Building a dynamic team

March 1, 2013
Finding the right team for the practice can seem as complicated and difficult as resolving a quadratic equation; however, it doesn't need to be that complicated.

By Lois Banta

Finding the right team for the practice can seem as complicated and difficult as resolving a quadratic equation; however, it doesn't need to be that complicated. Many times I've heard dentists say, "I went to dental school to learn how to be a dentist. I learned a few years after dental school that I also needed to know how to run a successful business."

Hiring and training a cohesive team takes time, energy, and focus. It does not have to be complicated. Simple systems and protocols are what are needed to build a dynamic team. Here are the steps every practice should take in recruiting quality team members:

1. Write a compelling ad. In recruiting the right team member for the practice, the ad must be written to attract the right person. "Help Wanted" is not going to attract a dynamic person. Describe the qualities you're looking for when recruiting an employee for the practice.

2. Prescreen the applicants. Have a list of questions to ask once a prospective applicant responds. This should be a list of questions that help determine if the applicant should complete an employment application. Here are some sample questions:

a. What attracted you to this ad?
b. How do you feel about our hours of business?
c. What other information about yourself would help me make a decision to interview you?
d. What questions can I answer for you about our office/this position?
e. The hours for this position are ______. Will that fit with what you're looking for?
f. What do you like most about your current position?
g. Ideally, what are you looking for in your next position?

3. Interview with a purpose in mind. Invite applicants to come into the office to complete the application in person. This allows you to observe how applicants dress and behave. Did they dress professionally? Are they "well-groomed" (hair, make-up, clothing)? Prepare a list of interview questions specifically designed to the position being offered. Ask clinical questions for clinical teams and nonclinical questions for administrative positions. Pay close attention to how the questions are answered as well as what details the applicant provides. Notice body language, and how they refer to a previous employer … positively or negatively.

4. Involve the team. The team is a crucial element during hiring. Invite the applicant to go to lunch with the team. Team members will offer good feedback on the personality of the applicant.

5. Design detailed job descriptions. I use Bent Ericksen and Associates' HR director ( for developing a good employee manual. This system comes with all the forms necessary for hiring, training, etc., plus the company has an array of detailed job descriptions that can be customized to meet the needs of a practice. Employment compliance is crucial to establishing and maintaining a dynamic team.

6. Hire for attitude and train for excellence. Proper training offers the best opportunity for success in maintaining a dynamic team. But a positive "can do" attitude will maintain the success of the team. You can train skill but you cannot train attitude. Training should be done during the first 90 days of orientation. The training should be clearly spelled out in writing with a detailed plan on assessing skills throughout the training period. There should be "mile markers" established to determine level of skill. For example, if the new employee is using the software system, set up online training and "test" the new hire on knowledge before moving on to the next level.

7. Hold annual performance reviews separately from salary reviews. Performance reviews should be done annually with a dedicated date chosen on the calendar. Salary reviews should be no longer than 15 minutes and be informational regarding what is available for a salary increase. Employees need to achieve all requirements to receive the increase. An amount of 25% of available increase is offered for each category reached -- no unexcused absences, participated in all team meetings, attended recommended continuing education, and maintained a positive attitude throughout the year.

8. Remember to have good, professional fun. Inspect what is expected of the team. Clearly communicate desired outcomes.

Lois Banta is CEO and founder of Banta Consulting, established in 2000. Banta is also the owner and CEO of the Speaking Consulting Network. Banta Consulting specializes in dental practice management. To contact Banta for a personal consultation or to invite her to speak to your organization, call (816) 847-2055, email [email protected], or visit

More DE Articles
Past DE Issues