, the right person will love it. Finding that right person is a constant. Be out there observing people and mixing. You will not find the right person by having a daily lunch in your staff room. Decide what qualities you want exhibited in team members, qualities they generally learn from their parents. If you want your team to be accountable, what does that mean? Will you as the leader still feel you need to micromanage?

Look for people who are comfortable being with others, curious in conversation, and who have a willingness to be uncomfortable to reach their goals. You want them to be motivated by sharing in the profits and willing to work hard when you work.

It is a selection process rather than a training process. If team members have curiosity, passion, integrity, and a spirit to make a difference, the training will be easy. Recognize people have to be born with or want to learn these skills. You cannot turn a duck into an eagle. They must want it for themselves. Find those who want it.

Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit for more information.

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