Don’t Manage Your Team… Motivate Them

I once had a young woman who worked the front desk of a dental practice tell me that she wanted to be an office manager because it was so “glamorous.” When I think of her saying that, it always makes me smile.

On any given day, I wear at least a dozen different hats. I’m an accountant, IT technician, psychiatrist, lawyer, dental assistant, janitor, public relations specialist, and Tony Robbins. There is so much more to being a dental office manager than just completing the day-to-day tasks within the practice.

When you’re dealing with a group of professionals, they don’t need to be managed, they need to be motivated. Anyone who is motivated will always give it their all. One thing I’ve learned in my 20 years as a practice manager is that to get the most from your team, focus on motivation, not management.

Here are some of my most successful strategies to help motivate your dental team.

We’ve created a practice that’s always giving back to the patients and team

I stress to the entire team that we “all” individually contribute to the success of the practice. If the practice does well, the team knows that they will be given more hours and rewards. It’s a win-win situation. So, when it comes down to going out on the weekends to community events to represent the practice, everyone wants in. They all want to be a part of bringing in new patients and getting the practice’s name into the community. It’s a total team marketing approach. Everyone loves reaping the rewards. We also do a lot of fun team-building activities – for example, painter’s pub, atomic bowling and dinner parties. It really solidifies our relationship as a team.

We’ve created a culture of mutual respect

An indirect motivator is mutual respect. By letting them know that I understand the complexities of their job, they don’t feel like they’re just an employee. If one of my hygienists comes to me and asks for more time to treat a patient who has special requirements, I always give them the extra time they need. It lets them know that I appreciate them and their passion to contribute to the overall health of their patient. This results in job satisfaction.

Continuing education is also a great motivator. Team-focused CEs can be a lot of fun. A good speaker will always get your team fired up and ready to get back into the office and apply what they’ve learned. So our practice is not afraid to invest in bringing someone in or sending the team to a CE event.

We’ve made a commitment to manage our mindset

I always try to start the day in a motivated mood. I listen to podcasts by Gary Takacs on my commute into the office. It really helps me to get focused and gives me ideas on how to run the practice more efficiently.

Although I don’t think of my position as “glamorous,” it is highly rewarding. I love coming into the office in the morning. It can be stressful at times, but as a team, we always work through it. I am stronger because of the amazing team that surrounds me.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Manage Your Team… Motivate Them

  1. I love this message Angela! A team that works together and puts the needs of the patients and the practice first will always be successful! Thanks for sharing! I will too!

  2. Wonderful insight, totally agree.. I worked in a practice for 26 years that had this same mentally and it works for EVERYONE ! Thanks for sharing

  3. Great post. It’s great to see that managers understand that being successful these days takes a lot more creativity and work, but if done right it’s a lot of fun. Teamwork is more than just a motivational poster on the wall!

  4. This is a wonderful read. I aspire to be an office manager one day and this is the type of office I dream about!

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