Dental Team Recognition: Ideas For Dental Team Culture & Appreciation

Show Appreciation To or For Your Dental Team

“People are nourished by transforming work, growth, reaching their potential. I believe very strongly that only by continually renewing its members can an organization continually renew itself. A vital organization is full of vital individuals.” – Max De Pree [1]

Work for pay is the most basic motivation for your team of employees. No one shows up and puts in their time for free.

But in that respect, compensation is overrated. Before you take that comment to task, pause and consider the intrinsic value of showing employee appreciation.

The other reason people show up (and stay)

Employee morale is seldom solely the result of wages earned. Your employees rely on something more internal (intrinsic) to stay motivated day in day out.

“Bottom line: your dental group employees show up, work, and leave your practice daily nourished by the idea that they’ve done something meaningful and transforming. Or they punch-the-clock, push production, and clock-out feeling as though another piece of their soul has been extracted to fuel your dental ‘machine.’” [1]

No doubt, the former attitude, not the latter, is the one you want to nurture into your dental practice culture. It’s about employees that engage their time, talent, and tenacious work ethic in something meaningful.

Dentist looking at an x-ray with a patient.jpeg

Why appreciation matters

Feeling appreciated is more than a mere pat on the back with a quick “thank you” thrown in. What your team members want (and deserve) from you is not all that different from how you want to be treated on the heels of work accomplished.

For example, you’re probably accustomed to being thanked by a patient following a dental procedure. Conscientious patients share their pain, lack of confidence, or fear and how your caring treatment brought relief to them, whether in person or through online reviews.

How that makes you feel ,and how those who assisted you in the process should feel, are one in the same. In essence, feeling appreciated energizes performance, especially when motivation wanes. It works for you AND for your team too!

Keep appreciation “real”

Sincerity (or lack of it) sends a clear signal. The most elementary form of appreciation is a simple “Thank-you.”

And you should be lavish with those words. It’s the layer of sincerity beneath the “thanks” that tips your employee(s) in a positive direction.

Push “pause” before you utter your thanks. In fact, walking out of the operatory or away from the front desk after a notable moment of appreciation (and before you say anything) can bolster your sincerity.

Walk away for a moment. Then casually return to the person(s) and express a thoughtful word of “thanks” and “appreciation.”

Train yourself to delay (but only for a brief moment). The extra effort on your part will put to rest any perceptions about your sincerity.

Co-workers wearing surgical mask with arms crossed in dental clinic.jpeg

Be specific

Attach your appreciation to a specific action, moment, or attitude. Everyone hears “good job” so often that it might go unheard.

Give a “why” for the “what.” Share the reason you appreciate what they did.

“I like how you…”

“Thanks for…”

“It helps us when you…”

Create a “whiteboard” culture

Whiteboards are good for writing unfiltered ideas. Create a team atmosphere where the free sharing of ideas can occur without judgement.

This causes employees to feel like stakeholders. The freedom to contribute something of value via a simple idea can produce the feeling of being appreciated.

And when team members share something – implemented or not – give them verbal high-fives for their willingness and courage to share.

Also, asking for input from a team member shows that you appreciate their role and insight. Schedule an in-office lunch with a random selection of employees and ask their input on how to reach new patients, reactivate current patients, or any of a variety of problem-solution situations.

These appreciations go a level or two deeper than the expected “thanks” or “I appreciate you.” Each taps into the transforming nature of work.

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