Working Together as a Team

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What do you as dentists or practice managers do to facilitate your team working together? What are you doing to create a positive culture within your team? Communication is the biggest factor in creating a cohesive, unified team that works with one another.   

As we all know, communication comes in various forms. There’s verbal, nonverbal, written and so on. Every team also has a variety of personalities, which means communication may be received differently. The delivery of verbal communication may be perceived very differently by each individual based on their personality. Most of the teams I work with have taken some form of a personality test. If they have not, I always have them complete a disc profile test. This is a huge asset to any team because it helps each team member understand one another better, which also helps us understand how we need to communicate with each person differently. Furthermore, if we understand what the different personality types are, we better understand how to communicate with our patients based on their personality type. If your team has not taken any type of personality test, I would highly encourage you to do this at your next team meeting. You will be amazed at how much stronger your team’s communication with one another will be once they understand one another better!

Does your practice ever take the time for the entire team to go out and participate in teambuilding exercises? We spend 90 percent of our waking hours with the people we work with, and having strong relationships with those individuals is key to a positive culture. A huge way to keep your team connected and supportive of one another is to do fun team-building exercises outside of the office. Go to dinner together, go to an escape room where you have to work as a team or go on a retreat – anything that supports them spending time with one another and bonding as a unit outside of the office. This quality time together as a team promotes a healthy atmosphere at work where everyone wants to help one another and support one another.

Do you have weekly or monthly team meetings? How do you run these team meetings? Do you have ground rules laid so everyone feels heard? Do you have a plan in place in the event everyone does not agree on a decision?  There should always be ground rules for any meeting. Everyone should be on time, and everyone should be prepared so you can stay focused and on task with your agenda. When addressing issues within the office, your meeting should be a safe space where all team members feel free to speak openly and honestly. If a decision must be made and not everyone agrees, who’s going to make the final call? These are important ground rules for this meeting. If it’s the dentist, then the dentist makes the final call. If it is the office manager, then they will make the final decision. These are ground rules we need to know prior to the meeting so that we can stay on task and have a productive meeting. When working through problems, we should consider each team member’s ideas to resolve them. Always encourage brainstorming amongst your team! The team will have to support any decision made, so the more involved they are in the decision, the more committed they are to follow through.

Having a healthy team culture is key to the success of any practice. I would highly encourage any office to perform a personality profile for each member of the team and discuss it at a team meeting. I would also recommend team outings and team builders that are fun and not all work-driven. A team that is invested in one another personally and professionally will go above and beyond. 

Lastly, you should have team meetings at least once a month. Make sure you have ground rules laid so that everyone feels heard, feels safe to speak up, brainstorms together and reaches a final decision. If you have ground rules in place, you will stay on task, your meeting will be successful, and you’ll have a team that participates and is invested in the success of one another and the practice!

Sherri Merritt

Sherri Merritt

Dental Consultant & Trainer

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