Your dental team members are your biggest asset and success lies in looking after them.
After decades of studying during college, dental school, and residency, your true challenge as a dentist is managing a dental practice. It takes a lot of work and experience to understand the nuances of managing a dental practice, but with the right team, you can have a successful professional and personal life.
One of the greatest assets in your office is your dental team members. They are the ones who communicate with your patients, recruit, schedule and bill, and often spend the most time with the people who walk through your doors. Your dental team may consist of office personnel, hygienists, assistants, floaters, and associate dentists. In order to maintain long-term, motivated employees it is of the utmost importance to respect them and let them know of their value in the practice.
Here are 5 tips to help manage your dental team, which in the long run will create a more efficiently run practice and put less stress on you as a dental owner. With a happy staff, you will feel more at ease and able to focus on the bigger picture goals to ensure your practice is a success for years to come.
1. Respect your dental team.
There are so many things to manage in a dental practice, but one of the most important areas is team morale. Your team’s motivation can directly impact the success of your office, and often disrespect or even a lack of acknowledgment can result in unhappy staff.
According to the General Dental Council, you need to respect the contribution of all team members and communicate to gain loyalty. The Academy of Dental CPAs recognizes that poor team morale can directly impact your patient care and productivity. Each of your team members has a unique set of skills and brings something different to your team. By focusing on these unique aspects, you’ll be able to not only structure your team to its best advantage, but your team will know that you see them and their skills and appreciate the positive impact they have on the overall practice.
2. Understand that your dental team has responsibilities outside the office.
While you are completely dedicated to your practice, your team has responsibilities outside of work. Respecting your team members’ time will greatly improve their work attitude and positivity. If you know a team member has an important family event or needs a mental health day, make it a priority to respect their time away from the office. While we may want our staff to be present at all times, there are situations like illness and other family obligations that need to be addressed.
Give your staff a reasonable amount of paid and unpaid time off depending on their work schedule. Some states have regulations for employee benefits, but if you go the extra mile in understanding your employees’ need for time off, they will go out of their way to work harder when in the office.
3. Implement a practice manual.
Most dental offices admit they do not have a practice manual and it can create a lot of confusion and stress. Having a new employee read and sign a practice manual will give them clear guidance on expectations around time off, holidays, work standards, etc. Your staff will appreciate that you have outlined the goals and direction of your office, and will feel confident that they understand and can champion those goals. You will also have a clear framework to reference when communicating with your team about the direction of your practice.
4. Balance their work schedule.
All of your staff have some type of personal life outside of the office. Many team members may be planning weddings, starting families, or making time for grandchildren. Work with your staff on taking time off when you do—but remember to plan this ahead of time to give them notice. Outside of this, it is recommended that your team members take rotating blocks of time off if needed so you are not left alone in the office.
Since dental schedules are typically made in six-month blocks, manage your time off bi-yearly so everyone is on the same page and they can arrange their vacations around the same time. Also try to encourage your staff to book their time off in advance so you can plan the office coverage with other team members or temporary workers.
5. Motivate and reward your dental team.
Support your team members by recognizing their hard work. Incentives go a long way in any position, but there are several ways to reward your dental team members for their loyalty, positive attitude, and productivity. Dental Economics recommends team incentive bonus plans and notes they can have a positive impact on practice growth. The happier your staff is, the harder they work to schedule patients and provide chairside care for the office. Some key ways to help motivate your employees include:
- End-of-quarter bonus.
- A raise.
- Profit sharing.
- Additional paid time off.
- Additional vacation days.
- Paid continuing education courses.
- Gift cards or a meal.
While each practice will have a different culture and office model, it is through your team that you will build this culture, and great team members are invaluable. A good staff member can help your practice grow and flourish, while an unhappy one can create stress and poor team morale. Invest in finding the right team members, and once you find them, invest in valuing their time and rewarding hard work.
Managing a dental practice can be a juggle, but the good news is that a positive and effective team will be there to help catch any balls that fall. And by looking after your most important asset (your team!), you will be setting solid foundations for years of success with a committed and loyal team by your side.
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