The Magic for Your Practice of Having a Team of Servants

Poor attitudes in dental practices are not uncommon. Despite implementing systems and processes that support a customer-centric style of service, practices can still experience poor team-member behaviour.

Common examples of apathetic, negative behaviour that I see in our consulting work, or that are reported to me, are:

  • unhelpful response to patient requests or queries
  • sitting around when there are jobs to be done
  • ignoring or avoiding other team members who may appreciate assistance
  • walking over rubbish instead of picking it up and discarding it

What makes a team member shift from enthusiasm to apathy?

One reason is their mindset.

Our behaviours are driven by our mindset. If a team-member is functioning from an ego-centric mindset, then they are thinking WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?) They look for ways to reduce the energy they need to expend and increase rewards.

However, team-members who have a ‘servant’ mindset exhibit behaviours that are primarily in service to others’ needs, not their own.

I acknowledge that every person is driven by ‘selfish’ needs, but servants are driven by an ‘enlightened selfishness’!

You may also have heard the term ‘servant leadership’. You may even practice this effective method in the management of your team.

Servant leadership places the needs of the team above the leader’s personal needs and plays an active role in team development and performance improvement.

It is this same ‘servant’ mindset that is needed for the delivery of high-level customer service to your patients.

Servant mindset characteristics are:

  • enthusiasm
  • helpfulness
  • actively searches for ways to assist patients and colleagues
  • strong listening skills
  • high awareness of others
  • generosity

Dental teams with a servant mindset are the ones who become known for their great service.

So how can you foster a shift to this powerful mindset in your practice? Here are four practical steps you can take immediately:

  1. Announce the shift as an addendum to your Customer Service Policy. At your next team meeting, discuss with the team the current behaviours that would change with a servant mindset. Be specific (without finger-pointing) so team members can easily understand and embrace how the mindset shift will lead to a change of actions and behaviours.
  2. Lead by example. Let others see you in service to your patients and to your team members and encourage them to do the same. If you see a piece of rubbish on the floor, pick it up yourself.
  3. Allow time for successful implementation. Give your team members time to self-regulate and adjust to the new mindset.
  4. Acknowledge positive efforts. Reward the behaviours you want repeated. This will motivate them to continue improving and confirms that they are on the right track.

By taking these four steps at least, you will soon see an almost magical, positive impact.

If there are team-members who resist this positive change and exhibit no eagerness to get on board, a problem within your team has been identified. Negative people can have a damaging and corrosive effect on your practice and swift management of this situation is needed. Harvard Business School research shows that in teams of up to 40 people, just two negative influencers can create large problems.

The function of dental practices is to provide service to their patients. Adopting the servant mindset in your practice could be the invigorating change that your practice needs to have a powerful and highly satisfying experience for the whole team.