5 Effective Strategies for Communicating With Your Dental Team
Ace communication with your dental team if you want success.
The success of your dental practice largely depends on the synergy of your workforce. If your dental team communication is effective and they can collaborate successfully, it’s easier to meet your growth goals, deliver quality services, and maintain customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, the opposite can also hold true.
A team that’s disjointed by conflict or discord can turn current and prospective clients away. A disconnected team also makes the office a miserable place to work and can even harm your brand reputation.
By prioritizing dental team communication, you can create the kind of practice where employees, partners, and patients all want to be.
Today, we’re sharing five strategies to help you get there.
1. Create a team-centered atmosphere.
Think about the kind of culture and atmosphere that you want to create in your office. In addition to your patient-facing activities, how do you want your employees to interface with one another when they’re working behind the scenes?
You can set the stage for positivity and motivation by choosing your words carefully. The way you speak to your employees will directly affect the way they speak to one another.
If you’re constantly pointing out their flaws and mistakes, that will become the focus of the office. Before long, you may notice your employees using the same negative tone when interacting with each other, which could spill over into how they interact with patients.
On the other hand, if you make it a point to notice the positive traits of your team members and reward their accomplishments, you’ll catalyze a chain reaction of kindness. Your team members will be inspired to good and respect one another, which includes listening to them and supporting them in their work.
Not only does this help your operations run more smoothly, but it can also improve team performance. Research shows that when teams communicate effectively, they can improve their productivity by up to 25%.
2. Converse courageously.
Of course, not every conversation will be sugar-coated. There will undoubtedly come a time when you need to clearly directly address a difficult situation with a team member or bring up a sensitive topic.
When this happens, remember to engage in constructive criticism. While this jargon is used often, many people aren’t entirely sure what it means. It doesn’t mean to mask an insult with praise or to belittle someone in an effort to point out their mistakes.
Rather, constructive criticism means to talk in a way that builds someone up, rather than demoralizes them. It means pointing out their strong suits, even as you clearly explain the issue at hand. The other party should leave with a deeper understanding of what went wrong, but should never feel personally attacked or victimized.
3. Assume the best.
To strike this balance, lead with grace. Never assume the worst, and give others the benefit of the doubt. If an employee makes a misstep, their intentions aren’t usually malicious. Most of the time, they just didn’t know better, or perhaps forgot something on a bad day.
Maybe the expectations weren’t clear, or the employee didn’t understand how to perform in accordance with those expectations. Ask questions and give them plenty of time to respond. Listen intently and make eye contact, asking them to repeat any parts that are unclear.
These types of conversations are much more valuable and beneficial than ones that involve more finger-pointing than real dialogue. When employees operate with the knowledge that an honest mistake isn’t likely to end their career, they’ll be more willing to come to you when an issue does arise.
4. Conduct meetings.
We’ve all seen the meme that says, “This meeting could have been an email.” Yes, it’s true that many conference room sessions tend to last longer than expected, but that isn’t a reason to eschew them altogether.
In fact, meetings can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal. The key is to use them effectively in a way that gives everyone a fair voice.
For effective team meetings, follow these basic tips.
- Establish objectives at the start of the meeting
- Keep it short
- Establish a clear leader
- Create (and stick to) an agenda
- Strategically choose the attendees you invite
- Ask questions to move the conversation forward
- Address the group as a whole, as well as individual employees
- Send follow-up notes afterward
If there are distractions at the meeting (such as excessive phone use), try to eliminate them as soon as possible. Politely remind the team to put their phones or laptops away so they can pay attention to the message you’re conveying.
5. Practice active listening.
You might think that you’re listening to one of your employees as they share a concern, but are you really getting the root of the message? Active listening is the act of observing both verbal and non-verbal messages that someone is sending you.
What does their body language say and what emotions can you glean from their facial expressions? Do they appear closed off and defensive, or vulnerable and open? Often, what someone doesn’t say is just as important as what they blatantly tell you.
As an active listener, you should also be prepared to participate in the dialogue. Instead of simply nodding your head and saying “hmm” every so often, use phrases that reveal you understand. Repeat key sentences back to the speaker for clarification, and ask questions as you think of them.
This shows that you’re engaged, and aren’t just passively nodding your head while they speak. The more you practice and demonstrate active listening, the easier it becomes for your team members to use it with one another.
Prioritize dental team communication in your practice.
It’s easy to underestimate the power and potential of dental team communication. However, when you make it a priority, you’ll start to notice the positive effects it can have on your entire practice, including your patient family.
In a world where we’re more connected on our smartphones than face-to-face, many of these tactics can seem obscure. Yet with plenty of practice, you’ll soon discover how effective they can be.
As you grow your practice and improve your communication, we’re here to help you reach new heights. Check out our full list of educational events and courses today and let’s take the next step forward.