Bringing a dental team together can be very challenging especially in a culture where everyone is used to looking out for themselves first and foremost before thinking about the others on their team. As a leader, you will want to foster an environment where everyone feels supported and works collaboratively toward common goals.
First, it is important for you as the leader to set clear expectations and provide ongoing training on best practices for working as part of a team. This should include understanding individual roles and how each person contributes to achieving overall objectives in the office. An objective may be as simple as keeping the office running on time or decreasing your hygiene open time. Whatever the goal is in a dental office there is likely a role for everyone to take in the success of achieving a goal. For example, if the goal is decreasing hygiene open time, it is up to the hygienist to do a thorough job of educating the patient on the benefits and consequences of keeping in their diagnosed perio intervals, it is the dentist’s role to support and re-iterate the diagnosis, it is the assistants job to see if any patients being seen in the dentist’s chair may be due for a hygiene appointment and maybe they could slide over and it is the administrators task to confirm and book effectively. Without team work on this and almost every other goal in the office you will have difficulty achieving your goals.
Second, as a leader it is always best if you create an emotionally supportive atmosphere in which your team members feel secure enough to voice any concerns that they may have. An example of this would be that if both positive and negative feedback are provided by you on a regular basis and not just once a year at a performance review, you will find that this will help foster a more positive relationship with your team, especially if negative feedback is delivered in private and positive feedback is delivered publicly. Your team needs to feel that they have the freedom to also express their feelings in a safe and appropriate atmosphere.
Additionally, using team brainstorming sessions will allow everyone’s ideas to be heard equally rather than simply relying on only top-down decision making only. As a leader you can encourage open dialogue where all team members feel comfortable communicating solutions that they may have a unique perspective on or a strategy they may have seen successful in another office. It can sometimes very fruitful to find the “third” solution. The “third” solution lies somewhere in between two different ideas that may fill a gap in the office. This can be very effective in team building as well.
If you feel that your team still isn’t connecting, you may want to find ways for them to connect outside of the office on a social basis which would then spill over into the office. This may be a group hike, an “escape room”, or some other activity that interests your team. Common social experiences are a proven way to connect team members.
In conclusion, fostering teamwork especially where it has traditionally been a culture of everyone for themselves requires intentional effort from the leadership on down the line. If you put some of these tools in place, you will begin to see greater collaboration between team members resulting in improved patient care outcomes across your practice. Getting rid of the “I’s” on your team will benefit the entire practice especially the daily happiness level in the practice.
If you are struggling with this challenge in your office, be sure to connect with a coach, they will help you bring everyone on to the same team.