3 ways to avoid the biggest crisis in dentistry

All across the country, dental practices are facing a hiring crisis. Teams are being stretched thin because of openings within the staff directory, and it’s putting pressure on everyone in the practice. They feel the strain … and so does dentistry as a whole.

But what if you could solve a problem before it ever happened? What if you could ensure the team you have is the one you keep? What if you could take steps to ensuring team members don’t leave if they are offered more money at another practice?

Well, let us help you with that. Based on our conversations with team members of all ages and from all parts of the United States, here are three tips to ensure your team members stay happy and stay with you.

Get a feel for their future

Two important questions here. First, what do your team members have for goals and visions of where they want to be one, three, or five years from now? Second, what can you do to help them reach those goals?

By asking these two questions, you get an insight into what they want and how you can play a role in helping them along the journey. Say, for instance, an assistant wants to head to hygiene school. Great. See if there’s a way you can help prepare that assistant for what’s to come and remind him or her that you and your team will answer questions and pledge to help them in their studies. Also, remind that assistant that, when he or she becomes a hygienist, you want to keep him or her as a part of your team.

Ask the questions and get some insight into your team. You might be surprised what a little encouragement and insight can do for a relationship.

Be an open book

Numbers always tell a story in the dental practice, and every member of the team is responsible for some part of the bottom line. Every team member can impact the business of the practice, from ordering smartly to producing at a high level.

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to share the numbers of the business with your team. Make sure everyone knows how the goals for the business are looking, whether that’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. When everyone knows the numbers and they also know what role they play in helping those numbers become what the business needs to be, everyone takes more of an ownership role in the success of the business.

If your practice is hitting its goals, share the success with the team and let them know how they helped make it happen. If the practice is falling short of goals, work with the team on what every member (doctor included) can do to raise those numbers up.

Accountability for success (or lack thereof) is a powerful thing. Make sure every individual understands exactly how he or she fits into the grand plan of the business and its plans moving forward.

Celebrate moments that matter

Sure, it’s nice to acknowledge birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries, but those can often be on a personal level. What are you doing to celebrate the moments that matter in the life cycle of the business?

Call out the hygienist who was hired eight years ago today. Celebrate the front office team who figured out a better idea for the handoff. Tell the assistant “thank you” who kept patients engaged while the doctor finished up a hygiene consultation. 

Little things matter every day, so acknowledge those “attaboy” and “attagirl” moments when people stepped up and made a difference. Not only does it show that people are watching, it also shows that people are caring as well.

Following these three pieces of advice can help bring your team closer together and give every team member a reason to be more invested in their job and career. 

Want even more?

Looking for an even deeper dive into the dynamics of the team? We have two options that can even provide CE credits for watching video conversations.

First, Dr. David Rice and I team up for an hour-long discussion broken into bite-sized pieces that you can find by clicking here and scrolling down on the page. Thanks to our friends at Patterson Dental for making this opportunity a reality.

Second, Dr. Matthew Norton from People+Purpose and I sit down to talk about all of the ways that personalities and communication can make a difference in the relationship between the dentist and team. You can find that discussion here.

Finally, if you are looking to fill an opening in your practice, we have a way to help. We created a completely free and continuously updated partnership with our friends at DentalPost.net where you can search job applicants in your area by clicking here.

Note: “Number 3” by Studio Mohawk is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry

With more than 20 years in the dental publishing industry, Kevin Henry is the former group editorial director for Dental Products Report, managing editor for Dental Economics, and editor-in-chief for DrBicuspid.com. He now serves as the co-founder for IgniteDA, a community designed to empower, enlighten, and educate dental assistants, and as director of marketing for Fortune Management. He has spoken to dental assistants throughout the world, in person and through the Dental Assistant Nation podcast series, reminding them of the important role they play every day in their practice. He is also certified as a DiSC trainer, helping dental practices learn how to understand each other better through personality assessments and training.