Ever thought about what gets in your way? What keeps you or your dental office team from doing your best work or having extraordinary relationships? Do you avoid dealing with the difficult aspects of managing people because you are overwhelmed or don’t even know where to begin?
As dental professionals, we take care of humans and their needs all day long. We are good about patient care, but not so much about self-care. Understanding your own needs helps you understand your patient’s needs. As a result, you’ll be a higher-functioning person in the dental office and in life.
The Six Core Needs
We have basic human needs that are deeply rooted in our genetics, family upbringing and environment. These needs drive our thoughts and influence our behaviors. When we are aware and in control of them, they can create happiness and balance. Alternatively, when we aren’t in tune, they can keep us from being in charge of our emotions or even result in emotional outbursts. Left unchecked, this can wreak havoc and create unwanted drama. Why wait for a major disruption – like having to fire someone – before you start dealing with it?
Here’s how the experts break down our six core needs:
“The Needs of Our Personality”
Certainty. Ever work with someone with “perfection disease”? This person often can’t make forward progress or complete tasks because it has to be perfect or it can’t be completed. Perfectionists, or people who are extremely risk averse, can thwart team efforts in reaching goals if they don’t learn to surrender control.
Variety. These are your people who thrive on change and get bored easily. This need is not quite so dangerous in our practice, as the sheer diversity and volume of patients keeps our work interesting. But the need for constant change could threaten a marriage or your economic status.
Significance. If this is your driver, then you may need lots of praise and confirmation. While praise is a good thing, it can become an addictive poison, where you need more and more to be satisfied. This is definitely one that can lead to team problems. When a team member’s ego is tied to everything, they become a high-maintenance employee and zap time and team energy.
Connection/Love. This is the healthiest of all the needs. We all have this need because we all crave love and connection. We want to belong to the group and feel like our work is connected to something greater than ourselves. This is why team building is so essential!
“The Needs of the Spirit”
Growth. This is the need to consistently increase your capabilities or capacity for something. These are usually pretty stellar employees. But this need can pose challenges for owners when their best employees feel like they’ve plateaued where they are.
Contribution. This is the need to give back or do something for the greater good. You want to make the world a better place, but sometimes that comes with carrying a burden to do so. And your passion for helping your community can also come at the cost of taking care of yourself or your family. This need requires learning to balance.
Rewiring Our Brains to Reprogram Our Responses
Ever find yourself at the end of your daily commute and not remember driving it or making the decisions to turn right or left? Like our daily commutes, our emotions follow well-worn paths without even thinking about it. Why? Science tells us that our brains are made up of neural pathway–superhighways.
Our neural paths can get stuck in a loop and it can feel like we don’t have a choice in how we react to our emotions. But we do. The first step is to simply be aware of the needs that drive your emotions. It begins with “self” and understanding which needs make you tick or where your strongest emotional reactions surface. But it takes more than awareness — it takes intentional work, commitment and a mindset to reprogram your brain on a daily basis for a new response.
A Winning Culture Starts with You
Dentists who show up and lead at a high level have higher achieving practices. By exploring your own needs and auto-responses, you can set the tone and open the conversation for your team to do the same. Be transparent and watch what happens. You will clear a space for transformation for yourself and others.
Successful Cultures Happen When We Understand What Drives People
When we understand which needs truly drive a person, we can change behaviors and outcomes to build a team culture that empowers everyone to reach their fullest potential. Make it your goal to learn what drives your team members’ behaviors — individually and collectively. Find out what their motivations and wishes are, and then tie those drivers back to your company goals.
Each year, I ask my team to share three wishes they have for themselves — personally, professionally or both. I take their feedback and find ways to pivot and align our company goals so that we can achieve success both as a company and as individuals.
When you build this kind of culture, existing employees will want to stick around, potential candidates will want to join your team and your patients will take notice.
Productivity, Profitability & The Peaceful Workplace
The dental practices who help their teams master their core needs will be the ones that do more than just survive the next era of technology advances and future changes to our professional world — they will be the winners who reap the rewards of attracting and retaining the best talent! And we all know the by-product of that is productivity, profitability and a peaceful workplace.
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About the author
Tonya Lanthier is founder and CEO of DentalPost, the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers and 60,000 dental offices in the U.S. and Canada. A Registered Dental Hygienist, Tonya built DentalPost from a passion to improve lives and help dental professionals build teams that excel through metric-based career matching tools, including emotional intelligence and personality tests, core values, skills and work culture assessments.
DentalPost is the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel. Founded by Tonya Lanthier, a Registered Dental Hygienist, DentalPost leads the industry in metric-based career matching including personality tests as well as values, skills and work culture assessments to assist in selecting the best match for each position.