Attracting Peak Performers for 21st Century Private Dental Practices – Part 2

July 10, 2023

Attracting Peak Performers for 21st Century Private Dental Practices (Part 2 of 2).

This is the second in our series on the subject of attracting top talent for your private dental practices. Read Part 1.

What workplace factors motivate employees to give their very best effort? Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg identified two basic incentives he believed we all have for working: 

1. Hygiene factors. These include salary, hours, fringe benefits, vacation, sick pay, etc. Hygiene factors are anything quantitative that is inherent in the job. 

2. Motivation factors. These factors are attitudinal and most often cannot be quantified. They exist within the person and are not part of the organization. Dr. Herzberg discovered five main motivation factors:

Recognition. The desire to be seen as an important person. 

Fulfillment. The ability to satisfy personal values. 

Growth. The desire for a future of choice which is not limited to a job description. 

Shared Information. The need to have access to information on more than a “need to know” basis. 

Autonomy. The desire for independence and responsibility with authority. 

Research has indicated that low achievers tend to favor hygiene factors in their jobs. They want standards imposed upon them. High achievers, on the other hand, expect a high level in hygiene factors; they demand a high level in motivation factors. For these people, excellence is an internal issue, not something to which they have to be directed. 

Low achievers are stressed by the uncertainty that high achievers want. High achievers hate the rigid structure and rules that give low achievers their security. Thus, a dental practice will greatly affect which type of person it attracts and keeps by the choices it presents. 

To recognize high achievers, look for the following attributes: 

1. Optimism 

2. Participation in life 

3. Seeing themselves as significant 

4. Possessing mission and drive 

5. Realism 

6. Energy 

7. Acceptance of others 

8. Good use of role models 

9. High sense of priorities 

10. Resilience 

11. Self-revealing 

12. Willing to make long-term intimate relationships 

The challenge, then, is not simply to attract highly talented people but to provide a structure and climate in the office that is supportive of their talents. If the practice is not organizationally and behaviorally prepared to deal with people of this caliber, this entire thought system should be avoided. 

As the necessity increases for dentists to find and retain peak-performing team members, it is worth reviewing why team members have historically left their employers. Reasons include: 

1. Lower than expected compensation 

2. No opportunity for advancement 

3. Not enough respect 

4. Not enough communication 

5. Lack of appreciation from their employer 

The following are suggestions to counteract these problems and help keep the peak performing team in private dentistry: 

Invest. Do not automatically hire the cheapest applicant. You generally get what you pay for. 

Prepare. Have a training program for the new team. Better results will be achieved when the team understands the doctor’s philosophy and mission. 

Focus. Establish clear and concise goals and objectives with the entire team. 

Educate. The challenge of continuing education creates a team that can be the dentist’s single most potent marketing advantage. 

Communicate. Many doctors seem to reserve their caring exclusively for the patient and neglect their teams. When communication is weak, motivation dies, and so does productivity. 

Disclose. Practice numbers should be disclosed to the team. How would you like to play football and never know the score? Good people will demand feedback, and sharing numbers increases the team’s attitude and feeling of ownership. 

Set a good example. The doctor should not reprimand the team for being late after lunch when s/he is also late. The doctor cannot expect loyalty, commitment to patients, and team play until the leader has these traits. 

Give respect. The doctor cannot give respect unless s/he is respected. The team likes to know that the doctor will stand behind them 100 percent in an issue with a patient. 

Don’t poor-mouth the practice to the team. A good way to keep gloom and doom is to preach gloom and doom. 

Show appreciation. The team does not feel appreciated simply by getting a paycheck. Money is important, but praise in front of co-workers or patients is also rewarding recognition. 

It is important to remember that good people will take longer to find, require a greater investment, and will be important to maintain over time. Ask yourself, how much more valuable is it to seek and maintain peak performers on the team than it is to own the latest piece of dental equipment? 

Author’s note: Having succeeded in attracting a peak-performing team, remember that they cannot continue to be compensated like the average employee.