AADOM News |5 min read

Tips for Changing Your Company’s Culture

Jennifer Ferguson, FAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

What’s the attitude in your office like? How about its culture?

Most of us have an immediate answer – good, bad, or indifferent.

Is it the culture you desire, or one you wish you could change? Do you manage the team of your dreams, or the one nightmares are made of?

We all know both exist.

As managers, we’re able to influence and create the changes we wish to see in our culture and have the responsibility to protect them.

Do you manage a team with clear expectations?

Is everyone working towards the same goal? Does the team have an understanding of the doctor’s mission: the “why”?

Is your team working together to create a positive environment? Are they challenging each other to be better than the day before?

Maybe you work in a practice with no clear direction, lacking systems and goals. An office where there are no set standards for acceptable behavior and the practice is filled with gossip and drama. The practice spends its time moving, just not forward.

As managers, we know things change. People, our priorities, schedules, and daily plans all change. However, our values don’t, nor do our expectations or culture.

We don’t reach a goal by accident but through small decisions (or indecisions) every day that lead us to our future. Through vision, intention, and evaluation, you’re able to have a more predictable outcome.

Purposeful change

There are key components to having and maintaining the culture you desire.

  • Start by meeting with your dentist and your team to discuss your mission or vision.
  • Talk about the culture you would like to foster.
  • Identify the professional characteristics and brainstorm which ones you and your team see as critical to your team’s success.
  • Establish your “must-haves” and “non-negotiables.”
  • Consider your compatibility and skill factors.
  • Set clearly defined job descriptions.
  • Discuss your goals and identify how success will be measured.
  • Provide performance and system reviews to be sure everyone is in alignment.

Sometimes you may have to change, pivot, and refocus. Establish a starting point and work your way to where you should be. Eventually, you will get there. You can now lead by example.

Setting examples through leadership

How do you show up for your team each day?

Although doctors play a role in establishing office procedures, it’s the office manager who sets the tone.

If you arrive ill-tempered, the team can sense it and will follow your lead. The change in the air is different; it causes the team to feel insecure. They don’t know what to expect; your team is likely not to engage, not be creative, nor provide the best service to patients. They only want to make it through the day and leave as quickly as possible.

However, the opposite could also be true.

When you arrive with a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and welcome your team with a “Good morning,” they become more engaged and cheerful. They’re more productive because their day is predictable, and more importantly, all are conducting themselves in a manner that’s in alignment with the culture of the practice.

When we walk through the door each day, all arrive ready to preserve the culture we agreed was a priority for our success.

A time for self-reflection

Do you show up for yourself every day like you show up for your team? Do you give to others first and put yourself second?

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, “What is my attitude? What is my personal culture?”

Do you live the life of your dreams or fall short of your personal expectations?

Although both exist, it’s important to remember you have the ability to create the changes you wish to see in yourself and the ability to develop the personal culture you want to live by.

Does your personal culture have clear expectations?

Do you have a zest for life? Do you take care of yourself? Do you fill your own cup first?

Do you know your “why,” and are you where you want to be?

Perhaps you walk or exercise each day to keep your body moving.

Do you read to keep your mind sharp? Do you focus your mindset on ways to improve?

You may have no clear goals. Maybe you wake up unhappy, wishing you could just stay in bed.

Your focus is on all the things you “have to do” instead of the things you “want to do.”

It starts with YOU

As in the dental office, there are key components to having and maintaining the personal culture you desire.

  • Brainstorm with yourself to identify the personal characteristics you would like to acquire or improve.
  • Identify your goals and motives, your “must-haves,” and non-negotiables.
  • Clearly define your vision to align both habits and behaviors to achieve your goals.

What does success look like for you? Do you have the tools you need to be successful?

Manage your expectations, be flexible. You may have to revise how you do things and reorganize priorities to make your vision possible.

Success does not maintain itself at home or in the office. It requires constant attention.

To get where you want to go, create habits that’ll help you purposely reach your goal. Where you focus, you will go!

Meet the Author

Jennifer Ferguson outside in blue top with name badgeJennifer Ferguson, FAADOM began her career in dentistry when her family dentist approached her about working in his practice. She never looked back and has held the role of office manager for over 17 years.

Jennifer prides herself on a “growth-based” approach to management, focusing on the team as a whole while identifying goals for individual team members.

In September 2021, Jennifer was inducted into the 2021 AADOM Class of Fellows.

Outside of dentistry, she combines her love for creativity and vintage pieces by operating a salvaged furniture business (Rural Pieces).


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