Navigating the Challenges of Team Building in Dental Practice Management with Irene Iancu RRDH

Host: Dr. Tanya Sue Maestas
Guest: Irene Iancu RRDH
Edited By: Candy Velez CRDH

Building and managing a dental practice team encompasses many challenges, learning opportunities, and moments of unexpected growth. Irene Iancu, a seasoned dental professional and restorative hygienist, shares her journey and the lessons learned in creating a dynamic team within her practice.

This article delves into the essential strategies and insights for fostering a cohesive, empowered team that can drive a dental practice to new heights, drawing from a rich conversation with Irene Iancu.

Key Takeaways

  • The Importance of Diversity in Team Composition: Emphasizing the need for a team with varied skills and perspectives.
  • Evolution in Hiring Strategies: Shifting from traditional hiring practices to more nuanced approaches that value team chemistry and future growth.
  • Empowerment and Leadership Development: Encouraging a culture where team members feel valued and entrusted with significant responsibilities.

Hiring for Diversity, Not Clones: Finding the Right Team Balance

The desire to hire people who mirror our own qualities is a common inclination, as Irene points out in the struggle to build her dental team. The danger in searching for employees just like us is that it can lead to a homogeneous environment where creativity and growth are stifled due to a lack of diverse perspectives. Irene learned that instead of looking for individuals who checked every box on her list, she needed a team with diverse ways of thinking and working.

“I was interviewing incorrectly. I was looking for the wrong things and trying to hire the best person for the job.”  

Irene reflects, emphasizing the importance of assembling a team where diverse talents and thought processes can thrive together. One poignant example Irene shares involves adjusting her management style to better suit the individual strengths of her team members. This shift from a uniform approach to a more personalized strategy which allowed her team to excel in their roles, fostering a productive and harmonious work environment.

Teaching Old Hiring Practices New Tricks

Understanding Employee Lifecycle

Learning that the “best” hire may not equate to long-term tenure was an eye-opening realization for Irene. She recounts hiring excellent performers who later left to pursue further education, prompting her to acknowledge this cycle as a normal part of employee development. 

“Sometimes the best people you’re going to find are the ones that are probably going to leave you one day.”

A significant realization for Irene was recognizing the natural cycle of employee growth and turnover.

“I realized that person isn’t going to be around forever because their hopes and dreams are going to take them away.”

She notes, highlighting the importance of preparing for and embracing this inevitability as part of managing a dynamic team.

Outsourcing the Hiring Process

Irene shares the lessons learned from stepping back from direct involvement in hiring, ultimately acknowledging that inviting external perspectives can lead to more balanced and unexpected team complements. She describes how empowering her office manager to make hiring decisions led to finding employees who excelled beyond expectations. Delegating this responsibility allowed Irene to focus on her restorative hygienist program, while her practice continued to thrive under the guidance of her team. By re-evaluating her role, she reflects on how relinquishing control can be beneficial: 

“The office runs so well without me there… I get to let them do what they do best, and then I get to go in there and do what I do best.”

She explains, underscoring the benefits of empowering others within the practice. That is what she got: people making decisions with a business mindset, not making decisions to go through the motions.

“It’s interesting, when you relinquish that power, how much more power people get within the practice to make those decisions on your behalf. And they do it in a way with this passion that they had the final say in a monumental decision that might change your business trajectory.”

Empowering Leadership within Your Team: Managing Expectations, Not People

Irene emphasizes the shift from micromanaging to setting clear expectations and supporting her team’s growth. This approach has cultivated a nurturing environment where team members feel empowered to take initiative and develop leadership skills. Tackling the challenge of management, Irene shifts the focus from managing individuals to managing expectations.

By providing backing and room for employees to grow, she learned that a trusting environment yields surprising results, like the hidden potential in her new dental assistant who was previously overworked and underappreciated at her last job. 

The Influence of Empowerment

Empowering team members has led to a more engaged, innovative, and proactive workforce. Irene shares how giving employees the space to own their responsibilities has transformed the practice’s operations and patient care, leading to a more robust and resilient team dynamic.

By exploring these themes and insights from Irene Iancu, this article sheds light on the nuanced art of team building within the dental industry. Irene’s journey underscores the importance of diversity, adaptability, and empowerment in creating a successful dental practice team. Her experiences offer invaluable lessons for dental professionals and practice owners navigating the complexities of team management and leadership.

Thought Leadership Summary

As we reflect on the insights shared by Irene Iancu, it becomes evident that the landscape of dental practice management is evolving. The traditional paradigms of team building, leadership, and professional development are being redefined through diversity, empowerment, and strategic adaptability. Irene’s experiences and strategies offer a valuable roadmap for dental professionals seeking to navigate these changes with success and resilience.

Looking toward the future, dental practices have the opportunity to become more dynamic, inclusive, and innovative workplaces. By embracing diversity in team composition, we can unlock new levels of creativity and problem-solving. By rethinking hiring practices and embracing the natural cycles of employee growth, we can build teams that are not only skilled but also deeply committed to the practice’s vision. And by fostering a culture of empowerment and leadership development, we can cultivate an environment where every team member can thrive and contribute to the practice’s success.

As we consider the next steps for our practices, let us be inspired by Irene’s journey and the lessons she has shared. It’s time to ask ourselves: How can we apply these insights to enhance our team dynamics? What changes can we implement to foster a more empowering and supportive work culture? And how can we continue to grow as leaders, not just for the benefit of our practices but for the advancement of the dental profession?

The path forward is one of continuous learning, adaptation, and leadership. By taking proactive steps to refine our practice management and team development strategies, we can look forward to a future where our dental practices survive and thrive in an ever-changing industry landscape.

Keep Reading: Conquering the Financial Labyrinth of Dental Practice Ownership: Insights from Irene Iancu RRDH

Irene Iancu

Irene Iancu

Irene Iancu is a passionate and skilled restorative dental hygienist based in Toronto, Canada. With 16 years of experience in the dental field, Irene has developed a diverse set of skills, working in various specialized practices including periodontics, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. As the owner of her own practice, she goes beyond typical dental hygiene duties by also performing restorative work such as direct and indirect restorations. In addition to her clinical work, Irene is active in the dental community as an educator, social media influencer with 30,000 followers, and host of a popular dental podcast. Her journey and expertise have not only shaped her career but have also provided her with a platform to share her knowledge and experiences with a wider audience.