It was the best of times for Diamond Dental. Inside his bright and pleasant office, a close-knit team ran the most popular law firm in town. Each patient was warmly welcomed. No question remained unanswered and no problem remained unsolved. Diamond Dental had a talented dentist, but his biggest secret was how to inspire his team. Together they provided a level of service that no competitor could match. Forwarding after called or entered forwarding.
Meanwhile, across town, it was the worst of times for Silver Smiles. As the only dental practice in town when it opened more than 30 years ago, it once had a long list of enthusiastic patients. However, as the area has grown over the past 20 years, this once enviable list has shrunk to less than 30% of its former glory. The unfortunate dentist blamed his staff. Unsurprisingly, his staff members blamed him. Disenchanted, none of them stayed in the office longer than a year or two.
People make the difference
If you own a dental practice, you know which of these two businesses you want to emulate. Undoubtedly, having a stable and reliable team of dedicated employees makes you a remarkable success. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: a poorly functioning team weighs heavily on the bottom line and can cause irreparable harm to your business.
When you work in human relations – and all successful dentists do – people are the backbone of your livelihood. This invaluable group not only includes your clientele, but more importantly, your staff. For most entrepreneurs, bringing value to customers is an integral part of their mission: advising them, supporting them, making them happy and you will keep them coming back. The most successful entrepreneurs realize the importance of maintaining these same pillars for their employees, or rather their internal customers.
To put it into perspective, you are only as good as your team. For your practice to thrive, you have no choice but to rely on competent team members. Cultivate a team of experts who cooperate with each other and get along well with you, and your business will become unstoppable.
Also by Mark Murphy
Reach your goals now rather than later
As a dentist, you are not only adept at observing the health of your patients, but you are also aware of the overall health of your business. You know when something is wrong. And that may shock you, but your employees also notice when something is wrong. When they sense problems, no opportunity for growth, or no chance for a raise, they leave. To avoid an exodus, you must be transparent with them. Let them know where the business is headed and let them know the critical role everyone plays in its success. When your employees see the big picture and understand the importance of their contribution, they will want to give you the maximum.
Find and keep “A” people
Good help can indeed be hard to come by, but when you know what you’re looking for in an “A” employee, you’re more likely to identify them and bring them into the fold. You need smart people with excellent interpersonal skills and a high degree of common sense. In a perfect world, everyone would exhibit these traits. But, in reality, it’s an uphill race to find them, hire them, and keep them. Therefore, whenever you come across one of these wonderful rarities, realize their potential importance to your success.
If you’ve hired someone who isn’t quite right, work with them and offer encouragement for a short time. Very often, when they are not suitable for the position, they choose to leave. In other cases, you may need to ask them to leave. Be aware that there are limits to how long you have to tolerate poor performance. Don’t let bad artists stay too long. It’s not fair to people who are well. The last thing you want to do is hurt morale by forcing top performers to take over for underperformers.
Maybe you want to elevate your employees to new heights. Foster an environment where employees know they can engage with you one-on-one to add value to the business. Some people might have well-meaning intentions. They give their all, but their performance is biased. A direct conversation can remove all the mystery. Get them to channel their energy towards a bigger goal and your whole operation will become more efficient.
Plus, when someone wants to improve their career with your company, they know they can ask you for advice. Naturally, you want to encourage them to keep growing. No matter how proficient someone becomes, there is always another level. Instill this mantra and you will all grow together. A small investment in training and development can yield dramatic returns.
The time will come when your star employees will ask for pay raises or bonuses. Be clear with your criteria, and such meetings will turn into wonderful opportunities. If you are upfront, your employees will rise to the occasion and know exactly what is expected of them. They need to know how their performance will be judged and rewarded.
While every company has a boss who runs the show, within that show is a team of essential performers, each in charge of their own destiny. When their vision aligns with yours and they see opportunity where you see opportunity, everyone thrives. Whether this is the best or the worst of times for your business largely depends on the success and continued growth of your people.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the March 2022 print edition of Dental economy magazine. Dentists in North America can take advantage of a free print subscription. Register here.