Great Teamwork in Dentistry – It Takes “Eight Ates”
Successful teamwork in dentistry requires building solid relationships, having outstanding, constant communication, doing many ordinary things extraordinarily well, paying attention to fine details and then, add some more communication.
During a workshop that I gave in Cancun, Mexico, I asked the participants to communicate what they thought the four most important words would be for an effective, peak performing team to use.
A bold and humorous doctor near the back of the room yelled out “Get Back To Work!” Above the laughter, a young team member bellowed back at him, “When Is My Raise?”
Naturally, we had a fair amount of fun hearing all the four-word combinations that were creatively put together.
The four words that I chose were “WHAT DO YOU THINK?”
Without seeking this cooperative information from fellow teammates, we’re working individually rather than collectively. The eight steps to being a great team are what I like to call the Eight Ates of Being Great.
Step One is to Initiate a Team
Doctors can’t do it alone!
How many people make a team? How many do YOU need? What do you envision when you think of the word TEAM?
Step Two is to Locate
Where do we find the quality people to form this award-winning team? Ads, Internet, agencies?
Quality people usually surround themselves with quality people. Letting your team, your colleagues, and even your patients/parents know that you are looking for top-notch people can often be your best bet at finding just that.
They all have friends and acquaintances, and word of mouth can prove to be an excellent recruiting method. If people in your dental management community know that you are at the top of your field, they will likely want to be a part of what they see and hear.
Step Three is to JUST DO IT
Fulfill your vision and make your words and your actions consistent with that vision. In other words, do exactly what you said you would – “walk the talk”.
If you said you are only going to hire certain quality types of team players, then do not compromise yourself by bringing on Attitude Annie just because she is skilled clinically.
Make a Mission Statement…Opens in a new tab to article about writing mission statements… that is REAL and written by the TEAM. Then Live It!
Step Four is to Educate
Go to dental seminars, bring in consultants to train and fine-tune, listen to tapes, read the books, network with colleagues, seek out dental manager resources with AADOM. Attend your local, regional and national meetings. Provide in-office cross-training sessions, have each team member write their job description, keep it current.
Never stop the Yearning for Learning!
Step Five is to Cooperate
Two rules to apply: the Golden Rule, and the Platinum Rule.
Both help you play nicely in the dental sandbox, an absolute must for teamwork in dentistry.
Step Six is to Communicate
Use constant discussion throughout the day: a good “morning huddle” to set the tone for the day, casual lunch meetings, regular team meetings and annual one- to two- day retreats.
These retreats should often be away from the practice to allow creative juices to flow, thoughts and ideas to be well-expressed, and to provide social team time to better know each other.
Step Seven is to Motivate
By setting goals together, your team will be far more likely to work towards those goals than if the goals are determined by the doctor alone, by an outside source, or by having none at all!
I am constantly reminded by teams that they are ALL motivated by appreciation. The verbal, sincere “thank you” remains the number one incentive to do better and achieve more.
Trips to the shopping mall or the spa and money in the hand are always appreciated motivators… yet they still are, and I hope will always be, second to the pat on the back; the praise in public; and the sincere kind word.
Step Eight is to Celebrate
Wow! That’s the easy one.
Take time out to acknowledge accomplishments, big and small. Waiting for the end of the year to celebrate statistics can be a de-motivator, so remember all along the way to be happy about and proud of the little steps that bring you to the larger goal of teamwork in dentistry.
Hearing compliments, making happy patients, seeing every patient on time, ALL getting out at 5pm together, birthdays, anniversaries of employment—the little things along the journey that make you want to come back tomorrow.
These can be the BEST things to cheer about and they are the reason I have spent now 50 years in this profession. What a ride!
Meet the Author
Rosemary Bray spent more than 30 years employed in the dental profession, both in clinical and administrative roles, with experience in general dentistry, periodontics, as well as her last 17 years in orthodontics, all in San Diego!
She left her quality, fun orthodontic practice in 1998 to begin her self-employment as a speaker and consultant in orthodontics and dentistry, and she is now proudly celebrating her 50th anniversary in teeth!
She has lectured and worked on every continent except Antarctica (penguins must not care about teeth) and in all 50 U.S. states, on behalf of the AAO, orthodontic companies, numerous state and local dental societies, ortho and dental study groups, as well as in-office consulting for her own workshops and seminars. She is the founder of the very popular annual Ortho Camp seminar on the beaches of Mexico, which came to a terrific happy conclusion in Cancun after 12 successful years!
She was very honored to have been the Starr Program Co-Chair for the AAO Annual Session in Chicago in 2011, and has been an AAO speaker for 25 consecutive years. She has spoken at many prestigious dental meetings, including numerous times at the Hinman, Chicago Mid-Winter, Star of the North and of the South, the AAPD, the Yankee Dental, the CDA and the ADA.
Teeth have taken her around the world to teach. She has truly “been there and done that” in her orthodontic and dental career!