How to manage your team during challenging times

The pandemic may be the biggest industry upheaval you’ll experience in your career as a dentist but ups and downs are a usual part of running a practice. So how can you keep your team happy when the going gets tough?

Nurturing a team environment

Fostering an environment where everyone feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves is important. Building a team doesn’t happen overnight. You need to:

  • Get everyone on the same page by clearly defining your goals for the practice. Measure your team’s success against those goals on a consistent basis.
  • Encourage inter-department accountability. Cross training helps to show individuals how different roles play a part in the whole.
  • Praise successful teamwork. Individual praise is important, too, but look for ways to celebrate wins as a team whenever possible.

A team that understands the practice vision, is accountable for individual actions, and supports one another won’t need to be told what to do in a difficult situation.

Have a game plan

A cheery demeanor and friendly smiles are fantastic for lightening the mood when things are rough, but your team will still need a plan. As the leader, your team will be looking to you for guidance during challenging situations. A game plan assures everyone that things will be OK and that there is an end in sight to the current difficulties. Even if your plan isn’t perfect, it’s your responsibility to decide on a course of action and get your team on board.

Be ready for varied behavior

People react differently to stressful situations. While certain rules and protocols must be followed no matter how taxing the crisis, you should also set your personal expectations accordingly and be patient with team members who might be struggling with the added pressure.

Crisis preparation begins beforehand

Practices that thrive in difficult situations are, not surprisingly, the same practices that thrive when everything’s going great. The number one trick to managing a team during a tough time is to have all processes, systems and fundamentals in place so they’re mostly able to manage the adjustments themselves.

Watch for burnout

Everyone can endure working extra hard for a short time frame, but nobody can do it indefinitely. Watch for burnout and act accordingly. It’s during those times when there’s not a spare minute for a break that everyone needs one most. Giving an exhausted team member a day off when you think you just can’t afford to might prevent them from quitting.