“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

This quote by Alexander Den Heijer is one that can shift your perspective immediately. It clearly identifies where you should direct your focus when a team member is struggling to thrive in your dental practice.

In the context of your practice, the quote can be rewritten as: “When a team member doesn’t bloom, you fix the practice in which she isn’t growing, not the team member.”

The following are a few methods I suggest to improve the environment in which your team members are expected to bloom. 


There are several ways to train team members. 

  • Provide a detailed instruction manual,
  • Have trainee team members shadow an experienced team member and see for themselves how tasks are to be performed,
  • Role-play,
  • Implement off-site and online team training events (such as the online JPPS On-Demand Webinar Series).


Identify any barriers to learning by having a discussion with team members. There may be a conflict with another member of the team, lack of confidence or simply lack of understanding what is expected of them.


Impatience and frustration will result if you have unrealistic expectations of team members’ progress. We would love it if all we had to do was provide instruction once and then a new skill is learned. However, this is simply not the case. Depending upon the complexity of the skill, most people need the chance to practice the skill many times to become competent. Are you patient enough? How often are you expressing, or demonstrating, your frustrations? 


Pair your trainee with another team member who can act as their ‘buddy’. A buddy will help the trainee make adjustments to the way they manage each task so they consistently improve. A buddy acts as a coach, cheerleader and mentor. 

I encourage all dental practice owners and managers to display in their office the quote by Alexander Den Heijer. It will serve as a useful reminder to create the ideal environment for your team to bloom, grow and flourish, as it surely will if team members are blooming, growing and flourishing.