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practice leadership

Did you know that 94% of business leaders and 88% of employees believe a strong workplace culture is key to business success? If you're at the helm of a growing dental office, you can't afford to miss this critical part of the conversation. 

A key tenet of practice leadership is creating an environment that caters to the needs of your employees and patients alike. It means fortifying your team members in every aspect of their careers, giving them the tools they need to work collaboratively and grow independently. 

Amid the busyness of everyday office life, cultivating this type of space isn't always easy. Yet, neglecting it can waylay even your best-laid plans for long-term dental practice growth and success. Today, we're sharing a few tips to help you build and sustain a positive team culture that improves employee morale, drives productivity, and bolsters your reputation. 

1. Get to Know Your Team Members

You can't effectively lead your dental team if you only see them as 9-to-5 employees. Take the time to build meaningful workplace relationships with your employees, through both formal events and informal conversations.

Learn what they do on the weekends, what their hobbies include, and what goals they've set for themselves. Then, share the same about yourself. Talk about both work-related and non-work-related topics, and share experiences with one another. 

Sometimes, this may mean attending pre-scheduled, team-building events together. Other times, it may mean taking five minutes in the morning to catch up on your co-worker's latest news, family update, or vacation photos. 

One study found that employee disconnection costs U.S. companies up to $406 billion each year. On the other hand, employees who feel a sense of high-level belonging at work boast lower turnover rates, improvements in job performance, and fewer sick days. 

Increasingly, it's the employees themselves who are seeking out and creating this type of culture. Another report found that when weighing their job prospects 77% consider colleague connection the top factor in their search. Meanwhile, salary came in eighth on the list. 

2. Source Your Data Directly

Gossip has no place in dental practice management. The quickest way to breed resentment and frustration is to play into the drama that can sometimes surround an office. This happens in nearly every industry, and the dental sector isn't immune. 

Heresay is always damaging, especially if it comes from a supervisor. Not only can it ruin your relationship with the party in question but it could also spark fear among your employees that they'll be the next target.

You need to earn and keep the trust of your dental team, and you simply can't get there by feeding the rumor mill. If you need to clarify a point with a team member, go to that person directly. Don't rely on any type of information sourced from an outside third party.

Take the same approach if an issue or conflict occurs. Only discuss the matter with those directly involved, and encourage them to be equally discreet. This helps create a culture of honesty and integrity, which means your employees are more likely to come to you again if they run into a problem. 

3. Set the Example

As a dental team leader, remember that you're the one who sets the tone for your workplace culture. If your employees see you acting in a way that exudes positivity, compassion, and honor, they're more likely to follow suit. At the same time, the opposite also holds true.

Supervisors who exhibit unprofessional behavior shouldn't be surprised to see the same type of activity displayed among their team members. Knowing this, it's smart to invest in tools and resources that can help you build your character and grow your competency. 

This might mean reading books on effective leadership or listening to podcasts on personal growth. While there's a ton of work you can do on your own, nothing beats the power of connection. That's why Burleson Seminars offers a variety of programs that bring our publications and media to life. 

From group coaching calls and one-on-one conversations to weekly updates, these solutions give you the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest and most prolific minds in the field. In addition to learning how to grow your dental practice, you'll also discover ways to build team culture, embrace new trends, and strengthen your reputation. 

With constant access to these new perspectives and points of view, you'll stay engaged and informed, equipped with the tools you need to achieve your own business goals and lead your teams to success.  

4. Attend Training Programs

From webinars and online courses to in-person training sessions, there are several solutions designed to help dental leaders expand their skills, knowledge, and expertise. As part of our dental practice resources, we also offer a variety of in-person and on-demand training programs and partner events for you to consider. 

At these programs, you can meet and learn from experts in the field of dental practice marketing, management, and leadership. Together, you'll discuss some of the biggest issues affecting practice growth, and what they mean for your office. You'll also discover how to set and reach new business goals, and how to take actionable steps to turn your future visions into achievable realities. 

This includes tangible tactics that you can put into practice as soon as you get home. We'll show you how to attract new patients, delight your current ones, and build your local presence -- all while maintaining a team culture that thrives. From new patient marketing to more specific niches like orthodontic marketing, you'll learn strategies to differentiate your services and stand out from the competition. 

At first, you may feel strange taking time away from the office to focus on your own self-growth and professional training. However, the insights you unlock will benefit everyone on your team. You'll come back with a renewed perspective, ready to tackle current challenges and optimize every aspect of your performance. 

5. Invest in Continuing Education

In addition to your own education, it's equally important to remind your dental team employees that their long-term growth matters. One of the easiest ways to do so is to encourage them to participate in events, seminars, and courses that expand their knowledge and sharpen their skill sets. 

When you invest in your employees' continuing education, it shows that you recognize and value their long-term potential. You're not just interested in what they'll achieve in the few hours they're working each day. Rather, you want to see them grow as individuals and professionals, even if that means they won't always work in the same role or even in your same office. 

There are myriad professional studies that back up the importance of continued training. In fact, one report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shared the following statistics on the importance of career and skills development: 

  • 68% of workers will stay with their employer throughout their career if their employer upskills them
  • 65% of workers will stay with their employer throughout their career if their employer reskills them
  • 52% of workers believe they need to learn new skills within the next year to continue in their current career
  • 49% of workers want to develop their professional skills but don't know where to begin
  • 46% of workers say they aren't as skilled as they need to be
  • 29% of workers don't feel optimistic about the opportunities they have for training, upskilling, or skills development

Do you see the opportunity?

Your dental employees could share these same sentiments. Withholding new opportunities from them might feel like the only way to retain their talent, but it doesn't serve your team in the long run. To foster growth and build a culture of innovation, discovery, and ingenuity, you need to invest in your employees and expand their collective knowledge. 

6. Hire Wisely

Any time you're ready to expand your dental team and add someone new to the group, don't make this decision hastily. No, you don't want to let a skills gap sit empty for too long. Yet, you also don't want to rush and hire someone who won't be the right fit. 

In addition to checking credentials and holding interviews, it can also be helpful to invite potential hires to work in your dental office and shadow your employees for a few days. This gives them the opportunity to learn the ropes and see how you do things. It also gives your current team a chance to gauge how future interactions might go. 

If there's tension from the start, consider this a red flag. Depending on the situation, you can even take a collaborative hiring approach and invite your employees to share feedback on how the shadowing experience went. The person you bring on board will be interacting with your team on a daily basis, and it's worth taking the time to find the ideal addition. 

Team Culture Starts With Effective Practice Leadership

Your approach to dental practice leadership will set the tone for your workplace, affecting everyone who walks through your doors. By investing in tools and resources that strengthen your teams from the inside out, you can build the type of team culture that motivates and inspires your employees to work hard and collaborate well. 

Want to unlock more secrets of success? 

As one of the most esteemed professionals in the dental field, Dustin Burleson shares his industry knowledge with more than 4,000 professional practice owners around the world. To access these insights and learn about upcoming training opportunities, subscribe today!

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