Management + Leadership

4 tips for building a winning dental team


Right after a pediatric residency, I leapt into a thriving, bustling practice and from day one I was able to plug myself in with relative ease. It wasn’t until a little later that I realized my comfort in practicing in this practice centered on existing systems and personnel established by the leader of the practice. But how did the right people end up in their roles? How were they selected? How were they trained? These questions slowly became evident as I watched and learned.

Your team represents your practice philosophy and is the most important marketing/advertising you can ever have. Team member selection is crucial to your overall practice success.

Selection may be a role that you as the dentist take on, or you may delegate part of that role to an office manager. Either way, it’s likely that hiring someone will be your decision one or many times in your career.  Here are some ways that I have seen selection become systemized and objective in order to ease the challenge of hiring:

  1. In the interview, work through a pre-determined question template. This allows for consistency when comparing interviews. Thus, making comparison between multiple candidates a little bit easier. Questions may include very basic communication preferences, to more detailed probing regarding why they are seeking a new position or leaving their current position. The needed dialogue is to ask a very similar set of questions to all those who are interviewed.
  2. Encourage other members of your team to do a “drive by.” This is a great way to snag a first impression if your office manager is conducting the interview. This first impression could be similar to what your current and future patients may experience. This technique also allows additional staff input during debriefing before the final decision.
  3. Don’t hesitate to do a working interview. This seems to be a no-brainer for a chair-side dental assistant. Asking the potential hire to come in and get their hands wet can really assist in making your decision for you.
  4. Whatever you do, harken back to your dental school interview and try not to replicate it. The more comfortable you allow someone to be, the more likely you’ll get a natural read from the conversation. Consider conducting the interview sitting side-by-side, removing a barricade like a desk or table or even conduct the interview while walking through the office giving a tour. Anything to get a more natural read of the candidate will benefit your team in making a decision.

There are a plethora of large-scale human resources out there to promote jobs. A systematic and well-constructed interview process is absolutely necessary in order to ensure successful candidate selection.

~Dr. Adam Shisler, pediatric dentist, 2011-12 ASDA president

Dr. Adam Shisler

Dr. Adam Shisler is a board certified pediatric dentist in private practice. Dr. Shisler is a member of a small group practice with three locations in the greater Houston area. As a student, Dr. Shisler served ASDA in many capacities including president from 2011-2012; he is a proud graduate of the University of Texas School of Dentistry.

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