How to Spark Passion in Your Team

Aubrey Gralapp, FAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM Authors"

Have you ever watched a member of your team and identified something special about them but still didn’t see the performance you expected?

At times, such challenges can be one of the most frustrating things for a dental office manager.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that we as managers are hungry to learn and grow by nature. We passionately search out new information and resources.

Some of the people we lead may not even realize what they’re missing, and they may just know something is missing.

It’s our duty to ignite the spark and show them the way.

Ideas to promote teamwork

Here are some steps to walk your team through an exercise that helps them find ways outside of the office to grow and excite themselves about their passions.

1. Have a group discussion with your team

Start with something personal, such as a story about your own journey and passion or a mentor from the past, then bring it back to them.

Say, “I want to support you on your own journey,” and really mean it.

Then point the needle in the right direction.

Many of your team members aren’t even aware of all the resources available to them. Especially for those new to the industry, there are many opportunities to learn and grow outside of the normal local dental meeting.

Next, do some research for your team.

Break it down by department (hygiene, assistants, and administration) and find a few resources for each.

These can be whatever you find most relevant to your team and area. Look into resources like podcasts, books, associations, study clubs, online CEs… the sky’s the limit.

Open their eyes to what is possible and available to them.

2. Put that energy to work

Ask the team to take a certain amount of time to independently locate resources that can help them grow and advance their vision.

You can have them write it down on a sheet of paper or make a worksheet for them to use.

After they’ve had time to think about and look up things that excite them, take a moment to gather by department or all together. Encourage everyone to share the things they found and what excited them most about each opportunity.

Let them be open and excite each other, just direct their positive energy!

After everyone has finished sharing their excitement for growth and opportunity, have them individually think about what that could mean for them personally.

Ask them to write at the bottom of their sheet about how these personal growth opportunities could change their careers, and in turn, what it would mean for their personal life.

After they complete the sheet, have everyone turn them in so that you can follow up on their progress within the next month.

The goal of this part of the exercise is to get a glimpse into what the individual team members’ overall goals are.

How excited are they about what they do?

This information will give you a foundation and direction for the next step.

3. Plan individual meetings to follow up on their progress

When you sit down to follow up a month later, bring out their sheet and check on their progress over the last month.

Some team members will be excited and ready to share what they’ve learned. That’s great; just match their excitement and encourage them to aim even higher.

If you have a team member that’s more reserved and isn’t really talking to you about their growth, I would try saying something like, “I see here you looked up a podcast about dental insurance. Is that something you are interested in learning about?” And then find out their reason for being interested in that subject.

You could find out about something they’re interested in that otherwise had no idea they wanted to do. Then, give them some other resources related to that topic, and see where they take it.

It’s possible they could fill a needed void on your team, and you didn’t even know it.

Always remember to ask the team member how you can support them on their journey of personal growth. I would encourage you to have more than just one individual meeting to keep the energy growing.

4. Stay on point

The main goal of this exercise is to show your team how invested you are in their individual success. Because in the end, each team member being successful makes the practice successful.

You’ll have members of the team that take their ideas and run with them. There will be others that need more encouragement.

It’s important that as managers, we show everyone that we notice their improvement and share our excitement for them.

This spark could be the start of an exciting journey. It’s fulfilling to watch growth happen in the people you’re leading, both for them and for you. Enjoy!

Meet the Author

Aubrey Gralapp wearing a gray lace top, pearl earrings, and black framed glassesAubrey’s career in dentistry began almost 20 years ago as a dental assistant. She is now the operations manager for Northview Family Dental, a large practice with three doctors and 25 team members.

She is also president and one of the founding members of the Northeast Washington AADOM Chapter… This text opens a new tab to the chapter’s website….

In 2018, she was honored to receive her FAADOM. Aubrey is incredibly passionate about sharing knowledge and experience with both clinical and administrative team members.

Away from work, she loves living in the country with her husband, two children, and their animals.



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