Do you have the right people on your team?

jamie morley discusses the importance of having the right people on your dental team

Is someone on your team under-performing? Jamie Morley on the importance of making changes, having the right people and assessing if someone is not suitable for your practice.

Having the right people is a critical factor in building a high-performing team.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start letting people go if they’re not currently ‘right’ for the team or practice. People can change and develop.

A key task for a leader is to unlock this potential in people.

Nevertheless, changing and developing human behaviour is challenging. It requires a significant investment of time and effort, both by the individual concerned and those encouraging and facilitating the change.

Therefore, you do need to think seriously as to whether you have the right people on your team. In addition, think about whether those who have areas they need to work on and change are willing to do so.

Do you have the right people on your team?

We’ve talked before about figuring out what responsibilities to give people in order to drive your business successfully toward your practice vision and goals. This should be your starting point when working out if you have the right people in the right roles with the right overall responsibilities.

Imagine that for a month you are stuck on a desert island. Total responsibility for the practice, or a particular area of responsibility, rests with a specific person – the person currently in that role (or the closest thing to it).

How do you feel about that? Would you be comfortable with it? Would the business be able to run effectively with that person in charge?

If it feels good and you believe they would be able to step up and lead effectively, great.

However, if not, what learning and development work would need to be done by this person to get to a place where you would be comfortable to leave them in charge?

How long will it take for this person to get to that point? Alternatively, could you imagine another person in that role? How does that feel in comparison?

Is a change needed?

If you feel that it will take a long time for the first person to get to the required level, you must consider whether a change is needed.

In addition, if imagining another person in that role excites you and you think it could have a positive impact on the business, consider whether a change is needed.

If you decide that it is, this needs to be done in the right way.

Have an honest discussion with the first individual about what you want from them if they are to remain in this role. Make sure you clearly articulate the specific behaviours you are looking for. Remember to show empathy and understanding.

If they step up and do what is asked of them, fantastic. However, if they do not or they are not willing to, you must follow through with the appropriate process and discussions.

Early in my career, I simply didn’t want to do this, but I had to. As uncomfortable as it was, I witnessed afterwards the positive impact it had on the business and the team.

Are they unwilling to change?

I am often asked what to do about specific employees who are not willing to change or take on board new approaches. They might be blocking the execution of changes that you want to make and/or complaining behind your back to other team members.

This could be an associate dentist, it could be a receptionist. It doesn’t matter who it is. Everybody has an important role to play in the practice, otherwise you wouldn’t be paying them to be there.

This is childlike behaviour and you are behaving like a parent unless you call them out on it directly.

You need to go to the individual with concrete examples, explain the impact of their reluctance or resistance to change and then listen to their point of view. You may be surprised and see a change in their behaviour.

The key is identifying the problematic behaviour they are demonstrating and explaining the impact that it has on the practice and the business.

The importance of honest conversations

This is why it is so important to master the skill of having these difficult honest conversations. Sometimes it can help somebody see for themselves that actually a role, or even the practice, isn’t for them, in which case they will likely leave of their own accord.

If not, and if nothing changes, it will be up to you as the leader to follow through with the appropriate processes and make a change.

After this person has left the business, you may find that things were worse than you were aware of. You might even wish you had made a change earlier.

It is a good example of the different, sometimes seemingly contradictory behaviours that you have to show as a leader. You have to be kind, understanding, caring and empathetic. After all, you are making decisions and taking actions that will ultimately significantly affect an individual’s life.

Both types of behaviour are essential for a leader to be able to lead their team and their practice toward success. This affects the lives of multiple people rather than just one individual.

Make the decision

Take time to consider if you have the right people holding the responsibilities that are key to the practice’s success. Are they fulfilling these responsibilities?

What skills and behaviours are you looking for them to show? Are they demonstrating them currently?

If not, have you communicated clearly to them the need for these behaviours and their impact? Or if yes, have you given them the required support to develop these?

If they are not fulfilling their responsibilities, not demonstrating the required skills or behaviours, and are not willing to change despite you clearly communicating with them multiple times and offering appropriate support, perhaps this person is simply not right for the practice.

Jamie Morley is the author of Lead Your Dental Practice available at

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