Nothing feels better than when you ask a candidate “why do you want to work at ….” and they respond with “I want to be a part of your culture.”
Talk about employee buy-in right off the bat! Last month we talked about recruitment strategy,
this month we’ll magnetize your culture.
The shared collection of values, ideas, and attitudes that guide your practice is known as your dental practice’s culture. It shows in the way you interact with your patients and team members and it has an impact on the candidates you attract for open positions. A positive work environment increases productivity, lowers turnover, and enhances employee engagement.
Every organization’s work culture evolves with time, but unfortunately, it can harm the business. Allowing negative habits and poisonous attitudes to persist will result in a negative work experience – as well as a costly one. According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, toxic workplace cultures cost US companies $223 billion in turnover over a five-year period.
You can, however, build a healthy work culture that will motivate your team, attract like-minded candidates, and help your practice succeed by being deliberate with your core values and culture initiatives.
#1 Develop and Defend Your Core Values
Core values are what define your business. Your practice’s core values influence the attitude and priorities of your team members. Your core values should be seen in every aspect of your practice — treatment, check-in, sales, marketing, quarterly reviews, and interviews. Make them visible too! Create a cool accent wall in the lobby or break room so that each team member can be constantly reminded of the practice’s purpose and mission.
Your core values should influence who you hire, fire, and reward. By using your core values as a weeding tool, you’ll be able to quickly eliminate candidates who may be qualified but aren’t values or culture fit. Likewise, by showing your core values, candidates will be able to eliminate themselves if your values don’t align with theirs.
At your next team meeting, take time to discuss and define your practice’s core values. This should be an all-hands-on-deck type of meeting that way everyone can be on the same page. Once they are agreed upon, defend them. If your value is timeliness and a team member is consistently late or taking longer breaks than they should, address it immediately. View your core values as your promise to one another and to your patients.
#2 Set Clear Goals and Expectations
It’s never fun to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. If your teams and team members feel unclear about what their roles and expectations are, they won’t feel fulfilled within their job. This allows for feelings of frustration to fester. Your team members will feel frustrated with themselves because they don’t feel set up to succeed, they’ll feel frustrated with their coworkers because their expectations will differ from one another, and they’ll feel frustrated with you because you didn’t do more to offer guidance. But avoiding this frustration can be easy! Simply set clear goals and expectations.
When clear expectations are set, your team members will have the same daily goals and will be able to hold each other accountable. Meet up with your departmental leaders and set a clear path for success, task lists, and daily goals so that everyone is on the same page. Watch how morale and job fulfillment soar, improving office culture and productivity!
#3 Make Team Building Part of The Job
- Set an Example
It all begins at the top. If strong teamwork isn’t already present at the grassroots level, it’s time for the leadership team to take the lead. By way of illustration. They’re the ones who the rest of your company looks to for direction, therefore they should make teamwork a priority. Their actions will filter down through the organization, first to leaders at each level, and then to all team members. The entire organization will eventually accept and anticipate this way of operating.
- Have Scheduled Team-Building Exercises
Your team-building exercises should be done on a regular basis. Team-building exercises are similar to physical exercise in that the benefits endure longer if you practice them frequently. If you only train twice a year, you won’t be able to reach the pinnacle of Everest. Working in a group is comparable. Find a way to integrate the exercises into your team’s daily routine if you want to attain your teamwork goals.
Try going out to a haunted house together or a winery! Make team-building exercises fun.
- Be Grateful for Feedback, it’s a Gift
It’s best to establish rules early on, but be open to modifying them if they’re hindering rather than benefiting the team. You can either write them down or discuss them freely. In any case, you should be explicit about why they exist and get feedback from all parties involved.
- Give Out Rewards
Employees who get recognized are happy employees. Employees who are happy at work perform better (you can learn more about this here if you’re interested). Recognition is important if you want a happier, stronger team – and this does not mean monetary compensation. Great cooperation is built on effective communication. Great teams communicate well and frequently, and their members are willing to exchange ideas, brainstorm together, get criticism, and be contradicted.
#4 Focus on Employee Development
Do you look to hire someone for a job or do you look to hire someone who wants a career? Your culture needs to focus on developing the careers of your team members.
- Offer and set expectations of continued education courses right away.
- Develop your departmental heads into team leaders and coaches rather than bosses.
- Cross-train all of your team members so that they can learn skills and better support each other.
- Emphasize growing soft skills. One of our favorite ways of doing this is by having a book club and going through books such as The Road Back to You by Iran Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile which is all about personalities and better understanding yourself and those around you. Or the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
- Focus on the personal development of each team member. Emotional, physical, and intellectual health and balance are key to being able to develop professionally.
#5 Have An Open-Door Policy
Trust and open communication are the cornerstones of having a successful culture in your practice. An open-door policy encourages two-way feedback and discussion, allowing for faster and more direct communication. By stepping down from “boss-mode” and stepping into “colleague,” your team members will still know that you call the shots, but they’ll be more willing to get vulnerable and open up about important work and personal issues that could be influencing their work. Having an open-door policy is a great way to give your team members respect and value for their thoughts.
Your practice culture is worth developing and defending.
Healthy, productive business culture should aid in the recruitment and retention of great team members, rather than obstructing it. Make sure you show off your culture correctly when utilizing it to attract and recruit candidates. Candidates frequently accept employment based on their perception of a strong cultural fit. If the practice culture does not meet their expectations, they will leave, negatively impacting your turnover and bottom line.
Your culture is important. Create one that you, your team, and your patients are excited to be a part of.