My Boss is the Best! I Love my Work!


Building a Happy Dental Team

There is a serious conundrum in every dentist’s work life: 99% of your training was clinical dentistry when in reality you spend more than 50% of your time focused on interacting with employees and patients.  There was no training for that, was there?  Such topics as, “How to Develop Productive and Efficient Employees” wasn’t on your curriculum, I bet?  Even if you were fortunate enough to have received a bit of training in management, our “new” economy and workforce makes it useless.  Even ten years ago what made you the best boss in town is now different.

So what is it your employees want from you as their dentist, boss, and leader? It’s not just more money. Nowadays a bigger paycheck, alone, will not retain your high performing employees.  So what keeps those high performing employees motivated, productive, and in your practice?  What drives them to tell everyone you are the best boss for whom they have ever worked?  According to employee based research projects, Human Resource data, and my 30+ years of work with dental teams, here are the top five things you must do to be the “Best Boss in Town.”

  1. Walk-Your-Talk:  Be careful what you say.  Your employees are listening to every word and watching everything you do. If you set a standard in the office, you must always follow it. You are never exempt. If you said you are going to do something, you better do it, and do it soon, or their respect for you and their pride for working in your practice will be damaged.  Apathy, disengagement, and negativity will creep in and poison your workplace.
  1. Schedule Regular Communication: Your team needs frequent opportunities to be heard, to be asked their opinion, and to share ideas, suggestions, and information.  They need team communication and not “trickle-down communication” which is so destructive. Employees become engaged, energized, and more productive when they have team meetings and gatherings.Your Morning Huddle is a critical aspect of this communication.  You and your employees need this time together to set personal concerns aside and focus on a common goal:  making the workday as smooth, productive, and rewarding as possible. Your team wants, and needs, regularly scheduled monthly team meetings and an annual retreat. These not only offer a forum for communication but provide crucial team bonding.
  1. Set clear expectations, priorities and goals: Setting clear expectations with your employees from the very beginning can prevent damaging issues down the road. Such documents as your employee handbook, standard operating systems, and detailed job descriptions should create clarity about what you expect them to do, how you expect them to behave, and the results you expect them to produce.
  1. Establish accountability for ALL team members: Establishing goals and following key monitors hold everyone to the same standards. Review these monthly as a team. A dental practice has absolutely no room for under performers, attitude problems, or those who have a negative impact on the office culture.  Your team expects you to reward those who contribute to reaching goals and take action with those who don’t.  If you don’t fulfill this responsibility, in their eyes, you become the jerk, fool, or weakling.
  1. Show Appreciation: Show your employees they are appreciated…a simple “thank you,” a pat on the back, or “great job” provides critical acknowledgement and encouragement. Take time out of your schedule to host and join your team in birthday celebrations, Christmas gatherings, community service projects, training sessions, and annual retreats.  Take them to lunch occasionally, and at least once a year, hand-write them a note of appreciation.  Your rewards will multiply like fruit flies.

Employees are your greatest assets; they can literally make or break your practice. Being the boss that everyone wants to work for creates a healthy work culture and retains engaged employees. In return, this attracts the best-of-the-best employees who will transform your practice to the best-of-the-best dental practices.

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