As we have discussed previously in this space, possibly the most difficult challenge facing every dentist involves managing staff. Specifically, the challenge is addressing this simple reality: your assistants and your office staff simply are not as motivated as you. Now don’t take that the wrong way—it’s not a bad thing. I am not suggesting that your team is lazy and unmotivated.
Your livelihood, your income, depends on keeping current patients happy and bringing in more business. More patients mean more revenue for you to build your practice and your retirement fund. Your team, on the other hand, is working primarily for a paycheck. They get paid every two weeks whether you bring in new patients or not, right? Bringing in more business doesn’t necessarily mean more money—and losing patients doesn’t mean less, right? In fact, in the eyes of some staff, growing your practice simply means more work for your team.
Why would they want that? Simple answer: they don’t, and that’s why they aren’t motivated in the same way that you are.
It boils down to a very simple fact: your goals (to grow your practice, to bring in more business, to deliver exceptional service) are not in total alignment with the goals of your team.
That’s the challenge—and there are two common mistakes that dentists make in addressing it.
The first is to ignore the issue. Dentists that go this route say things like “they’re doing the best they can” or “let’s just keep things the way they’ve always been.” These standards that are far too low, but are correct on one count—if they don’t expect better performance, they won’t get it.
The second common response is anger and frustration with staff. This leads to ranting, raving, and berating. And it rarely works for any sustained period of time. Fear may be a good short-term motivator, but it doesn’t work in the long run.
The correct response to the challenge of staff motivation isn’t to ignore the issue, and it isn’t losing your temper with your team.
The correct response is to find a way to align your goals with those of your staff. Give them an incentive to work towards your goals.
There are plenty of ways to do this—below are just a few of them.
1) Create strict standards for accountability. When your team feels that they simply need to show up in order to get paid, they are rarely going to do anything more than show up. Define standards for each team member, and hold them directly accountable.
2) Offer bonuses based on practice growth. These bonuses can be financial, but they don’t have to be. Whether it’s extra time off or more flexibility in terms of scheduling, find a way to reward your staff when your practice grows.
3) Keep the work environment fresh. For many staff members, repetition can make going to work each day a dull proposition. Find ways to change things up—assign new projects and new responsibilities, change up the office décor, schedule a team outing.
When the goals of your team align with your goals for your practice, you’ll get your team’s best efforts. It really is that simple. Contact me today to learn more about accomplishing this!