Is A Weak Team Holding Your Practice Back?

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

No matter how talented you are clinically or how much money you invest into your practice, you’ll struggle if you don’t surround yourself with talented, capable team members who support you. Hiring the right team members truly is critical to your success, as is giving them tools they need to excel. Anything short of that contributes to a weak team that holds your practice back.

How do you know if you have a weak team? Here are the common signs, as well tips to help you build a strong team that can do their part to you move your practice forward and grow your bottom line:

They don’t have much motivation. The most successful team members are passionate about what they do. They love their jobs and are always looking for ways to contribute to practice success. If that doesn’t describe your team members, it could be because they feel lost and need more guidance from you, the practice CEO.

The leadership role is something many dentists struggle with, but it really is key to building a strong team and a successful practice. I suggest you start by creating detailed job descriptions. I know, I know. You probably don’t think you need job descriptions and that they’re a waste of time. That simply isn’t true. Job descriptions serve as a road map to success, and give team members the direction they need to excel.

To really get team members involved, include them when developing job descriptions for their roles. Talk with them about individual goals and align those goals with practice goals. Share your vision for the practice, and let them know what they can do to bring that vision to life. This will encourage team members to take more ownership of their systems, and will help them see why their contributions matter—motivating them to meet and even exceed the expectations you outlined in their job description.

There always seems to be some sort of conflict. Not only is conflict among team members stressful for everyone in the practice, it also costs you money. And not a little bit of money. I’m talking thousands of dollars every year. That’s why you simply can’t ignore problems that come up and hope they will go away on their own. They usually don’t, with negative feelings festering until the conflict finally boils out of control and damages your practice.

Another problem with conflict? It leads to a negative work environment that hurts team morale and may be enough to send some employees looking for a new gig. Not exactly a recipe for a strong team. Patients also notice the tension, and while some may put up with it, others will opt to call another practice the next time they’re ready for an appointment.

Don’t let conflict damage your practice. Develop a culture where team members are comfortable coming to you with any issues or concerns they have. If you notice eye rolling or gossiping among team members, find out what’s leading to it and sit down and talk with whoever is involved. Never finger point or place blame. Work together to find a solution to the problem, and use the experience as an opportunity to improve your practice.

Bottom line: You’ll never completely avoid conflict, but it doesn’t have to damage your practice. Use it as an opportunity for change and you’ll find it actually strengthens your team while helping your practice grow.

They seem unsure of themselves. This typically happens when team members aren’t trained properly. They’re just not confident in their skills, which hurts productivity and your bottom line.

The fact is, a poorly trained team is the biggest contributor to practice inefficiency and mismanagement. Dentists might think they’re saving money by skipping on training, but they’re really costing themselves more in the long run (not to mention all the headaches that come with a poorly trained staff). That’s why it’s so important to provide team members with proper training from the beginning. Team members will be more comfortable in their role and more efficient, not to mention happier to come to work each day—which are all good things for your bottom line.

They’re falling short of your expectations. Even if you outline your expectations in the job descriptions you create (which you should) that doesn’t mean team members will automatically start meeting them. Training helps a great deal, but providing continual feedback is another way to encourage team members to improve their performance.

I recommend praising team members every time you see them doing something that contributes to practice success, and taking them aside when you notice them doing something that isn’t quite right. Most team members crave this type of feedback, and use it to become better at what they do.

A weak team can lead to many problems in your dental practice. Taking steps to strengthen your team will lead to happier employees who have the tools they need to excel in their roles. These team members can help you meet your full potential, rather than hold your practice back.

Next Thursday: Want to strengthen your team? Teach them to think like leaders Share this Newsletter

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