How Dental Entrepreneur Women Build Healthy Office Cultures

In Building a Practice, Embracing Coworkers by Tonya Lanthier

Build a healthy practice through cultural balance

Let me start by saying, I believe in cleaning out your closet. I know this sounds like an editing mistake but think about it. When you clean everything out and get organized, it clears your head. You know where everything is, and you have more clarity. When you are organized, things can be better managed for success.

As women, we juggle a lot of balls. Family, kids, spouse, boyfriend, what to make for dinner, the list goes on. And one little thing, like not having a full tank of gas or your phone battery being at 10%, can throw your entire day off. When we prepare and are ready for the next day, week, or month ahead, then we can show up and be more present to work on the things that matter.

Building a successful practice requires more than being prepared though. Understanding your why is also important. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it because you love helping others? You enjoy making a difference in someone’s life? Knowing your why will help set the right tone for your office and help understand your core values. In my years of experience, the healthiest and strongest practices have shared cultural beliefs.

Three easy steps to create a strong cultural balance

Step 1. Define your culture

A culture will form whether you create it or not. This is why it’s important to be clear on the qualities you exhibit that will attract the right team, patients, and community. My core values developed in my childhood when I had a bike wreck and the dental team was so good to me and eased my fears. My mother had some issues growing up and all I ever wanted was for her to be okay. Our past sets up core values and our why. Why do we do what we do?

What was important to me from my childhood experience was to improve lives and make sure everyone is okay. The main core value at DentalPost is to improve lives.

Step 2. Prioritize culture

While temping in over 100 dental offices, I saw first-hand what hiring the wrong people could do to a practice, and it had some ugly consequences. Throughout my experience, I realized the main reason for disjointed teams and unhappy bosses was the disconnect between the culture and core values of the practice and the individual team members. When you prioritize skills and tasks in an interview or job ad instead of who you are and what you believe, you will never find the right people for the role. Every single part of the hiring process should support the goal of finding the right candidate.

Step 3. Ask yourself, does this person fit our culture?

Do you have a team player? I always ask where does this person’s need come from? Do they have the need to contribute to a group or control significant needs? Understanding a person’s needs will help determine if they will be a good fit for the team.

4 quadrant diagram of employee team players

Even if a team member consistently hits production goals, it does not mean they are the right for your team. If you need someone who is a self-starter to back you up, then the person who may be hitting goals but drains you of time and energy isn’t a good fit. Let them go. I find this the most difficult for business owners to swallow. It is tempting to keep everyone that hits goal each month. But if that person is causing drama or is always late—the overall effects of their presence on the team is not worth it.

The best teams are like making music

Everything must be balanced. You need everyone to work together to create a healthy atmosphere. If your team does not prioritize your values, they will create imbalance in your work day. You will find yourself spending too much time talking to, correcting, or listening to complaints. Your platform cannot remain in balance if you are not moving about as YOU see fit—but as others demand. If you set the cultural expectation up front—and remove team members that create imbalance you will maximize your abilities to lead and keep your team and business successfully balanced and healthy.

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