The Mistakes Dentists Make

Today I’m going to share the 8 top mistakes I see dentists making when it comes to running their practice as a business. (And yes I will admit I’ve made a few of these errors in my time too).

Dentist Mistake 1 – Failing to make the tough decisions.

Face up to it, you are the business owner and there are problems that only you can solve. They will not get better until you address them; and most times ignoring them means they get worse. You owe it to your team and yourself to take action. Whatever it is – dealing with conflict, staff performance, and dealing with white space in the book you need to get on with it. Get the facts, don’t over think the problem or let it drag out. Make a decision. Create a process to solve the problem and get through it. It will feel much better having made the decision and taken action than it ever does brooding over it.

Dentist Mistake 2 – Leading the crowd 


You can’t create collective groupthink without individual buy-in first. The common mistake I see is trying to build your leadership without first creating one-on-one connections with every member of your team. To lead you must inspire individuals. If you can inspire every member of your team, you will find yourself leading the crowd.

Take time to get to know your team, understand what each person values and what motivates them.

Dentist Mistake 3 – Hiring too quickly, firing too slowly 


I use this saying when it comes to hiring – you must have the right people in the right seats. They must fit your culture and align to your values. I see too many dentists desperate to fill a role in their team so they take anyone who they think will do and this can and often leads to disastrous results. Not having enough people to run your practice is challenging. Having the wrong people is a nightmare and terrible for business and your reputation. Take your time and hire the right person for your team. You and the rest of your team deserve to get the best person, not the first person.

On the flip side many dentists take too long to let a rotten apple go. Firing someone is never easy but keeping someone who does not fit your practice is like letting a cancer grow. You’ve got to cut it out if you want your practice to live.

Dentist Mistake 4 –Playing favourites

It’s only natural that you will get on better with some employees better than others. And here you need to be careful as it can create the perception of favouritism and friction in your team. Be aware of how and how often you interact with members of your team and make sure you treat them all fairly. It’s ok to be “friendly” with your team, but being close friends with them can make things difficult. Once you become their friend, it makes it difficult to be their boss.

Dentist Mistake 5 – Failing to set goals and expectations

Without clear goals and expectations, people are less productive. Most performance issues are due to poorly communicated expectations. Without a clear idea of how to play the game and what winning looks like your team will struggle to prioritise their tasks or complete them. Every person on your team should know what they are responsible for and how to do it and why it needs to be done. If your team know what they need to do, how they need to do it, why what they do is important to the success of the business, you will have a motivated, engaged, and committed team.

Dentist Mistake 6 – Not delegating aka micro-managing


“letting go” of tasks and responsibilities that can be more efficiently handled by members of the team. As dentists we are juggling time, money, and people. Every minute you spend on a task that could be delegated is a minute you are ignoring a vital task that cannot be delegated. If you do not delegate often or effectively you cannot work on your goals and strategy to move your business forward. Delegation frees you up to develop your team as leaders in their own right and take pressure off you.

Empower your team to get their jobs done, even if it means they’ll make a few mistakes. Your job is to be there to help them grow and learn from it.

Dentist Mistake 7 – Lack of feedback 


People want to know how they are doing. People want to be recognised for performing their job well. They also want corrective feedback so they know when they are not meeting expectations. If you fail to acknowledge poor performance it will likely go uncorrected and the problem will keep recurring. On the flip side you must also recognise improvement and effort, and a job well done to keep your team motivated and repeating more of the behaviour that you a wanting to create.

Dentist Mistake 8 – Failing to listen to your team

Use everyone’s brain, not just yours. Get feedback and input from your team. They often see the problems and the opportunities differently to you. Create a culture where team members feel they can speak openly about any topic, encourage team members to express concern, share ideas, and even disagree. Your team can often offer the clarity you need to make a solid decision for the good of the practice.

As a dental practice owner we think we are doing it alone but with the support, backing and input of our teams we can create incredible businesses that are profitable and joy to work in.