Dental Business Consultant, Lucie Simic shares some ideas on how, by uncovering their goals and aspirations, you can build a motivated team.
One of the main tools I use to motivate a team is the organisation chart. When we launched the Exeter Dental Centre and started building our team from three surgeries into seven, one of the things that was really important was that we communicated with the team how they could progress within the business. This meant we had to share business information with the team, and I wanted to visually demonstrate to them how I could grow that team and where they could grow into it.
One of the things that’s toughest about our industry is that often there feels like a ceiling. Dental nurses in particular will come into the industry and feel like there’s nowhere for them to go. Often staff members have been in these roles for quite a long time. There might be a practice manager in place who has been there for a long time which leaves the team wondering where the opportunities are for them to progress or grow into a role. The organisation chart is a very visual tool, which lets you show people where there may be opportunities for them to progress.
In mine I put the business manager at the top, and then below that I have a leadership team, then I have my clinicians, my front of house and my dental nurses. This enables you to give team members additional responsibility and work that they might ordinarily not have, or not see. It enables you to communicate with them how they can move through the roles, and earn extra money potentially, by increasing salaries for responsibility. And it means that you can really show them how they can develop within the business.
Motivators vs Hygiene Factors
Herzberg’s theory of motivation talks about hygiene factors. These are people’s pay, pension, sick pay, holiday days. They are all of the really mundane things that we think about when we are employing staff members, and all of the things that get thought of as benefits but actually as a staff member, you expect them. So, I expect to be paid for turning up to work, I expect that there will be a pension that I can join, and I expect that I’ll get a certain number of holidays and a certain number of benefits. Herzberg says that these aren’t actually motivating factors, they are just hygiene factors. They are considered the norm. And one of the biggest changes I have seen in the workforce across the last five years, is that people are not coming to work for money in the same way, and, in a post-COVID world, I’ve seen that even more. Taking some time out, potentially with family, and stepping back and looking at their lifestyle balance, people have been making decisions about returning to work in a very different world. So, this has never been more relevant.
Staff need to see where they are going
We’re seeing staff members leave the industry, and I think one of the main reasons is we’re not offering them progression or extra responsibility. I know that pay comes in there, but they also want job satisfaction. Herzberg’s theory of motivation talks about the hygiene factors versus what is the most important thing, and that is increasing employee job satisfaction.
So, to take it back to the organisation chart and to demonstrate to you just how important that is, what we are doing by offering staff members channels where they can progress and take on additional responsibility is, we’re giving them increased job satisfaction. That’s one of the most important parts of motivating your team. Often as business managers and practice managers, we are very busy doing the day-to-day and often, there’s a lack of delegation and a lack of giving other jobs to people. I know that your teams are probably really busy and under pressure as well, but if we can look at ways that we can increase their satisfaction in coming to work, then you will have a very happy and motivated team. So, what the organisation chart effectively talks about is smashing the glass ceiling, giving nurses, front of house team members and other members of staff the opportunity to develop into roles, not just practice manager roles, but compliance manager roles, operations, coordinator roles, admin roles, and then also taking charge of their own teams.
It takes a team to lead a practice
I’m a big believer in having a leadership team beneath me. One of the reasons that Exeter was so successful was that I had an amazing leadership team who I was able to work alongside and delegate work to. We had a front of house lead, a dental nurse lead and a compliance manager, and those three people enabled me to do my job, which was to steer the ship in the direction that the practice owner and directors were asking me to do. So, as practice managers, there’s this pressure from above. We’re asked to do lots of things, our practice principals and owners are often talking to us about ways to increase revenue; how do we increase productivity, how do we increase fees, all of these things. But you can’t do those forward thinking and outside of the box jobs if you are bogged down in the day-to-day running of your practice. So, what better way than to delegate your work or some of the work to other team members? By doing this you are buying their motivation and their inspiration. You’re buying their loyalty to the business because you are giving them something extra, and that is satisfaction. They’re coming to work and enjoying the role, so they’re more likely to stay.
Lucie Simic has worked in the dental industry for ten years. She joined a practice in Exeter, the Exeter Dental Centre, and working with the owner, grew it from three surgeries to seven until ultimately the owner sold the business. She then moved on and started a consultancy, and now is the proud owner of a dental practice in Tavistock in Devon.