Creating a cohesive team is the goal of any successful practice. With times as they are, we seem to be adding and losing staff more frequently than in the past. In this time of turnover, how do we align our team and keep them working to the best of their potential? How do we make sure that our clients are having the best experience possible while in our care? In this article, we will share three team building ideas for dental offices that will ensure your patients are seeing your team at its best.

dental office team discussion

Building Relationships and Resolving Conflicts

1. Be proactive.

Tackling obstacles and disagreements in the workplace isn't easy. When you see discord amongst team members, it is easy to ignore it and hope it will change on its own. It won't — what you are seeing will also be seen by your patients. Ignoring the problem may make it worse. Rumors spread, people take sides and something that was a disagreement between two people may eventually fracture the dynamic of the office.

As conflicts arise, address them head on. Act as the mediator and follow these steps to begin conflict resolution:

  • Determine the root of the conflict
    • What are the facts?
    • What was the outcome?
  • Focus on the facts and let each side share their perception of what happened. Practice active listening by:
    • Appropriate body language
    • Retain eye contact
    • Paraphrase what is being said
    • Give verbal affirmations such as “I understand”
  • Avoid:
    • Unrelated personal details
    • Personal attacks on character
    • Bringing additional people into the conversation

Once you have a larger understanding of the situation and both sides have shared their perception of the conflict, it is time to start resolving the conflict by:

  • Leading from neutral ground
  • Appealing to a common goal
  • Setting a timeline for next steps
  • Get buy in from both parties

Negotiations between the parties involve finding compromises and building a path for healing. Make sure you hold the parties and yourself accountable for the situation. Check in and make sure the work is being done to rebuild relationships and keep the focus on the common goal.

Don't expect this to be something that happens overnight. Feelings between staff members are deeper than the conflict itself but taking the steps to find resolution, and making sure your team members are being heard, makes all the difference.

multiple hands grabbing donuts from office table

Team Building Ideas for Dental Offices

2. Surprise them!

You should already be having regular celebrations for birthdays and anniversaries, but don't just stop there. Workplace celebrations and employee recognition should be frequent, but it doesn't need to be elaborate. Something as simple as a Friday coffee cart or Monday morning donuts, can put a smile on everyone's faces and lift the mood of the office.

Other ways to align your team include:

  • Break room contests, such as:
    • Trivia questions
    • Raffles
    • Puzzles
    • “How many?”
    • “Who am I?”
  • Complement board or wall
  • In-office scavenger hunts
  • Recipe or cooking competitions
  • Theme or costume days
  • Plan a team event
  • Book clubs
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Gym membership discounts
  • CE hours or professional development in-office

These activities are intended to make your employees feel special about their individual accomplishments, but they also work to bond your team as a group. As they socialize and get to know each other they will start to appreciate each other and have a greater understanding of the people they work with. The break room discussion about the weekly trivia question might be just what is needed to break the ice between team members and allow for more grace when there is a disagreement.

dental team members talking over coffee

Creating and Achieving Team Goals

3. Align your team.

Goal setting is a great way to align a team. By working towards a goal together, your team becomes stronger. This only happens if everyone understands the goal, is invested in the process and feels it is important to the organization. This has many layers. Where should you start? What role will each person and/or department play? Are your goals achievable?

With just a few steps, you can create team goals and start to build a stronger, more aligned team.

Step 1: Brainstorm end results

  • What is missing from your organization?
  • Are there gaps in our output?
  • Are there financial goals we aren't hitting?
  • Do your team members have common professional goals?

Step 2: Prioritize

  • Have each team member rank their top 3 goals from the list created above.
  • Focus on the top 5.
  • Save the list to revisit during your next session!

Step 3: Write SMART goals

chart demonstrating SMART goals
  • SMART goals ensure that your goals are achievable. Goals need to be:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Step 4: Create a timeline with regular milestones

  • Once you have your goal, build out your timeline to meet that goal. What are the steps to success?

Step 5: Evaluate your progress

  • Check in with your team during your weekly or monthly meeting to see where you are with your goals. Celebrate your successes. Re-focus on goals that are lagging.

A common goal is an important part of building a team. It does take some time to develop and align on goals, but it is worth it. Not only will your team be more cohesive, a recent Forbes Gallup poll stated that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.

Team Building = Team Alignment

Building a cohesive team creates a better experience for your clients, a positive work environment for your staff, and increases the profitability of your practice. The three team building ideas for dental offices in this article are just a few ways to start the process of building an aligned team.

If you are looking for even more ways to align your team, download Spear's “Achieve Your Goals with a Unified Team” and learn how to make your practice even stronger with Spear Practice Solutions analytics-driven consulting.