Dental Team, Assemble!By: Joyce Kahng, DDS •June 15, 2023
Behind every thriving dental practice is a cohesive, skilled, and committed team. It’s the team that helps translate a dentist’s technical expertise into a quality patient experience.
Below are some outstanding tips you can follow when you are building and nurturing a successful dental team.
Before we dive into how to build a dental team, it’s important to understand the value of a strong team.
In a dental practice, every team member plays their own vital role in patient care—from the receptionist who first greets the patients, to the dental hygienists and assistants who aid in procedures, to the administrative staff…and so on.
A dental team’s primary role is to provide comprehensive oral health care, educate patients, and ensure a positive and comfortable patient experience. The team must also maintain a safe, clean, and organized clinical environment. Understanding these roles will help you identify the skills and attributes you need when recruiting team members.
Building a strong dental team begins with hiring the right people. While a candidate’s credentials and technical skills are important, the character and mindset of the candidate are equally crucial.
You want to hire individuals who are passionate about oral health, patient-focused, adaptable, and service-oriented. Look for candidates who not only have the necessary technical skills but also possess strong interpersonal skills. They should be able to build a rapport with patients and understand their needs.
During the hiring process, consider incorporating a “working interview” phase. This approach provides an opportunity for potential hires to showcase their skills and allows you to observe how they interact with your existing team and patients.
Remember that training can improve technical skills, but personality traits and work ethic are often inherent. Make sure you hire for attitude and train for skills.
Once you’ve hired your team, it’s crucial to invest in their development. A culture of continuous learning will not only improve individual skills but also contribute to your practice’s overall excellence.
Create a robust training program tailored to your team’s needs. This might include understanding the latest dental procedures, honing customer service skills, mastering new dental software, or familiarizing with compliance protocols. Make sure that your training program includes both theoretical learning and practical, hands-on sessions.
Cross-training, where employees learn different roles within the practice, can also be beneficial. It not only increases your team’s versatility and resilience but also enhances team members’ understanding and appreciation of each other’s roles. This, in turn, fosters empathy and cooperation.
Building a strong dental team isn’t just about skills and training. Team dynamics and relationships significantly impact the quality of care you deliver and the overall patient experience. Fostering a positive team spirit is essential.
Regular team meetings and team-building activities can enhance communication, build trust, and foster camaraderie. Celebrate team achievements and milestones to boost morale and reinforce a sense of belonging and pride. Encourage peer recognition to foster mutual respect and collaboration.
Promote an open-door policy, where team members can freely voice their concerns, ideas, and suggestions. This encourages a culture of mutual respect, continuous improvement, and shared responsibility for the practice’s success.
As the practice owner or the leading dentist, your leadership style significantly impacts the culture and effectiveness of your team. You need to be more than a good dentist; you need to be a good leader.
A strong leader maintains a balance between professionalism and empathy. Be firm and clear in your expectations, but also be approachable and supportive.
Lead by example—exhibit dedication, strong work ethic, empathy, and integrity in everything you do. Show that you’re open to feedback and willing to make necessary changes.
Regularly check in with your team members, acknowledge their contributions, and provide constructive feedback. Show genuine interest in their well-being and professional growth. Your team members should feel that they’re valued and appreciated—which motivates them to give their best.
Building, developing, and maintaining a strong dental team is not a one-time event; rather, it’s a continuous, ongoing process that requires commitment, patience, and strategic effort. This journey begins with the crucial step of recruiting the right individuals—those who not only possess the necessary skills and qualifications but also align with your practice’s values. Keep in mind, though, hiring the right people is just the beginning.
Once your team is assembled, a significant part of your role as a leader is to nurture their growth and foster a positive, collaborative working environment. This is achieved through a blend of comprehensive, continual training, and development opportunities. Remember, in the rapidly evolving field of dentistry, your team must stay on top of the latest developments and innovations. Investing in your team’s professional development is an investment in your practice’s excellence and quality of care.
As the practice owner or lead dentist, your leadership style plays a pivotal role in shaping the team’s culture and productivity. Good leadership goes beyond making decisions and giving instructions. It involves leading by example, showing integrity, demonstrating a strong work ethic, and displaying empathy towards team members. Regular check-ins, constructive feedback, and genuine interest in your team’s well-being and professional growth are key elements of effective leadership. A leader’s support and acknowledgment can significantly enhance a team member’s sense of value and job satisfaction—motivating them to deliver their best.
Building a strong dental team is like crafting a well-oiled machine, where each part functions optimally and works well with the others—leading to enhanced performance. With the right people and great leadership, your practice will not just survive the competitive landscape of dental healthcare but truly thrive, setting new standards of patient care and team collaboration.
The right dental team will help to enhance the patient experience, make a difference in the community, and craft beautiful smiles!
DOCTOR + FOUNDER