How to motivate your dental team to be more productive and effective

I hear all too frequently from dentists that they can’t get their team to do what they want them to do, especially when it comes to change and implementing new ideas or initiatives into the dental practice.

So in this blog, I’m going to share some ways to get more out of your team and to have them want to do it!!!

Hire Great, Productive People

First of all you need to hire the best people, if you’ve got under-performers on your team or people who are simply not aligned to you vision, culture and values then no amount of incentive will shift a poor attitude or poor hire.

Having a great dental team and having them all work together as a well-oiled machine starts from the very beginning: when you recruit and hire staff. Often we rush to hire, to fill that vacancy that is creating extra stress and workload for the team. I also know that being the dentist and business owner means you’re very busy! And that can lead to rash and bad decision making as you just want to get through the interviews and employ someone.

Now I get you want to focus on doing dentistry, which is exactly why you need to make sure you hire high quality staff who can run the business side of dentistry while you’re seeing patients.

Don’t just quickly hire the first or second person you interview because you don’t have enough time. You need to remember that you are seeking to employ someone to help you run the business while you’re doing dentistry, and so you need to set time aside to interview, ask questions, look through their credentials and make sure that they’re not only a good fit for your office, but they’re someone you can trust to do the job you’re hiring them for.

Make sure during the process you have a conversation with them about aligning your goals – you’ll help them work towards theirs by providing support and they’ll help you reach your dental practice goals by doing a great job and getting patients scheduled for their appointments.

Ok so you’ve hired great people with lots of potential and you already have a great team…

So why is it then that they are under performing?

There are 5 main factors:

  1. Inadequate or no systems
  2. Lack of or poor training
  3. Unclear expectations and no targets/KPIs to reach
  4. Poor culture with unhappy staff and low morale
  5. Micromanagement – where you stifle your team so they give up trying


Properly train your dental team

A team that works well together is a team that is properly trained and competent at their job. Training your team is a full-time job in itself! This is why in my practice we created our online training platform that houses processes, systems, how to’s and video trainings. This way our team can access the content and learn at any time during working hours.

When you have a team that doesn’t really know what they’re doing, it creates havoc on your practice. The phones won’t be getting answered properly, the schedule will have holes in it and not be booked for production and ease of flow, instruments and treatments will not be set up correctly and I shudder to think how infection control is being handled if your employees aren’t properly trained.

So, make it a priority to have you or your practice manager train your team. Also have your team cross train each other so they know what they are doing and do it well.

Measure Performance

People like to know if they’re doing a good job or not. If the way you measure that is just how you feel about that employee or what other staff say about them…that’s not good for the owner or the employee.

You need to manage by numbers and statistics. Each team member has a number in the practice that they are responsible for. Such as production, hygiene visits, new patient numbers, case acceptance, new patient calls converted to appointments. When this is tracked on a scorecard, you can see if they’re doing their job well and helping the practice grow.

Make happy staff with a great culture

There are various ways to keep your employees happy and these include: good communication, rewarding performance and behaviour, asking for input and letting them decide solutions, being allowed to offer and express opinions. Doing fun things together and socialising.

Become a good boss and lead the team well. The team members will be happy when you give your best to the team. You must become responsive to your employees and be the leader to help mentor and coach them to grow.

Team meetings Have regular meetings at least once every month to discuss the performance of the dental practice and the team. Have one on one check in meetings with each member of the team to help them develop, learn and grown, set goals and see what support you can offer them.

Create a culture of cooperation and collaboration with an environment of healthy and emotional wellbeing. You must look after the needs of all your members and not just concentrate on a few of them. Create a culture of we all pull together and support each other. Where it’s ok to ask for help and to offer it.

Keeping employees happy is very important for a profitable dental practice. Happy employees will work towards a shared common goal of increasing the productivity of the team and your team will be more productive and effective.

What changes can you make to help your team be happy and create a culture where people want to give and do more?