Team dynamics have a profound impact on practice success. If your team is miserable, you’re probably going to be miserable, too.
Over the years, I’ve met more than a few dentists who had an adversarial relationship with their staff. Some doctors resent the whole idea of having a team, and that resentment shines through in their interactions with staff members, many of whom eventually leave. Those who stay are disgruntled, which makes the dentist resent them even more. Eventually, everyone in the practice gets pulled into an endless vortex of negativity.
Fortunately, most dental practices don’t suffer from that kind of toxic culture. But, on the other hand, many dental teams aren’t operating at optimal levels either.
There are always opportunities to improve the environment in your practice. What can you do as the practice leader to build a better team and a better workplace? Here are some suggestions:
1) Listen More
Your team is largely running the practice. They see what’s working and what can be improved upon. Their ideas can be the catalysts for positive change. Not every suggestion is going to be a home run, but listening to their input shows that you value their opinions. People are more engaged in their jobs when they believe they can make a difference.
2) Empower Your Team
If a team member has a suggestion for improving the practice and it’s a project that you agree with, give the employee the authority to make it happen. Saying “yes” is a powerful tool for gaining “buy-in” from staff members. Obviously, you can’t say “yes” to every idea, but when you can, you should.
3) Share the Vision
Do you have a practice vision? It’s a written document that is your projection of where the practice will be in 3–5 years. If you have one, share it with the team. This will inspire them to move the practice forward and achieve challenging goals. It also helps turn a group of individuals into a cohesive team. If you don’t have a practice vision, it’s time to create one.
4) Surprise Them
Predictability can be good. Everybody knows what to expect and things run smoothly. Yet if the days are too similar, people can become bored. Lead the fight against complacency by surprising your team every now and then. Once a quarter, take your team out to lunch… throw a party… hand out gift cards to a local eatery. Do something out of the ordinary that makes working in your practice a little more fun.
Building a good team is difficult, but keeping them together is even harder. Use these four steps to engage, empower, inspire and surprise your staff!
New Seminar: Learn more team-building strategies at Dr. Levin’s upcoming seminar “The Mid-Career Plateau: How to Avoid It, Overcome It, Get Out of It” on Oct. 6 in Indianapolis.
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