Over the past 24+ years, we’ve worked with over 7,000 dental offices. During that time, we’ve had thousands of conversations with dentists, office managers, marketing managers, and front line staff. One consistent theme that continually resonates is this: the more engaged the dentist(s) is with employees, the more successful the practice.

As business owners it's sometimes easy to forget the importance of ongoing staff engagement. After all, we have dozens of other tasks that occupy our day. By following this path, you are doing your practice a huge disservice. Morale and engagement are tied directly to your staff’s confidence in you as a leader. In other words – you set the tone and the staff follows.

Basically, it’s your actions, not your words that will win the hearts and minds of your staff. Here are a few simple behaviors that any dentist-owner can easily implement.

Keep Your Ears Open and Mouth Shut

Don’t treat staff communication as monologues. It is absolutely imperative that you ask questions and spend most of your time listening. Ask your staff what the practice can do better, and let them know their opinion counts. And don’t wait for staff meetings. Many staff are much more comfortable, speaking one-on-one or in small groups, and won’t open up or share an idea in a public venue.

Make Everyone Part of the Excitement

One of the most effective ways you can drive employee engagement is to explain the significance of every staff member's role within the office. Each person has to understand how their day-to-day tasks contribute to reaching your goals. For example, when you share how a call handler’s new-patient conversion rate affects the practice goals, it brings clarity to what may have been perceived as a mundane task. Respect your staff’s contributions and make them feel important and empowered.

Acknowledge, Acknowledge

Back in the 70’s and 80’s employee engagement was not a concept many offices grasped. Employees worked and got a paycheck. Although times have changed, many practice owners underestimate the importance of gratitude. And this doesn’t mean staff-wide emails, but an acknowledgment of individual achievements. Make it part of your day and week, to thank staff – and make sure you mean it.

Your role as a business owner is to maintain a viable, profitable practice and your profitability is tied directly to staff engagement. Good employees, with low turnover and high morale are your most valuable asset. They are what differentiate you from competitors and keeping them is not only your job, but also one of your main priorities.