By Sally McKenzie, contributing writer

February 14, 2017 -- Life as a dentist can be pretty stressful. You spend most of your time diagnosing, treating, and educating patients, but your job doesn't end there. You also have to deal with the business side of owning a practice, which on any given day could include hiring, firing, and training team members.

Yes, you certainly have a lot to think about and get done -- and it all can seem overwhelming at times. Luckily, there are ways you can reduce your stress and improve practice performance. Interested in learning more? Read on for my tips.

1. Hire the right people

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Bad hires cause a lot of stress for you and your team members -- and they cost you a lot of money. To avoid them, I suggest you implement a hiring process in your practice. This should include placing a detailed ad, properly reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates over the phone as well as face to face, and conducting personality tests before making an official offer. This will help ensure you hire team members who will provide you with the support you need to succeed, not hold your practice back.

Hiring the right people from the beginning can also reduce turnover. The new team members you bring in will be happier with their roles, and current team members won't have to deal with the frustrations bad hires bring. This means you won't have to go through the hiring process nearly as often.

2. Provide the proper guidance

Many dentists think team members should be able to excel with little or no guidance from them. Sorry, but that isn't how it works. It's important to provide detailed job descriptions, continual feedback, and proper training to every team member you hire. This will help them excel in their jobs, while also reducing your stress level.

Not only that, well-trained, energized employees can help you fix broken systems that keep you from meeting your full potential. How? I suggest you create specific systems of checks and balances, then delegate responsibilities to employees who are confident in their skills. Encourage employees to take ownership of their systems and start thinking like CEOs. This will go a long way toward growing your bottom line and achieving success.

“Use the conflict as an opportunity to make improvements to your practice and grow stronger as a team.”

3. Squash staff conflict right away

Staff conflict creates tension and stress throughout the practice. It also hurts productivity and could even prompt patients to start looking for a new dental home. That's why you simply can't ignore conflict, no matter how much you might want to. If you notice conflict brewing among team members, address it right away. Sit down with everyone involved and work together to find a resolution. Use the conflict as an opportunity to make improvements to your practice and grow stronger as a team.

4. Give up some control

In my years as a dental consultant, I've worked with many dentists who want to be involved in every decision, no matter how small. They have a difficult time trusting others and aren't comfortable truly empowering team members to take ownership of their practice systems. This causes stress and also leads to frustration -- for both them and their team.

If you're one of these dentists, I recommend you give up a little control and start trusting team members to do the jobs you hired them to do. Ask them for updates so you're always in the loop, but don't feel like you need to be involved in every little detail.

When you start taking tasks off your to-do list (tasks your team members should be handling anyway), your stress level will go way down. You'll be happier to come to work each day and you'll be much more productive. And let's not forget your team members. They'll feel more empowered and confident, leading to improved efficiencies and performance -- as well as a more robust bottom line.

If stress is holding your practice back, it might be time to make a few changes. Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to reducing daily stressors and improving practice performance. Need more stress-reducing tips? Feel free to contact me. I'm here to help.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2017

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