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How to Appreciate, Motivate and Retain Your Dental Team

Dec 14, 2022

Compensation is merely one motivation (albeit an important one). But what about appreciation?

How you appreciate, motivate and retain your dental team is among the keys to a productive and profitable dental practice.

Perhaps the greater challenge you face as a dentist or clinical professional isn’t applying the countless hours of dental training you invested in. The added test of your skills likely has a lot to do with managing a dental practiceand the team you’ve assembled.

In terms of assets, your dental team is the “face” of your practice. Patients schedule for their oral health but they often stay loyal to your practice because of your staff and the patient experience they help provide.

Keeping them motivated, equipped and appreciated protects an essential asset of your patient care.

The thing about team morale

Dental practice management has many priorities. Team morale is tops among them because it plays a major role in your overall success.

”The academy of Dental CPAs recognizes that poor team morale can directly impact your patient care and productivity.

Each of your team members has a unique set of skills and brings something different to your team. By focusing on these unique aspects, you’ll be able to not only structure your team to its best advantage, but your team will know that you see them, their skills and appreciate the positive impact they have on the overall practice.” 1

A Gallup study revealed that low morale occurs when team members feel under-appreciated or not recognized for their work.

Gallup also discovered:

”…that only one in three employees in the United States feel recognized and appreciated for their work in the past seven days.

Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.” 2

Hopefully, that’s adequate motivation to pause and evaluate your dental team’s current morale. And to take a hard look at how you can increase your appreciation for them.

How to appreciate, motivate and retain your dental team

Give them “delayed” appreciation

The challenge of appreciating your team members typically involves what you say. But there’s another (occasionally ignored) aspect…

”When” you share your appreciation!

That’s why there’s value in “delaying” an appreciative moment. Think of it as you would pausing for effect in a conversation.

The “pause,” while being interpreted a variety of ways, can actually increase the sincerity of your appreciation.

  • Start with a thank-you. Saying “thanks” sets the tone.
  • Delay long enough to consider how you can be more specific with your appreciative “thank-you” before circling back.
  • Attach appreciation to the actions, motives and intuition showed through a team member’s effort.
  • Know your team members individually so you can provide appreciation tailored to them.

A slight delay gives you more time to consider how you can make your appreciation more meaningful (and sincere).

Provide them detailed motivation

This is the difference between telling a team member they did a “good job” and attaching a specific action to it. For example, you could provide a motivating appreciation such as,

“You did a good job with (patient’s name) when you …

  • Said …
  • Did …
  • Etc. …

Specify your motivation in the same way you personalize your appreciation. There’s power in noticing those extra-mile efforts a team member makes in the daily routines associated with your patient care and patient engagement.

What’s positively and specifically acknowledged has a higher potential to be repeated. Good team habits form around the specific recognition of their performance.

And those recognized habits could naturally impact your patient experience.

Retain them through empowerment

Job descriptions and employee manuals can help keep everyone in their lane and in sync. But an empowered team member is given the opportunity to contribute something of value inside (and outside) of their role.

  • Instill a stakeholder mindset in your team through consistent opportunities where they can share their input.
  • Welcome and ask for ideas, insights and opinions during problem-solving sessions in team meetings.
  • Empower a team member to seek solutions and the freedom to implement them.

It’s no accident that team members who feel empowered stick around. Team retention has the potential to improve as a result of trusting your team with ideas and solutions.

Team appreciation and motivation is also shown through how you equip them to fulfill their roles. Check out the following team-related resources:

You’re in This Together, So Why Not Share Dental Practice Analytics With Your Team?

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