3 Steps for Building a Strong Dental Team

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3 Steps for Building a Strong Dental Team

Having the right team members is essential when running a successful dental group practice or DSO. While it can be tempting to hire quickly to fill positions and meet patient demand, hiring without a careful eye can be detrimental in the long run.  

There’s a popular quote, “If you gotta tell them to help carry the bricks, they aren't the ones to build with." It’s important to bring this philosophy to life in the team-building process by hiring the right people and helping them reach their full potential.

In the incredibly impactful business book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes one of the first steps on the journey, "Get the right people on the bus." Failure to have a recruiting, onboarding, and training process that delivers enough capable people is a weakness that has affected many dental organizations. Developing this process is one of the core competencies of any dental practice, and its importance is multiplied in a DSO.

Here are 3 steps for building this process in your office:

Step 1: Designate a Leader of Employee Training

Employee training is essential to the success of any dental practice, but it’s an area that’s often overlooked in the hustle of day-to-day operations. Because the practice owners are stretched for time, training gets shelved for another day. The first step in transforming your team is to designate a leader to take an active role in leading employee training initiatives. This step is critical in developing a thriving dental group practice.

When you training employees properly, you end up with a dynamic team that can deliver exceptional customer service while maintaining high office morale and growing the practice. At a minimum, training should include guidance on interacting with patients, enforcing safety protocols, using technology systems, and creating positives experience for patients.

Step 2: Set Expectations for Each Role in the Practice

Each role in a practice needs to be clearly defined and each team member should be expected to contribute to an excellent patient experience and an efficiently run practice. It's vital that both employees and employers know the expectations set out before attempting any type of training. Once expectations for performance are set, it’s time to seek out training that fills the gap between where your team is now and where you want them to be.

Several methods of education are available for dental practices including hands-on training, webinars, and seminars. In our experience at the Spark Dental Network, some of the best learning comes from role-playing, mentorship, and in-the-trenches guidance.

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivate Us, he describes the three primary motivators: Autonomy, Purpose, and Mastery. Dental practices of all sizes can benefit from investing in training and development programs that aid their employees in reaching mastery. When team members feel a sense of mastery in their work, they are more confident, they build stronger relationships, they’re more team oriented, and performance increases. When choosing training for your team, look for ways to build true mastery.

Step 3: Make Employee Development an Ongoing, Non-Negotiable Part of the Practice Operations

Dentistry is no different than any other industry, dental practices must evolve to meet the changing technology and the needs of patients. While it might be tempting to train the whole team once and move on, training and development needs to continue throughout the life of your practice. 

Ongoing training and development will help your practice stay current and maintain a competitive advantage in your community. By providing education, resources, and guidance to team members, the practice can ensure that its staff is knowledgeable about the latest dental procedures and technologies to offer its patients the highest quality of care. We’ve seen time and again that the dental practices that invest in ongoing training for their teams enjoy higher patient satisfaction, more streamlined processes, and reduced costs. Commit to a regular training schedule and watch your team performance exponentially improve.

With proper training, practices can empower staff to improve themselves and improve the practice performance. Additionally, research shows that employees who are given development opportunities tend to stick around for the long term. When staff is given the chance to grow professionally, retention rises, the quality of patient care improves, profitability goes up, and everybody wins.

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Spark is a curated private group of owners and leaders of group dental practices, who come together four times a year to collaborate in a safe, inspiring, and humbling way. Spark is an invitation-only group specifically tailored to help you grow your small to mid-sized dental groups or DSOs by a factor of 10x.

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