Managing Your Team For Productivity
It’s been said countless times that there’s no “i” in team, but this is especially true in a dental practice, which simply could not run without a solid team in place.
Despite that, many dentists put too many tasks on their shoulders. They try to do everything: clinical care, team leadership, operations management, marketing team, and more. If you’re guilty of that, raise your hand. (I’ll keep my hand down and just tell you that I’ve been guilty of trying to do too much myself because I need both hands to type.)
We all know it’s not possible over the long term to do everything ourselves, way too many of us still do so. Imagine a single dentist trying to do all of the work your staff does, from answering the phone and managing the office to conducting hygiene and coordinating patient care.
And we all know that we can’t do our best work when we’re spread too thin and doing tasks we’re not naturally gifted at performing. Patient satisfaction is bound to dive. And having high patient satisfaction is what makes a successful dental practice.
At my practice, I learned the hard way that managing a team takes three key focuses.
1. Clarifying Expectations from the Start
When it comes to hiring and managing team members, start by focusing on work ethic and experience working well with others than specific skills they may have in the present. After all, you can train for skills way easier than you can train for personality, which is virtually impossible.
This means you must be open and upfront during the recruiting process about what’s expected of them. Don’t try to sell your practice to a candidate. Instead, tell them what you expect from team members and how that helps everyone succeed. Ask them specific questions about how they performed in the past in situations they’ll experience in your practice. Give them hypothetical situations and ask them how they would react.
Be willing to hire for the right work ethic and personality, even if they aren’t the most experienced. You’ll most likely be happier with someone with four years of experience who exemplifies the traits you want than someone with forty years of experience and a much different approach and principles than your practice.
2. Be a Good Role Model
If you were applying to your practice, would you hire you? That’s a bit of a tongue twister but, many times, if we look at ourselves objectively, we’re doing things we do not want team members to do. We are rushing through tasks and don’t train people well. We don’t give feedback to team members or offer to help out a team member when they are overwhelmed. And many of us struggle to receive feedback from others in our office.
We need to be just like the team members we’d want to work with us. We need to be coachable, open to new ideas, flexible, and ready to bring our best selves to the office every single day. We need to be team players and helpful in the office. And we need to come to the office with a positive attitude.
If you aren’t sure, ask a trusted team member to identify three things you can improve on. When you ask it that way, “What are three things I can improve on to set a better example in the office?” they are more inclined to answer honestly because the question asks for a list. If you ask whether you’re setting a good example, they can easily just answer “yes.” You might be surprised at what they say if they’re being honest.
3. Involve Your Team in Important Tasks and Decisions
When team members have more agency, they’re more likely to deliver the results for practice-wide growth and improvement. This can mean allowing top dental assistants to lead and supervise other dental assistants. It can mean engaging team members in the new-hire training and onboarding process. Or it can mean delegating tasks whenever and wherever you can.
If you’re having trouble delegating, start by delegating tasks where the outcome is important but the process you need people to take isn’t important. For example, you might delegate collecting patient testimonials to an outgoing team member. Coach them on how you ask for reviews or give them training on best practices but encourage them to put their personality into it when they ask.
Are you ready to foster a much more productive team at your practice?
If you want your team to be more focused and productive, you need to make expectations clear, be a good role model and involve your team in more important tasks and decisions. As you do, your team will begin to work better and become more productive together.
Join me and thousands of other dental professionals working together to improve our practices in the Nifty Thrifty Dentists Facebook group.