Orthodontic Practice Culture: The Importance of It & 10 Power Questions to Build It

Orthodontic practice culture is important.

There are ways to build it through powerful questions.

What leaps to mind when you think of great workplace culture? Maybe the Scandinavians, with their 30-hour work week and fika culture that makes employees so very happy; perhaps, you never considered  workplace culture very much in your own orthodontic practice.

You may be interested to know that, according to Forbes Magazine, workplace culture, as well as –  having a strong, aligned and ‘on-purpose’ team that adheres to it, – literally means the difference between success and failure for modern-day organizations.

Does this matter to your orthodontic practice?

Of course, it does! Unlike a tech start-up, your practice is unlikely to implode within 30 days if employees aren’t fully engaged. On the other hand, you could face long-term stagnation, increased cost of patient acquisition, and lower fulfillment without it.

If you don’t want to be leaving money on the table and having your work life suffer for it, looking at orthodontic practice culture is essential. Here is how you can build the culture and hence, the practice that you really want.

Practice Culture Importance

The reason why culture can set your practice apart is that there are so few differentiators anymore. You, like all your competitors, are a great orthodontist with access to the latest equipment, technology and best practices.

So, why would people choose you instead of the other guys?

Of course, you have built a base of loyal dentist and patient referrers, but loyalty isn’t what it once was. To keep patients coming back, you need to build a culture that people willingly return to, and refer others to, because they consider you as a friend, not just a faceless professional.

Achieving this can involve subtleties that go far beyond practitioner skill and into the realm of total sensory experience. Such as, how your practice smells, how all your staff greet patients, how you communicate results…

Since it only takes seconds for someone to form an impression – one that will leap to mind the moment someone thinks of your clinic – it obviously has to be as positive as possible to increase both patient and dentist advocacy.

The problem is, there are so many moving parts. You may be Maybe you’re getting it right with the first exam, then dropping the ball during routine visits with long wait times or a dismissive attitude.

Naturally, there will always be people who have an aversion to treatment acceptance, but in general, do your patients feel a sense of excitement and anticipation coming to your practice? Are they eager to see how you are going to improve their lives?

Are they showing off your work on social media and recommending you to their friends and family members? Or do they feel resentment or even dread coming in?

These are difficult questions. The facts remain, since orthodontic treatment may not be a necessity, your patients could not only choose the competition, they could simply opt out of treatment altogether if they are less than happy.

Here is how to build an amazing, positive orthodontic practice culture by asking power questions to yourself and your team.

10 Power Questions to Build Orthodontic Practice Culture

  1. Who do we hire? Robert Richman, author of The Culture Blueprint, states that culture is designed by whom you hire and by establishing what language and actions are acceptable for them. If you don’t have a strong company mission and values, you not only have nothing to guide your employees, you won’t know who to hire in the first place to help you fulfill that mission and those values.
  2. What are we proud of around here? It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers, overlooking the many accomplishments, large and small, which build your practice. The “dino” toothbrush given with a caring smile to a child could be much more significant than you think.
  3. Who do I put first? My clients or my employees? We have heard so much about the patient-centric approach that it can be easy to forget  it is you and your staff who will be delivering the services, day in and day out. If your staff is unsatisfied or their needs unmet, how will they be able to provide consistently positive service to your patients?
  4. Am I a boss or a coach? This may be a challenge. Millennials are not the only cohort who want to be mentored, developed and motivated. Not many people like to be  micromanaged or bossed around. You will not only need to guide your employees to fulfill your practice purpose, you will need to do it in a way that isn’t bossy or preachy.
  5. Who do you admire most on your team and why? Recognizing and celebrating the positive traits of your staff will help improve your own skills while motivating employees who realize you are noticing their performance.
  6. As a leader, am I engaged?As easy as it is to point fingers at a staff who don’t seem to be supporting the workplace culture, a strong orthodontic practice culture starts at the top with your guidance and motivation. If you are concerned about your leadership abilities, consider creating new opportunities for learning, skill-building and personal growth. Personal development isn’t just for the rest of the team!
  7. What is wrong with this picture? It is hard to take a good look at your practice with a critical eye. Keep in mind ‘zapping tolerations’ is important. Perhaps you have become used to the cracked chairs, that ugly painting or the office gossip that permeates your practice… Now, if you could wave a magic wand and change something (or everything), would you? And, could you share it with your team and get their ideas for solutions?
  8. What is right in this picture? This one is even more important than question 7. Focusing on the positive brings it to the forefront, allowing you to do more of what is good while applying the same principles to areas of your practice that may need improvement.
  9. Can I admit my flaws? One misconception about strong leadership is that employees will not respect someone who appears vulnerable. In fact, showing your humanity and owning up to your mistakes, will motivate others to trust you, to be able to recognize and improve their own shortcomings and, most importantly, model how to deal with negativity in a healthy way.
  10. How often do I ask my team what they want and what they need? You know those ‘motivational meetings’ where you are told “what has to change”? How much nicer would it be  to be asked for your opinion, for what you need, for what would be most helpful and supportive to you? Asking your team for their input on what they need, both as team members and as individuals, is crucial to building a strong team and hence, the orthodontic practice culture you desire.

The Takeaway

You already have an orthodontic practice culture – whether you are aware of it or not. If that culture is not supporting a successful orthodontic practice where employees want to stay, where your patients are your best friends, and where you are free to practice your talent in a joyful and comfortable environment, it’s time to take a closer look at it.If you have not intended to create the orthodontic practice culture of your dreams, now is the time – and Novologik’s orthodontic software, OrthoNovo can help you free up time to create it.


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