Motivate your dental team!

Motivation can come from many sources. Abraham Maslow summed up the main human motivators in his Hierarchy of Needs assessment. Maslow says our most primal and basic need is survival, and this motivates most of our decision-making in work and in life. From there, human beings want social connections, esteem, achievement and recognition, and finally, self-actualization. Using Maslow’s philosophy, these simple tips can help you really motivate your dental team:

It All Starts With You

In your office, staff will look to you, the dentist, owner, proprietor, and CEO, for cues about motivation and workplace behaviors. If you are motivated mainly by making money and survival needs, the employees will often follow suit.  If patient-care and customer service is your motivation, expect those same qualities to blossom in your staff.  What is your ultimate vision for your practice? How will your office serve both the public and the people who work there?  By communicating the answers to these questions to your team, you can provide better guidance as to what the practice stands for, what will be tolerated, what is not tolerated, what will be rewarded, and what will be disciplined.

Becoming Service-Oriented

Strive for a customer-service-oriented approach and align yourself with being the best dental professional you can be.  This ethos will naturally permeate your workplace. While it isn’t realistic to expect all of your staff to see their job as a road to self actualization, you can create a professional atmosphere that allows your staff to meet their needs for social connection, esteem and recognition by working in your office.  Some of the best ways for accomplishing this include:

Cultivate an Atmosphere of Respect

Create a workplace atmosphere that’s based upon mutual respect and regard among all staff.  Make it clear that anything less will not be tolerated.

“Walk the walk”

If you want your staff members to treat clients well and place a premium on customer service, make sure you are treating customers accordingly.  Anything you wish your staff to do, you must embody.


As with all successful relationships, communication is key. Staff who know they are listened to and heard will come to trust and know that they will be treated well in the workplace. This fosters loyalty and the motivation to do their job well.

Fostering Friendships

Employees who feel a personal connection with their co-workers are far more likely to report enjoying their job.  Schedule regular social outings with staff, such as dinner once a month, so that you can all get to know each other and really bond.

Sharing the Success of Your Practice

Let’s face it: when it comes to our careers, making a good living is the top motivator for most people.  Schedule regular performance reviews and offer incentives for when your business does well, such as a profit-sharing program. Merit raises, as well as staff bonuses, as motivators.  Reward your dental team for bringing in new clients and when they successfully sell the services you offer.  Apply this same appreciation, reward-driven mindset, and nurturing presence to your patient base and watch the new clients start rolling in.

Motivation’s roots lie in the need to feel safe, respected and valued. Use these tips to motivate your staff and keep your dental practice growing and thriving.