We have entered a new era when it comes to employment and work. We are still facing the tail end of the “great resignation,” when people in all industries resigned from their jobs even if they didn’t have new jobs or positions lined up. It was a mini-revolution of workers saying they had had enough of the working conditions, they no longer wanted to be treated as they had been, and they wanted a new working set of behaviors.
This change requires a shift in the way we do business and treat our teams. In general, dentists are genuinely nice to their staff, but employees now want something different. It is in the best interests of the doctor, office manager, and team for everyone to change their behaviors.
To keep your team, below are five essential behaviors dental leaders should exhibit.
- Respect. Respect means that you truly admire and have positive feelings about the work being done by each team member. Rather than thinking of your team members as subservient employees, go to work tomorrow believing that they are equals in the practice. In fact, think of your practice as one big executive team where everyone has a function.
- Independence. Micromanagement today is a killer for dental teams. Leaders may have felt that micromanagement was necessary because many team members either were not trained or were incapable of completing jobs properly. If your people don’t know what they must do, they won’t have the confidence to perform. Identify what training is needed for the team so that you can cultivate independence. I believe that dentists need to stop managing and start measuring. This simply means that you should train team members, allow them to work independently, and measure their capabilities by the expected outcomes.
- Relationships. Until recently, the general attitude of owners and managers in terms of employees was “I pay you. You work.” This perspective generally wasn’t unpleasant or nasty, and it worked for many years. However, it no longer works for today’s staff members. Staff members now want work to be fun and enjoyable. In fact, they want the office to be an extension of the rest of their lives, where they have friends and enjoy fun activities. On Sunday night they want to feel like tomorrow will be a great day, not a “Monday.”
- Compassion. Today’s dental team member wants to know that somebody cares about them. I heard a story about a dental assistant who was on the verge of tears and suddenly left the treatment room during a procedure. The dentist displayed compassion rather than annoyance that she had not completed the procedure and sought out the assistant so they could privately discuss what was wrong. He discovered that she was about to lose her apartment because her roommate had moved out in the middle of the pandemic, and she could not afford the rent on her own. The dentist immediately told her that the practice would cover her rent over the next six months. She promised to pay him back every penny, but he told her that would not be necessary. Don’t you think this is a team member who will have incredible loyalty and longevity? Compassion is about viewing the team as people and feeling responsible for them to have the opportunity to have excellent lives beyond the practice.
- Inspiration. How can you help each team member and the overall team become inspired to grow, learn, develop, evolve, and do a great job? This can happen by giving them a sense of inspiration through consistent compliments, recognition for doing a great job, and rewards ranging from small gift certificates to bonuses. These actions are essential when it comes to inspiring other people and keeping your team for life. It also creates a feel-good environment in the practice every day.
Yes, I know that we really cannot guarantee that we can keep all our team members for life. But I also know that many more team members would not resign or leave the workforce if they found their jobs rewarding. Dentists and office managers who master these five behavioral characteristics and begin to internalize them are guaranteed to retain more of their team members.
Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit LevinGroup.com or email email@example.com.
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