All aboard!

smallerLaura Horton looks at ways to help your practice stay afloat by having a team that’s always behind you

As a practice owner, you probably already know where you want your business to be in the next 12 months. The battle most practice owners face is getting their team on board.
This becomes extremely frustrating as you may have told them a few times but they either don’t get it or you perceive them as not to be interested in helping you.
This can leave you wondering if you even have the right team. Do you need to go through a lengthy and painful process of recruiting a new team, or somehow make them realise you are not the right practice for them, and let them make the decision to leave on their own?
In my experience, I have found three problems with getting a team on board:
1. You do not have a clear vision. If the vision is wishy-washy, the team won’t understand
2. You scare the team by saying that you want to be turning over £1million
3. The way you communicate your vision is not suited to your audience.

Map out your destination

The dental team is usually made up of right-brained people. They think with emotion, not fact, are caring and extremely loyal, and always think of others and how they will ‘feel’ or be affected by decisions made. They also need to know the ‘why’ and ‘how’.
Starting with your vision, I always recommend that you only share the plan for the next 12 months. Three years is a long time and this timeframe worries the right-brained person.
I also advise you to remove the turnover aspect. You should know your target for gross and profit but the team does not need to be worry about this right now.
Next, you need to make sure the plan is laid out – in detail. It is no good saying to your team, ‘in the next 12 months we need 50 new patients a month and five days of hygiene a week.’ How are you going to get there? Create a map for the team.
I like to use the term ‘pillars’. Under each goal, such as ‘in the next 12 months we need 50 new patients a month,’ think about what pillars you will need to support your goal. Perhaps a new website, a rebrand or marketing plan will be in order? You will have five pillars per goal on average.

Share your story

Once you have completed all the planning, you must arrange a team meeting to present the vision. Normally, a principal dentist’s nurse always finds out the information first, and passes this information on to the team. This leads to distrust and a gossip culture – both of which need to be avoided if you want to get your team on board.
I wouldn’t arrange for this meeting to be during a lunch break as you will need a few hours to run over everything; you must also ensure your entire team are present.
Prior to the meeting you need to create visuals, such as a presentation. Standing there talking at people doesn’t work – give them something else to look at! On the day of the meeting you can’t just launch into the vision and how you are going to get there; start with your story. Many left-brained people, such as dentists, find this hard to do as your story needs to be right-brained, i.e., emotional. You need your team to connect.

  1. Tell them why you went into dentistry; was it to care for people, help people?
  2. Tell them what you are passionate about now – changing people’s lives with the dentistry that you enjoy? What do you enjoy, and why?
  3. Confirm a weakness that they know and you know you have, such as: ‘I know I run late and this must make you all feel very frustrated with me. I really don’t like running late and would like to hear from you today how we can stop this happening as I want you all to finish on time.’
  4. Tell them how they make you feel when you have a fantastic day, when patients leave positive comments or tell you in person how helpful someone has been – does this make you proud?
  5. Finish by stating how lucky you are to have such a committed team and, because of this, today you are going to share the 12-month vision for the practice and how, as a team, you can get there.

This is the most powerful way to get your team on board. They see you as a busy dentist, who perhaps dashes out the door to get home to your family. Someone who doesn’t really know how they feel, or someone that doesn’t know them.

Visionary detail

I wholeheartedly disagree with business owners not connecting with their team. This automatically puts a hierarchy in place. Your team needs to know you are human and that you think alike, too. So, when vision planning your business in detail, share your story and ask the team for questions and ideas to help you achieve the vision, and you will immediately have a team that is on board.


Laura Horton has worked in dentistry for 15 years and is passionate about treatment coordination and team development. To find out more, visit

Become a Dentistry Online member

Become a member
Add to calendar