Have you adopted the "team" mentality?

Oct. 1, 2003
This article was written upon my return from the 19th Annual Scientific Session of the AACD in Orlando, Fla. At the session, I discovered the most valuable piece of knowledge any dental office will ever need to know.

Cynthia "Snow" Christopher, RDH

This article was written upon my return from the 19th Annual Scientific Session of the AACD in Orlando, Fla. At the session, I discovered the most valuable piece of knowledge any dental office will ever need to know. This information was not gained from any lecture I attended; ironically, it was gained outside the lecture hall. This is not to say that I didn't gain a wealth of knowledge from wonderful speakers such as Dr. Paul Homoly. By the way, kudos to everyone who attended Dr. Homoly's course. I hope he "fired you up," and remember to practice the Speech of 25. If we get good at it, maybe we'll see each other on the lecture circuit soon!

As is customary when the day has ended, people mingle and discuss ideas and thoughts that were brought to them that day. This is the time to listen. You often will find the answers to many questions — the questions that no one ever seems to ask, and the questions that never seem to get addressed.

In the next session, my doctor, Dr. Matt Bynum, was giving a lecture called The Team Concept. It was on how to have a team vs. a staff. He provided insights on his shortcomings as the doctor and our shortcomings as a staff. He revealed the many unspoken thoughts and feelings that occurred within our group. Once we were able to recognize and acknowledge them, we lost the staff mentality and were able to form a true team. While helping him prepare for his lecture, we had no idea of the impact his lecture would have on us. His lecture seemed to put the "wheels" in motion for a lot of staff members and doctors in attendance. It had everyone asking that infamous question, "Do we really have a team, and, if not, how do we get it?"

I cannot express to you the number of times we were asked, "How do you all do it?" Or, "How do you make it seem so easy?" Or this one — "If you have it, why can't we get there?" Unfortunately, we could not provide a specific answer at the time. It seemed that you either had it within your core group of people, or you didn't. As the days progressed however, the answer slowly revealed itself to us. We realized that it's not whether you "have it" or not, but more along the lines of do you want it or not.

On the long ride home, we discussed the things that made our team so effective. How did we become a team that seems to function as a unit with so many different individuals in the equation? Most of us had worked with one another for several years, but what was it that kept us together and helped us adapt? We feel the answer to this is simple. To work as a team, everyone needs to be on the same "playing level." We all, including the doctor, have adopted this concept. We have learned to accept and treat one another as unique individuals. Each of us contributes something special, making us a dynamic team.

Sure, we all have different levels of education, but does having a specific degree give one the right to outshine the rest of the team? We truly feel that you must be able to remove this mentality not only in your work environment but also in your personal lives before you can succeed at anything as a team. We have adopted this philosophy in our personal lives and our work environment. Even though we come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, we sincerely admire and respect one another on and off of the playing field.

So for you doctors and staff members who asked us that most important question, "Do we really have a team, and if not, how do we get it?" take a step back and evaluate how you are approaching each person within your team. I can honestly say that there is no better place to be than with a group of people you truly want to be with. If you can say that about your dental team, it will be evident in all that you do. You can and will succeed at many things if you just work together as one unit with mutual respect. Our team can attest to this. For us, there is no place we would rather be than together. It must show, because of the overwhelming number of people who asked us, "How do you all do it?"

I can tell you that becoming a team is within your reach if you truly want it. Stop segregating people with a "degree" mentality and start treating one other on a person-to-person basis — where we are all equals. Without this concept, someone will always be walking in someone else's shadow; and being in the dark is not anyone's favorite place to be. Instead, let the light shine on every member of your team!

Cynthia "Snow" Christopher, RDH, is a practicing dental hygienist of 12 years. She works with Drs. Matt and Ann Bynum. The practice is an insurance-free family dental practice in a suburb of Greenville, S.C. She will be lecturing with Dr. Matt Bynum and her dynamic team members at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies on Achieving Extreme Success. She can be reached by phone at (864) 297-5585 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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