3.27.15 imtiaz teamHow do you get your team united behind, and aligned with, your vision and philosophy for the practice? This has been a leading concern among dentists for as long as there have been dental practices. In fact, I spent a good portion of my career addressing this very issue in one way or another. It seems like a complicated problem because you are talking about influencing a group of people. And people, by nature, are complicated.

The surprising truth, though, is that it is not that complicated to achieve effective team alignment. All it takes is a focused plan and about an hour a week. The trick is to make that hour really count.

Often I will hear about practices that implement weekly team meetings in an effort to create solidarity, but too often these meetings are free-form affairs that end up turning into aimless social events, or worse, finger-pointing gripe sessions.

But what if you spent one hour a week on a specific educational focus? What if you took a subject in our online selection of courses, for example, and went deep with it? Sometimes you will watch and learn together. Sometimes you will assign team members a course to review and present. Sometimes you will split into teams and role-play scenarios.

But here’s the important thing: you must, as a team, master the details of one topic – communicating hygiene needs, delivering the ideal new patient experience, etc. – before you move on the next. It takes time to ingrain new habits, after all. And remember that “new look at the domino effect” I wrote about recently, where pushing over one domino sets you up to tackle another one 50 percent bigger? This is how you make that happen – by taking the time to really conquer one issue to the point where it gives you the strength to move forward with powerful momentum.

Imagine, for example, that over the course of a year’s worth of meetings, you and the team completely internalize eight new habits. That’s enough to utterly transform your team and your practice. That’s how best practices are made – by creating a change agenda and building on one success at a time.

What’s more, this is how you change the entire culture of your team. By being focused on a week-to-week, subject-to-subject basis, you establish an environment that says that this dental team is continually growth-focused, and that learning and improvement are an integral part of your mission. And just creating that mindset in the team is a victory in itself.

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