What Kills Dental Team Morale?

Many dentists graduate dental school and go on to work as an associate for a few years before starting their own practice.  You often start out as a top dog and sometimes have a hard time relating to what life was like prior to being a business owner.  Unlike restaurant managers and business executives, most dentists never had to “work their way up”. This can make it very difficult for them to relate to their staff.


Instead of calling them your “staff”, make an oath to refer to them as your “team”.  Without them, you would have a very difficult time running everything.  A smooth running office start with respect from the dentist to the team.  It’s up to YOU to set the example of respectful behavior.  (Respect is NOT passive aggression.)

Answer these questions to help you know if you have been displaying passive aggression to your team.

1. Do you try to ignore when a team member makes a mistake, but let your disappointment fester throughout the day resulting in an overall negative attitude toward your team?

You should address issues directly and professionally when they arise.  Address these circumstances without emotion or after you’ve “cooled down” but track issues and address them during employee reviews.

2. Do you struggle with knowing “who does what” in the office?

Having accountability systems in place will help you feel at ease and reassured that important tasks are reaching completion in a timely fashion.

3. Do your team meetings involve criticism and frustration or are they positive and motivating?

Team meetings are a time to discuss TEAM issues that have come up in the past week or month.  This may include a patient complaint or a system that is no longer working.  After coming up with solutions and implementing accountability for those solutions, the majority of the meeting should be focused on positive and motivating topics.

4. Do you compliment 5-7 times more often than you criticize?

This is important.  Some business owners (including dentists) get in the habit of acknowledging when something goes wrong, but skimming past all of the “right”.  Make it a habit to praise your team for improvement and accomplishments and you will experience practice growth and a pleasant work environment.  This can be a difficult thing to learn, so put a reminder in your phone every morning or afternoon to focus on the positive accomplishments of your team.

As a business owner, it’s your job to keep morale high.  You may think that by avoiding difficult topics, like talking to Kathy about being late consistently is going to drop morale. In reality, completely ignoring these “little” occurrences can hurt morale just as much.  Confrontation shouldn’t be avoided completely, but you should learn how to confront appropriately. If you don’t want to handle these types of situations, you will need to delegate them to someone with the experience, skill set and authority to aid in the day to day duties of the team.

Keep your head up and keep moving forward and your team will follow you.

Contact Grace Rizza to receive Monday Motivational Tips at Identity Dental Marketing.

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