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        Robert Ash - Author





Do you and your staff work together as a team?


Keeping up quality care, production and employee morale can be difficult in any dental office. Good technical skills are not the only important aspect of running a successful dental office. To be a leader, you need to use effective communication skills.


When I first started working in the dental business, I found that most Dentists and office managers couldn’t understand why the staff just wouldn’t work together as a team, and always seemed to have internal problems. Some Dentists took their entire staff to conventions and meetings, but for some reason, the training just never stuck. Even staff members were sent to technical courses to make sure their staff was properly trained. But again this didn’t always contribute to better production and teamwork.


This led to more frustration between Dentist and his/her staff. “I’ve trained you, what’s going on here? You don’t work effectively; you can’t get along with each other!” Some Dentists found staff members were unable to work with each other as well as the Dentists, themselves. That in turn decreased production and handling patients properly – doing exactly the opposite of what they had been working so hard to increase.


In some cases morale went down, attendance and quality decreased, and the distance between Dentists, office manager and staff became further apart. What can you as a dentist or office manager do to increase the quality of patient care in your office?


One of the biggest problems you have as a dentist or office manager is NOT due to lack of technical knowledge or skills, but rather the difficulty in understanding and communicating your wants and needs successfully to your staff.


Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy a dental office in a box like today’s cake mixes, open it, add the correct ingredients, mix it together, and Voila! – An Instant Successful Dental Office: A staff that’s works well together and patients who want to see you!


You must always be aware that HOW you communicate and WHAT you communicate to your staff members can either increase or decrease your quality of dental care for your patients!


Communication is not only “what” and “how” you say something, but communication is also your attitude and actions. Many staff members are locked into a certain way of thinking about their jobs that they become blind to the most effective way of performing their jobs. They place limitations on the way they work and make assumptions that can hurt your office. When this happens, staff members fail to communicate in ways that could help each other.


“The way a team plays as a whole determines its’ success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”…Babe Ruth


The same goes for your dental office. No matter whether you have two, fifty, or more staff members in your office, if you fail to work together as a team, your office will fail to reach its potential. But when everyone works together doing their share of work and helping others, great achievements can be made.


It isn’t the number of staff employed in the dental office that makes it successful; it’s the number of staff members working together as a unit to make it happen


There is a difference between “group performance” and “team performance.” Many dentists and office managers fail to realize the difference between group performance and team performance. After all, they feel it is just the same.


But with team performance, owners/leaders in any business using the same number of people and doing similar tasks with the same technology, somehow manage to improve productivity dramatically by establishing a climate where employees are willing to give their best and enjoy working together in teams.


The first step in establishing teamwork is to ask yourself the following questions.


Do you:

1. Select staff members who can meet the job requirements and work well with others?
2. Give your staff a sense of ownership by involving them in goal setting, problem solving and productivity improvement activities?
3. Provide team spirit by encouraging staff to work together and to support one another in learning new techniques and solving problems within the office?
4. Talk with staff openly and honestly and encourage the same kind of communication in return?
5. Keep agreements with your staff because their trust is essential to your leadership?
6. Help staff members to get to know each other so they can learn to trust, respect and appreciate individual talent and ability?
7. Make sure your staff has the required training to do their job and know how it relates to the final product?
8. Understand that conflict within groups is normal, but work to resolve it quickly and fairly before it can become destructive?
9. Believe that your staff will perform as a team when they know what is expected and what benefits they will receive by working as a team?
10. Replace staff members who cannot or will not met reasonable standards after appropriate training and coaching?


If you do, then you are taking the first step to stimulate teamwork. You as a leader must be sensitive to recognize your staff members’ needs and design ways to meet those needs while achieving the goals of your dental office. But at the same time, your staff must take responsibility to be part of that team.