How to Motivate Your Dental Practice Staff

Does this sound familiar? You hired your staff for their desire and drive, but you’re having a hard time seeing that motivation in action at your practice. What’s more frustrating is the lack of forward momentum. Every new policy you implement works for a short amount of time and then reverts back to the old ways.

You need a system to stay on track. This requires leadership, but knowing how to effectively manage a dental practice is difficult.

If you’re feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel of attempting to institute change, there are a few things you can do to jump off today and hit the ground running toward a smoother functioning practice.

Clarify, Clarify, Clarify

One of the biggest reasons teams don’t perform is because of a lack of clarity around the practice’s goals, vision, or structure. A team member might know his individual role, but he might not be able to see how his performance impacts the greater objectives of your practice.

Clarify your expectations from day one. Then, tell your team how each of their roles fits in with your practice’s goals and vision.

Having each team member see himself or herself as an integral part of your overall plan will help them be proactive and keep busy. When your team believes their work has a greater purpose, they’re more likely to stick around and perform better.

Be Consistent

Another reason practices revert back to old habits is because change is uncomfortable. The only way to make an effective change is to be consistent in your approach.

When you implement new management practices, you must stick to your guns. Will things get thorny at times? Yes. As a leader, you need to stay headstrong and push for consistency so old habits can die hard and new habits can form.

Hold Your Team Accountable

What happens when a team member doesn’t pull his weight? Are there rewards for the team members who go above and beyond and consequences for the team members who slack off? If not, you’re sending the wrong signal to your team and sucking their motivation dry.

Top performers like to feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work. When they’re receiving the same compensation and recognition as the office slacker, you’re not giving them a reason to give their all every day.

Hold your team accountable. Use positive reinforcement for the people who show up every day motivated to help your practice succeed. Don’t shy away from giving consequences to the staff who skate by.

Communication is Key

It’s virtually impossible to be clear in your goals, vision, and expectations without strong communication. It’s even more difficult to stay consistent and hold your team accountable without a proper method for communicating.

Email can feel burdensome. Paper trails are clunky. Verbal communication can be misinterpreted and offer little in the way of documenting important conversations. In light of this, we don’t suggest using one of the many communication tools available; we suggest using all of them. The combination of these tools makes it easier for team members to stay on the same page, policy and management wise. Here are a few:

  • Email: Leave a digital paper trail by documenting your latest updates and key messages via email.
  • Text Messaging: Most people on your staff don’t plant themselves in front of a computer all day, but they do have their phone in hand or in their pocket. Ensure they’ve seen important information by sending a quick text. If nothing else, prompt your staff to look at their email.
  • Regular Meetings: Hold regular meetings to ensure everyone has seen their emails and text messages. Confirm that they have the latest information about what’s happening in your dental office.
  • Calendars: Eliminate excuses for missed meetings and missed deadlines by using a public calendar in your office.
  • Project Boards: If you have a big goal or an ongoing project, keep everyone updated with a project board in the office.

Hire Smarter

Chances are you’re not ready to fire and hire. That’s okay. Still, smart hiring strategies are important to keep in mind for the next time you have a job opening in your practice.

Keep in mind the elements your team needs to see from you as a leader:

  1. Consistency
  2. Clarity of goals, vision, and expectations
  3. Accountability measures
  4. Solid communication

When you’re hiring, filter resumes and conduct interviews with these elements as your lens. This will help you visualize what it’ll look like if you hire an applicant you’re considering. For example, if you’ve started to use email to communicate with your team, but the applicant rarely sends an email, she might not be a good fit for your more tech-savvy office.

You Don’t Have to Lead Alone

Being a leader can sometimes feel overwhelmingly lonely. Coming up with plans, maintaining a consistent approach, and holding people accountable can be daunting. Perhaps more frustrating is when your message gets lost in translation. After all, communication isn’t just about what you say but how you say it. The way your message is received by your team can be determined by how you deliver it.

You want to focus on your patients, not putting out fires with your team. That’s where we come in.

With our decades of experience working specifically with dental offices, we’ll help you put together a business strategy that helps your practice run smoothly and efficiently. Sign up for your free coaching call  to receive immediate tips on how to motivate your team, get everyone on the same page, and boost the momentum in your office.

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