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Only 33 percent of workers feel “engaged” in their work, according to a recent study by Gallup. Worldwide, these numbers are even worse at just 13 percent of workers saying they are engaged!

I believe that life is largely about learning and growth. They do not teach us this in dental schools. And I have learned more by surrounding myself with intelligent people, by experiencing life, by taking risks, and by struggling and evening failing occasionally. Actually, a lot. And through my learning and challenges, I have not been bored and I have been fully engaged to learn from my mistakes.

Through it all, I’ve observed that the best leaders encourage learning by intentionally and consistently elevating their team so they can stay engaged and grow.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is when team members feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the office, and put additional effort into their work. Engaged team members have the freedom to do what they do best, opportunities to develop their job skills, and are allowed to contribute their opinions as part of their work. Engagement is directly related to positive business outcomes. 

How Do Dental Offices Stay at the Top of Their Game?

Working as a temp in over 100 offices in the Atlanta area, I noticed two things the most successful and engaged practices shared in common: a growth and ownership mindset.

Top employers create a culture of team members who think and act like owners. What I witnessed working in so many different offices as a temp hygienist was that those who offered bonuses, profit-sharing or aligned employee goals with practice’s goals were the ones that thrived. When employees understand that the practice’s financial success is tied to their own, magic happens. 

  1. Setting Transparent Goals: One dentist that I worked with set transparent goals for his office, with a clear revenue goal attached. The team had unified goals and everyone played a part to get us there. If someone on the team had another agenda or did not pull their part, the team figured it out. Everyone was on board and was given the support needed to achieve the team goal. The dentist took us to continuing education classes and regularly hosted lunch n’ learns. We were challenged, stimulated, and always growing. He backed up his words with actions, and it was clear to all that he believed in our ability to achieve the goal. 
  2. Establishing a Growth Mindset: Another successful office invested in a similar strategy. They made a commitment to spend time on the front-end creating a comprehensive onboarding process. Everyone was happy to help bring a new team member up to speed.

It makes no sense to have your best team members move on to the next dentist because they don’t feel valued, challenged or invested in. Employees experience a state of deep engagement as they learn, grow and gain traction. Maintaining the learning curve is crucial – you can always find new challenges and long-term team goals.

So, how does a company stay at the top of their game and become the kind of boss people love to work for? 

  1. Have a common team goal with a revenue pool. Squeeze out entitlement. 
  2. Encourage learning and progress toward a new learning curve. Keep them out of the boring part of the curve. 

Be a Leader to Love

The best leaders encourage learning and elevate their team. A closed mindset comes from scarcity. I have heard dentists say, “But what if I train them, then they leave?” I prefer to think, “Oh, but what if you train them and they stay?”

Being a leader who invests in employees and their engagement is what attracts and keeps team members. It is crucial in this job climate! When we spend a third of our lives at work, why not create a team and place, where you, and the people who work for you, love to work? 


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