Team Training That Makes a Difference

Team training for your dental team.  Everyone talks about it, but how do you do it effectively?  I was in Minnesota recently where I spoke at a study club meeting (fantastic turnout and enthusiasm!) and also had the privilege of doing a dental team training session for Centrasota Oral Surgery.  What a great practice!

Part of the team training and team building involved using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many different personality assessment tools, but the MBTI has withstood the test of time.  It has been validated over many decades.

I asked everyone on the dental team to complete the instrument online prior to the session.  I then compiled the results, compared them to national statistics, and explained what the MBTI reveals.

During the session, we explored preferences—how people see the world, whether they are introverted or extroverted, and how different personality types relate to one another.  The attendees were totally engaged in the process, and we had a number of “aha” moments when team members learned something about themselves and their colleagues.

The MBTI does not measure aptitude or intelligence.  It fact, it does not measure anything, because, strictly speaking, it is not a test.  The instrument identifies preferences.  No one personality type is better than another, but the interaction among types is fascinating and insightful.

One of the most important takeaway messages from the session was specific advice on how to deal with the various types when they are under stress.  If your coworker is totally stressed and having a bad day, what should you do or not do?  By being aware of that person’s type, all team members can learn to deal appropriately with such situations.  The result is more patience, understanding, tolerance, bonding—and, yes, team building.

There is one caveat.  Too often people get information off the Internet about personality differences and jump into discussions without the proper background.  I have been formally trained to administer the MBTI and facilitate meetings.  The MBTI is an amazing tool, but it needs to be used in the right context and with a full explanation so that it is meaningful.

When administered with proper supervision, the MBTI provides insights into people that are useful for a lifetime.  Many attendees in Minnesota left the team training meeting with a new understanding of themselves and their colleagues—and they immediately wanted their spouses and family members to take the instrument.

If you would like more information on how the MBTI can be used as a great dental team building tool, send an e-mail to with MBTI in the subject line.  Whether you have a small or large team, one office or many, the more you learn about how MBTI helps team training, the more you will want to learn.

Role Playing Made Fun and Effective

When it comes to the phrase “role playing,” many dental team members react the way lay people respond when they hear “root canal.”  They do not want any part of it.  Just as modern root canals are often comfortable for patients and the procedure removes the source of their discomfort, role playing can be made fun and effective. What’s the catch?  It has to be done right.

Here are some tips for running a successful role playing session.

  1. One person plays the role of the team member while someone else pretends to be the patient.  The person playing the patient role can offer objections to the cost of treatment or throw up other road blocks, but no one should overplay the part.  Forget the histrionics.  The “patient” can be skeptical but must always be polite and at least somewhat malleable.
  2. Each scenario should be no more than one minute long.
  3. Immediately following the session, ask everyone on the team what the role player did right. There can be no criticism until there is praise.
  4. Next, ask the role player what he or she did right.
  5. Ask the role player a key question: “What could you do next time to improve?”
  6. Other team members can chime in, but they have to be supportive. Example: “I agree that you could have asked more open questions, but you were doing great in the beginning.”
  7. Give the role player a chance for redemption by repeating the same scenario. The person you are training will inevitably do better the second time around.
  8. Ask the entire team for comment on why round two was better.
  9. Ask the person you are training if they felt more comfortable when they had a chance to improve. They will almost always concur because they learned what to say and what not to say.
  10. Have others role play.  When the entire session is done, summarize the learning experience and thank everyone for their cooperation.

As you can see, the goal is not to catch someone doing something wrong, but to reward good behavior and encourage the person being trained to make improvements.  The other team members are not really judges but a cheering section.  People tend to be harder on themselves than they are on other people, so don’t worry about bad behavior going unnoticed.

By role playing in a positive fashion, you will help team members learn to deal with difficult situations in the office in a supportive environment.