Be a Better Leader in Your Dental Practice

Being the perfect leader requires you to make important decisions and the right choices on the fly whilst also having the trust of the staff that are behind you. When running your own practise, dentists are at a disadvantage compared with other CEOs. The dentist does not only have to be the chief executive of the practise but also the main producer, a situation such as that would be unthinkable in any other company, especially large organisations.

It would be like the CEO of Ford, marketing, designing and also running the factory line whilst running the entire company, this would be impossible to achieve! Dentists spend most of their time worry about the care of their patients and carrying out some of the work themselves, in some cases all of the work.

Due to the high demands of dentistry, they have little to no time at all to lead their practises and also lead their staff like other businesses. Most of the dental leadership is done in the few moments between patients coming and going. Despite this, dentists are often very adept at handling leadership basics like:

  • Recognising when one of their team has done a good job
  • Showing and giving "thank you's" when they are required to boost moral
  • Motivating their staff with incentive programs and other rewards
  • Providing regular feedback which gives opportunity for self improvement
  • Holding meetings to focus on training and customer service

Although the basics are "okay", without any proper leadership, the staff often reach a performance plateau which translates into financial plateau for the entire practise. Dentists need staff that are motivated and keep their eye on the ball to take the practise to the next level instead of just "getting by". Dentists have very little time to train staff properly which is why that is one of the main reasons practises fail to reach full potential.

Some tips and pointers

Let's run through some quick tips and pointers to get you climbing to that full potential that your practise should be, whether you already run a practise or thinking of starting one, this is for everybody!

  • Hire The Best – This is obviously rule number one, I know of quite a few dentists that try to save on money by hiring those that are not quite fully trained or have poor customer skill-sets. When hiring, look into every area of their expertise and also interview them properly and get a feel for them as a person.
  • Feedback – Feedback is one of the most important assets any business can have, not only from the customers themselves but also insider feedback within the company is required. Do not be scared to supply feedback when you feel something could be improved, staff will appreciate it and start working to improve their mistakes, this will make for a much more productive environment.
  • Your Vision – Effective leaders have visions of where they would like to be and can see how to achieve their goals. There are no milestones when it comes to envisioning the future of your dental practise, the world is your oyster, you will only get out what you put in. If you let standards slip, staff will also lose focus and morale will plummet.
  • Culture-Build a culture within your dental practise, is it fun? Low key? Elegant? If you stick with one culture and follow it the staff will be more happy and much more productive and most importantly it will keep clients coming back, many people are scared of the dentists as it is so this will also lighten the mood for them if there is a good feel to the practise. For example I know of a dental practise that is aimed at children where it is cartoon themed and fun, it puts children at ease!
  • Affecting Patients-With every decision you make of course you need to have staff in mind but you should always keep in mind and ask yourself "How will this affect my patients?". Customers are always number one priority for any business owner and more so for the dental industry as it is their smiles and pearly whites you will be dealing with, when dealing with something that is cosmetic, every choice you make you must have them in mind.

A lot of dental assistants do dream of owning their own practise once they pass final exams, though dealing with teeth is just part of the job, there is a lot more to it than they think. Even dentists that have had their own practices for many years need that little bit of education in the leadership sector, after all if staff are not happy, customers won’t be and there will be just your average dental practise or none at all.

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