Many of you will expect this article to discuss the merits of group function versus canine rise in developing an excursive occlusal scheme. Wrong. This group function is much more important to the success of your dental practice.

What are the things that you do to create team spirit? How do you motivate your team to follow your lead, your vision? How do you show them appreciation?

the truth about group function

I have heard it said, “Just pay them well and give them bonuses.”  While we all should be paying our team a fair wage, money is not the prime motivator for a long-term, dedicated team member. I also have never used a bonus system. I believe it has too much focus on money and not on patient care.

Increases in salary do not come because a calendar year has passed. Have they shown improvement over the year? Do they warrant a change in salary? What have they done to catch your eye? Most of the time I find myself going to a team member and telling them there will be a change in their salary. 

When they have to ask me for a raise, I know we have lots to talk about.  Something is brewing.

I do not believe in a bonus system but do believe in unexpected acts of kindness. Be creative. I have placed additional dollars in their paycheck, given extra days off, shortened work days, gift cards and gifts.

Back to group function. Team building builds spirit and, more important in my eyes, camaraderie.  So the rest of the article covers some of the things we have done as a group function.

(FYI, we have team meetings weekly for two hours, so there is always time set aside to do something.)

When we got our Mini Star, I saw this as an opportunity to have a group function. This video is our team meeting using the excess rings to have a ring toss. There was money to be made on an individual basis, as a team and as a timed event:

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Competitive shopping sprees:

Our team was told we would have an event in the afternoon and dinner afterwards.  We would work the morning.  At lunch, they were all given an envelope with money and instructions.  We went to a mall where they had a time limit to spend the money on themselves based upon rules that I made up. The one who spent the closest to the amount given would be our winner.  Usually they won money. Sometimes I have a grab bag of money and everyone earned a ‘pull’ from the grab bag. Be creative.

At dinner, we chat about their strategies for their task as well as anything interesting that happened. Always some fun stories. 

Christmas in July:

A stage show and dinner at a nice restaurant is an easy one. One July, I gave everyone some cash and they were instructed to buy a unisex gift. They were all given opaque trash bags to ‘wrap’ their purchases.  When we came back to the office we had a “Yankee Swap.”   

In Yankee Swap, each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift and places it in a designated area. Each person draws a number to determine the order of gift selection. The second person gets to pick a wrapped gift or take one from someone else. It can be fun to see what people do.

The above is just a sample of what we have done and what we will do. Over the years, I have heard many other fun things teams do as a group function.

So the truth about group function is that it is about more than just teeth.  It is about people - your people, your dental family.  You have to take care of your team so they can take care of you and your patients. Have fun. Make it memorable. 

Good luck on your journey.

Carl E Steinberg, DDS, MAGD, LLSR


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