Team motivation and the adoption of new technology

The adoption of new dental technology becomes a matter of morale in a team environment.

It seems that every other month comes with some sort of new innovation for the modern dental practice. Whether in patient care, office management, communications, or billing, these technologies and the investments we make in them can have drastic impacts on our daily operations—both positive and negative. In past articles, I have discussed how to determine whether a new technology is right for a practice, how to manage proper adoption to enhance the positives, and how to handle upkeep and maintenance to reduce the negatives.

Team motivation is often one of the wild cards when it comes to adopting a new technology, and it should be considered and addressed at every step of the process. The unique combinations of personalities that make up our teams are the linchpins of our practices. We rely on every member of the team when it comes to the successful adoption of a new technology, and with no two practices having identical staff, it falls on us to know our teams and understand their motivations, technological literacy levels, and concerns before, during, and after introducing large-scale changes.

In essence, the adoption of new technology becomes a matter of morale in a team environment. Like any major change, some personalities may resist new additions. Others may embrace changes and have entirely positive reactions. Both of these extremes can trickle into every aspect of the practice and affect the quality of the work environment.

Our goal, then, is to minimize the negatives and enhance the positives. This requires understanding the members of our teams and focusing on a few major issues.

We first address team members who may be unmotivated by new technologies. Whether resistant to change or possessing low technological literacy, these team members can be intimidated by a new innovation. They can struggle to adapt. This can result in mounting stress, lowered morale, and a reduced quality of work in other areas. Proper preparation is key to keeping these members comfortable. New technologies can come out quickly and be overwhelming, so communicating the purpose of incoming changes well before their arrival can mitigate some of the worry. Providing learning materials can also help.

Some team members adapt well to new technologies. They will approach these innovations with excitement and passion, adjusting to changes in record time. It is important to play to their strengths and encourage them whenever possible.

Personalities who embrace new technologies can help keep morale up for others. They are the greatest champions in the battle of team motivation. These resident experts can become passionate about preferences and skills. They can carry the burden of the adoption for other, less tech-savvy team members, provide stress relief should technical issues arise, and serve as beacons for positive morale.

By focusing on providing early warning and support for those who may be stressed by new technologies, we can help ease their transition into the adoption process. Then, by encouraging team members who adjust well, the process can continue in a positive way. It may be impossible for some team members to be excited or fully accepting of a new technology. As unfortunate as that may be, energy would be wasted trying to artificially inflate something that may never get off of the ground. Instead, by understanding the different personalities in any given team, we can play to those who can elevate others and keep motivation and morale afloat through the process of adopting a new technology.

Gary Kaye, DDS, FAGD, is the founder of the New York Center for Digital Dentistry and has practiced comprehensive dentistry in New York City since 1993. He graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, where he received awards in endodontics, prosthodontics, and geriatric dentistry. Dr. Kaye provides consulting services to dentists and dental manufacturers. He lectures on topics including ceramics, occlusion, and digital dentistry. He is on the guest faculty of Planmeca University in Dallas, Texas.

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