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Matching dental team members to your values

Dec. 15, 2023
Getting the right team in place will guide your team to success. This involves some time and effort that is well worth it.

No one can be in two places at once. I bring up this conundrum because solving it would seemingly fix most of your problems. You could handle your own patient scheduling and accounting, as well as practice dentistry all day. 

I know myself and my capabilities, and when I set out to do something, it invariably gets done just the way I like it. The challenge? I’ve only got one body, and on any given day, I have a hundred and one things that need to get done and done well. I’m hardly unique. Everyone understands this pesky impediment and reckons with it the best they can.

I want to reveal my secret for getting around this limitation, and no, it doesn’t involve advanced computer programming or AI technology. On the contrary, it’s much simpler than you might believe. You see, having a multitude of things done your way has less to do with you and your capabilities and more to do with your core values. Once you’ve identified the heart of what you’ve set out to do and why, then you can lead a cohort that will effectively carry out your mission.

If you’re struggling in this arena, don’t feel bad. I struggled for more than a decade to find a suitable team to accomplish what I had set out to do, which was to be a top financial advisor serving a wide range of clients from coast to coast. It took reading a book called Traction by entrepreneurial guru Gino Wickman for it to really click. This short work packs a punch, outlining best practices for goal setting, meetings, and accountability. The piece of wisdom that got me right away revolved around employees: “Who is doing the work, and do they get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it well?”1 To put it bluntly, not everyone you meet is a match to your vision. If you’ve ever put out a help wanted ad, you know what I mean.

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Getting a good team in place

Assembling your team can be slow-going at first. Without an established reputation, you might feel like you’re begging people to work for you. However, you can’t be desperate. Know your core values, and don’t compromise. Anyone who seeks a job with me must meet with me personally to go over each one of my core values.

Does the person have the wherewithal to create a wow experience? Can they bring more value than our competition by developing solutions specifically tailored to the wishes and dreams of our diverse clientele? Do they have it within themselves to never say “no” to a fellow team member? Are they willing to constantly strive for improvement on a never-ending quest for greatness?

While enumerating my company’s core values with each job candidate, I vet them by watching how they react to each demand. If they roll their eyes, it’s an obvious no-go. If they don’t exhibit any spark or enthusiasm, I know they won’t fit the bill. However, anyone who lights up at what I’m asking understands something truly important: since I’m requiring this of them, they can rest assured that they’re going to receive the same consideration from me and my staff. Everyone I hire does.

As a result, we all excel when we come to work. We’re excited to be there. We know our individual goals and we smash them. When we break records, I “kidnap” my staff (they come willingly) off to the mall and pass around a pillowcase with mystery envelopes filled with cash that they must spend completely on themselves in an afternoon. The only requirement is an afterparty featuring show and tell where everyone reveals their treasures. My company no longer relies on help wanted ads. When there’s an opening, we have a long list of candidates eager to fill it.

Word travels fast when you run a business that’s worth working for. You want your employees to be so jazzed about coming to work that they tell their friends and family. When you’ve really got it going on, then your employees do the recruiting for you. There’s no shortage of people willing to go above and beyond when you know their talent and they know they’ll be rewarded for it.

You set the standard

You have to be the one to set the standard. It’s your business. Once you know you’ve hired good employees, they’ll follow your lead. That’s a double-edged sword, by the way. Even great employees will turn on you if you’re not great to them. You can’t expect them to take care of your patients if you don’t take care of your employees. And if you happen to commit the cardinal sin of not caring properly for your patients, then there’s absolutely nothing your employees can do to save you.

I make sure that all my job candidates know immediately that if they don’t come to work prepared to do their job, they’re going to feel highly uncomfortable. There’s always room for growth, but we have zero tolerance for laziness. My team works way too hard to have to pick up the slack of even one rotten apple. Imagine if that one rotten apple were a manager. What would that do to morale?

Of course, I learned that I couldn’t be in two places at once, but I also learned that I couldn’t rest until I made certain that all my leaders espoused my core beliefs. There is no other workaround. An effective organization has too many moving parts for you to pull all the levers and push all the buttons yourself. Take the time to ensure that the people you put in place aren’t there solely to collect a paycheck.

Your carefully honed principles are nonnegotiable, and they safeguard every stakeholder throughout your organization, from the managers to the employees to the patients you all serve. Know your core values, practice them, spread them, and watch your practice flourish.

Authors' note: Successful businesses employ the right people, providing them with the right tools and training in the process. If you would like more information on how to best grow your team, increasing profitability in the process, please call us at (973) 422-9140 or email at [email protected]. Regardless of where you are in the process, we’ll gladly provide you crucial insight on how to enhance the effectiveness of your practice.


  1. Wickman G. Traction. 2012. BenBella Books.

Mark B. Murphy, CEO of Northeast Private Client Group, is an accomplished author, speaker, and motivator who's revolutionizing the financial planning and wealth management industry. He helps entrepreneurs achieve multigenerational wealth through personalized strategies, leveraging his strategic planning and financial engineering expertise. Forbes has ranked him as the number one financial security professional in New Jersey and number 15 nationwide. Additionally, his book, The Ultimate Investment, is a number one bestseller and new release on Amazon.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the December 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.