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a blog by Chris Barrow

The ideal schedule for dental team conversations – a free download

In the bad old days, when I worked in corporate UK, there were some companies who employed a tactic called mushroom management, defined as:

keep your people in the dark and feed them fertiliser

OK – you know the last word wasn’t fertiliser but you get my drift.

The larger the company, the more it was deemed appropriate to separate small groups of people into silos, focused only on their own small area of influence and ignorant of the larger picture.

In the late 90’s and when I ran The Dental Business School workshops, I used to describe those practices who employed similar tactics, likening the staff to oarsmen on a Roman slave galley, down in the dark, chained to their seat and straining to the beat of the Practice Manager’s drum:

“where are we going?”

“no idea – just keep rowing.”

One of the benefits of the connected world in which we live is that it has become impossible for organisations or governments to do that any more.

There are no secrets and those who try and keep them are usually busted.

There is no dark.


My experience in recent months has been that the more you engage your team members in knowledge about the who, what, where, when and how of dental practice, the more you will get engagement back from the people you need to keep.

(Oh – and by the way, the more you will throw a spotlight on those to who need a goodbye wave)

It really doesn’t matter whether we are discussing a nurse/receptionist, a Practice Manager or a travelling specialist clinician – there are simply some people who are on the bus and others who are not.

In the connected world there are no secrets – neither is there any room in a business for a saboteur.

However, saboteurs flourish in an environment in which owners don’t take care of their teams.

It is more important than ever to be transparent with your team and also to invest the time in teaching them exactly how the whole business functions.

Every team member should be given regular updates on:

  1. how the business works financially and how the finances are performing right now

  2. how the marketing systems work and whether they are succeeding

  3. why the patient experience is so important and how to continuously improve

  4. how digital dentistry is changing the clinical landscape and where you intend to innovate

  5. how the team is evolving and the career pathways that are opening up within the business

  6. your overall strategy for the business – where we are going

In yesterday’s post I referenced the shadowing and mentoring of clinicians – this morning I’m extending that process to the whole team.

To pick up on a phrase from yesterday, the practices who struggle are those whose mantra might be:

same stuff – different day

That isn’t how an enlightened business works any more.

Which brings me to today’s free download.

The ideal schedule for dental team conversations.

Please download, print and think carefully about how often you meet with your team, compared to this schedule (and share this with others you might know who find team-building a challenge – this list could apply to any business or team).

I can already imagine those who will look at this list of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual get-togethers and think it either impossible or impractical.

Here’s the challenge – the best practices I have worked with over my 20+ years in dentistry have been those who came closest to this schedule – and used the conversations to train, educate, inspire and applaud.

All problems exist in the absence of good conversations.

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