While creating beautiful smiles for your patients may be what you do best, it’s just as important to keep your team smiling!
If your dental practice is not running smoothly and productively, there could be a problem with the office culture.
Here’s a question for you: What is the culture of your dental practice?
Do employees show up each day to work? Does everyone occasionally attend a staff meeting? Do the workers call each other co-worker?
Or does everyone share part of their life as a member of a team, coming together with support, assistance, and encouragement to improve smiles? There’s a popular saying that is popular because it is so true: Teamwork is the dream work. But also understand—teamwork doesn’t have to be a dream. You can make it a reality.
When you have a team, everyone is happier. Including your patients.
My name is Jennifer Pearce, and I’m the owner, founder, and lead executive coach at Prosperity Dental Solutions. I’ve been involved in dentistry for almost a quarter of a century, including 18 years as a practice administrator and four years as co-owner of several successful practices. Trust me when I say—I know the dental industry and what it takes to have a successful team.
In this article, I’m going to let you in on some great tips and ideas, including 3 team building ideas for your dentist office.
- Idea #1: Open Communication
- Idea #2: Create a Team Atmosphere
- Idea #3: Offer Rewards and Incentives
Team Building Idea #1: Open Communication
One of the most common reasons people feel like they are going to work as an employee rather than being part of a team is lack of communication. Each team member should feel comfortable and confident about talking to every other member of the team.
Sure, an “open-door policy” is a great start, but it’s not enough.
Communication needs to be ongoing and all-encompassing. Think of it like hygiene. You don’t just wash your hands once in the morning, and then you’re good all day. You also don’t just wash your hands. You take a shower. Wash your hair. Brush and floss.
Make a commitment to promote healthy communication between all team members. To begin the process, hold a team meeting.
The team meeting should include:
- A safe, positive atmosphere
- Let everyone know they will be heard
- Squash any judgment, negativity, or finger-pointing
- Make sure each team member knows the vision and mission of your practice
- Layout your expectations and goals
- Ask them for their input regarding what works well and what doesn’t
- Ask outright the team’s perception of current communication
- Get their ideas for improving communication
- Encourage them to address any problems as they arise
- Inquire if the team members feel they receive adequate feedback about performance
Now that the lines of communication are open, keep it going. Schedule regular team meetings. This shows your availability and proves your commitment to the team. You could do shorter, more focused meetings each week, and longer, more open ones once a month.
At the monthly meetings, consider asking open questions. For instance:
- What was the biggest challenge you faced this month?
- What did we accomplish, or what goal did we meet?
- What is working well or not working well?
- Is there anything we can do to improve things?
Have a daily morning huddle. If you’ve ever watched a sports team in action, you’ve seen them huddle. The huddle allows them to communicate and encourage each other. Keep it brief—maybe 10 minutes—focused, and on-time. This allows the team to check-in, set daily goals, and discuss what the day looks like.
Team Building Idea #2: Create a Team Atmosphere
When people like each other, they feel more like a team member. Okay, so not everyone can always get along with everyone else, but when people have a chance to get to know each other, harmony comes easier.
Create opportunities for non-work-related activities to boost friendships. This increases morale and productivity.
Help your team members build friendships and harmony. Consider some of the following in and out of office ideas:
- Plan regular fun activities outside the office—or put someone else in charge of doing this. Bowling, mini-golf, happy hour, a cooking class, a baseball game, batting cages, roller skating. The sky is the limit. Get creative. You will soon appreciate how much getting silly and laughing together builds a team.
- Buy them lunch. You’d be surprised how much your team members will appreciate a free meal! You can bring in lunch for everyone at once or treat one member at a time as you get to know them.
- Encourage potlucks. The fastest way to someone’s heart is through the stomach. Let the team members who love to cook or have a prized recipe shine. Those who don’t cook can contribute drinks, chips, or bread. Consider holiday potlucks and birthday month celebrations.
- Bring in an ice cream truck to treat everyone with their favorite option.
- Have dress-up days based on themes and offer prizes for the most creative, best design, etc. Consider superhero day, pajama day, silly socks, luau theme, favorite sports team, etc.
- Get everyone involved in volunteering. Serve the less-fortunate together at a soup kitchen or enter a 5K as a team.
- Experience continuing education together. This not only encourages bonding, but it helps improve the care for your patients. It could be a seminar, webinar, learning lunch, or in-office training.
- Want to go really crazy? Close the office for a day and use work hours for a fun, non-CE event, such as opening day at the ballpark or a day trip somewhere.
Once you get to know your team better through open communication, you can tailor activities to fit them better.
When you do fun activities, post pictures and videos on social media. Share it in newsletters and on your website. Patients like to know the people who care for their oral health enjoy having fun together.
Team Building Idea #3: Offer Rewards and Incentives
People work for paychecks. While many employers believe the paycheck is enough of reward, know you can do better. It doesn’t have to be big, dramatic, or expensive. You just want to acknowledge outstanding performance.
Look for ways to boost morale by offering rewards and incentives. Some may be known, such as a bonus or team event for hitting a certain goal. But you should also consider handing out unexpected acknowledgments.
Here are some ideas:
- Have a stack of gift cards or awards for things like an ice cream break and hand them out as you catch team members going above and beyond.
- Recognize team members for doing well publicly.
- Have a corkboard in the breakroom to post notes regarding the positive behaviors of team members. Encourage everyone to write notes to each other.
- Consider gifts for reaching goals. This could be something like tickets to an event, amusement park, or movie, flowers, a fruit basket, a trip to the spa, or gift cards to a restaurant. Again, get creative.
- Consistently encourage team members.
Get Started on Building Your Team Today
If you want to get serious about building a team that works well together and makes your practice more enjoyable, I can help. Contact me online or call (817) 975-4576 today to get started!
Happy team building!