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Have you ever needed support on managing your practice or solving difficult clinical problems?

If you’re struggling to align your team on practice standards, you can turn to the thousands of like-minded clinicians on Spear Talk to find answers and share your experiences with other dentists.

The online forum, available with membership to Spear Online, gives clinicians a sales-free space to learn from specific cases and anecdotes posted by their colleagues. While some discussion threads on Spear Talk include many burning clinical questions faced by many doctors, others introduce questions about how to foster staff cohesion.

In this recent post, a doctor sought advice on encouraging his team to utilize Spear Online.

I would love to get my staff more interested in watching and learning from the Spear Online platform. I’ve tried assigning courses, talking it up and even showing some brief videos at staff meetings. I am obviously going about it from the wrong angle because very few of them have taken advantage of it.

Any insight on how to make this happen?

Several clinicians shared their advice, and one doctor commented about experiencing a similar situation:

Same here. I have had very limited success with my staff using Spear Online. The only use it gets is when someone needs to get CE credits to keep their license. You can’t force people to watch these videos, nor will financial incentives work (I dont think). I think the only way to do it is incorporate it into regular staff meetings and create an education culture in your office. This will be our next attempt.

Spear Resident Faculty member Dr. Gary DeWood also offered advice:

Not an uncommon experience. Some people are enthusiastic learners and some are not that excited about it. That doesn’t mean they won’t learn, they frequently just need a reason to learn. My undergraduate degree is in education, and one of the basic facts of adult learning is that adults must identify that they WANT to learn something before they can apply any energy to it. While I cannot know the entire situation around their reluctance, maybe they are not seeing an application for the learning that is beneficial to them. What’s in it for me is an important factor in the wanting to learn. With our Practice Solutions clients, the consultant and consulting team identifies things with the doctor and builds consensus with the team that this is something that is a good addition and/or change. Now you can ask them what they would like to learn about based on the things you want to add or change. Now specific videos can be assigned to team members who will report back to the team for discussion with the group on how the ideas in the video fit in to the practice philosophy and how best to integrate them into the processes of the practice to make the addition or change. Then everyone works together to make it happen.

SO – my suggestion is to identify things as a team that you want to impact in the practice, a vision for something you can add or change that will be beneficial to patients and the team, then decide what information might help you achieve that. Just as we do with patients, talking about the dentistry before the patient believes they need dentistry is usually counterproductive. Now this may be totally off base because I do not know your team or the exact situation – but I have worked with enough teams to have seen this before and frequently it’s a problem of WHY. Let me know if this helps.

Resident Faculty member Amy Morgan, who serves as Vice President of Consulting Strategy, echoed Dr. DeWood’s sentiment:

I absolutely agree with Gary! My favorite definition of leadership is: The art and science of inspiring people to WANT to do what you want them to do! The best way to involve your team is to find out what they are: stressed, challenged, unsure or excited to know more about and help them create lesson plans that match those needs. Also don’t mistake change resistance for lack of desire to improve. When breaking old habits and patterns and creating new – after the initial hype of expectation, there is a trough of disappointment that occurs in any journey from learning to doing. So, don’t give up, involve your team and celebrate the baby wins!

Another doctor recommended creating an immersive learning experience for the practice’s staff:

We dentists love Spear (and other high-end learning). Often, we come back from a course, seminar or workshop very excited and are met with resistance and eye rolls from the staff. They may be happy for us to have learned, but that may not necessarily carry over for their desire to learn.

Fully agree with Gary and Amy. I would also add try to create an experience.

I think about it like this...the difference between going to the Grand Canyon vs. telling someone about the Grand Canyon who has never been. There is no way to put in to words the impact of standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Pictures and stories don’t do it justice. You have to stand there and feel it. You become engaged because you experienced it yourself.

Likewise, maybe a staff trip to Spear (or high-end local CE) would be a good move to provide the opportunity for engagement. One of the best experiences our staff had was a Christmas dinner at a high-end restaurant in Charleston. Nothing dental related, but we were all blown away by the service! The restaurant created an experience and we all knew this is how we are, and strive to be, as a dental office.

Another clinician shared their experience about asking his team members specifically what they would like to learn:

One of the things I have done that really works well, is to let each person give me a list of what his or her particular areas they would like to learn, ranking them. Then each week we do a lunch and learn where I buy lunch and teach, or we watch a module together. It’s a little tough because it is remedial for some, but you will be surprised that the veterans will take over the teaching. Make sure you try the team modules that are shorter- some people really get distracted if the learning is too complex at first, and build it. I have several new team members and we are starting over, and the reward I get is seeing the excitement they project when they understand something clinically that pertains to something reviewed as a team. So, go down the different courses in the library you think would benefit your team, and make a list of the different subjects and let them rank them. So week 1, take asst A’s #1; week 2, rotate. If it’s a subject that requires repeated sessions, then ask them if they want to switch topics the following week or continue on the first path.

What would you recommend to this doctor for motivating his team? If you are a Spear Online member, you can view the full thread and join the conversation.

If you’re not a member, learn more about Spear Online and get your demo now: