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7 Ways to Motivate the Team - Less Drama, More Dentistry
  1. Praise Good Behavior Regularly to Motivate Productive Team Members. It is easy to spot bad behavior, but most people in a dental office at any given time are doing a good job. When you are looking for problems, it is possible to overlook the people who are working in the trenches and keeping the office humming. Notice good behavior and comment on it. Recognition is a great motivator.
  2. Get the Doctor On Board the Praise Train. Team meetings should not devolve into gripe sessions. Find ways to praise people in meetings and make sure the doctor takes an active part. When the doctor notices, everyone notices.
  3. Shut Down Gossip. What would you do if a team member started smoking in your office? You would no doubt shut down that behavior on the spot. You need to establish and enforce a no gossip zone. It is just as important as a no smoking zone because gossip is nasty habit that can destroy a practice.
  4. Confront the Malcontents and Slackers. You can be diplomatic or direct, but you cannot let complaining and unproductive workers slide by without calling them out. They will either get the message and improve, leave the office, or be asked to leave. The morale of everyone else cannot be dragged down by one or two people.
  5. Put the Whiners to Work on Solutions. A great way to quell a whiner is to ask for a written list of suggestions. Ask them to include ideas for implementation, a timeline, and a budget if their suggestions will cost money. Discuss their proposal at a team meeting. It’s likely that some constructive suggestions will come out of the meeting.
  6. Reward the Team. People play slot machines for hours because they never know when the machine will pay off. “Random interval reinforcement” is a powerful motivator. Do the unexpected: everyone gets off an hour early one day; lunch is catered in once in a while courtesy of the practice; have a party to celebrate a productive quarter, etc. Break up the routine and give everyone a reason to thank you and congratulate each other on a job well done.
  7. Use the “Broken Windows” Approach. There is a philosophy in law enforcement that says that the police should respond to minor crimes (such as someone throwing rocks and breaking windows in an abandoned building) to prevent major crimes from happening later. In every dental office, there are customer service standards. When one small standard is not observed, the bar drops just a little lower. Over time, the practice is no longer distinguished by first-class service. If, for example, every new patient is supposed to receive a hand-written thank-you note after the first appointment, stay on top of that protocol, lest you go down the slippery slope and find more egregious problems later.

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