Croner, the HR and employment law specialists, provide suggestions for improving teamwork within your dental practice.
The way colleagues work together has a direct impact on the effectiveness of a practice, from a patients’ initial perception of the staff to building a strong reputation. There are steps you can take to encourage good teamwork within your practice.
The start of employment is an opportunity to shape the future success of the employee within their role. Rather than leaving new employees to forge their own working relationships, provide an opportunity for the new starter to be introduced to the team and to key members of the practice. A buddy system, where the new starter is allocated a ‘buddy’ in the form of a tenured colleague, provides a positive working relationship from the outset which, in turn, encourages the new starter to feel comfortable and network with other colleagues.
Whilst training sessions often focus on professional or technical needs, teamwork can be aided by providing all members of staff with soft skills training. For example, carrying out communications training will provide employees with the tools to interact with colleagues appropriately, whether over email or verbally, and help avoid misunderstandings that can lead to a breakdown in working relationships. Traditional team-building exercises can be undertaken, with popular activities including away-days or work-organised social events. Employees should not be placed under pressure to attend these activities, however, they should be arranged so they are inclusive of the whole team.
Teamwork can only be effective where the team understands what they are working towards. Therefore, having targets or objectives will help focus employees on the common goals. This allows them to collaborate within the practice to meet these goals, and then celebrate the success of their effective teamwork or review what improvements are necessary if the goal is not met. Targets should be communicated to all members of staff, with updates on progress provided periodically to help motivate and encourage employees.
How employees are managed can also have an impact on teamwork. Those who are micromanaged may not feel they are a trusted member of the team whilst those who are left to their own devices may feel segregated from their colleagues. Good people management is a skill in itself, and ongoing training ensures good techniques are used that contribute towards teamwork. Consulting with the team, listening to ideas and celebrating achievements are all steps that managers can take to bring members of the team closer together.
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