Award-winning Dental Nurse Emilia Forrester, shares her hints and tips on how to maintain a happy team.
In practice I sometimes observe frustration from patients being directed towards the team who are genuinely doing their best to provide excellent patient care. This can be quite disheartening at times. So, I feel the practice team should always be motivated. However, unfortunately motivation is often overlooked and this is where I step in at my dental practice.
I always motivate my team, encourage staff and give positive feedback. For example, one of my receptionists, Holly, for Halloween carved some beautiful pumpkins for the practice. They were absolutely amazing. I was so impressed when I saw them I gave her feedback right away and then made sure she got a massive shout out across social media too. She deserved to know that her efforts were appreciated. She took the time outside work to create those pumpkins and I was so impressed.
Team building is essential
Another way to motivate your team is through team-building activities. This is probably one of the most important investments dental practices can make to improve the overall dynamics of the team. It’s also very easy. Spending quality time together outside work, working towards a goal or just having fun times together I feel, can have magical power.
At our practice we organise evenings out with the team, like bowling for example. But also, we have themed lunches where every single team member will bring something to the lunch. We do this for Halloween, Christmas and so on. We’ve also done a buffet which we called ‘around the world’. So every team member brings a dish from a different country and it’s fun to have lunch together and just talk.
Also, for the summer, my boss is organising a massive barbecue so that all of the team can come together socially. Which is great as I feel when you work together at the practice, you often don’t have the time to communicate and talk about your personal life. We are just so busy. So, spending quality time together outside work will bring the team closer together and boost morale.
Effective communication is key
It also helps with communication, which plays a huge role in creating an effective team. Communication will improve work performance, help us to achieve goals and improve planning in the practice.
I have five tips to improve communication.
Tip number one: before each session, a dentist and a nurse should have a briefing together. The aim is to discuss your patients. If you have anything specific you need for that day, like a goodie bag or a birthday card, sorting that before you start to see patients will help your session to run smoother. I always advise people to do this as part of their routine every single day.
Tip number two: give each other feedback. Feedback is essential for you to grow and learn, and it doesn’t matter if you are a nurse, a dentist or a hygienist. Each one of you can give feedback to another. For example, at the end of the day you can ask your nurse or dentist, ‘How do you think today went?’ ‘Do you think we can do anything different with X patient?’ Or you can say something like, ‘I really love the way you did X, Y, Z today. Should we do this more often?’
Tip number three: use task management software. At our practice we use Exact Software, which has a tasking feature, which I absolutely love. It allows me to keep track of what needs to be done and review progress I’ve made towards completing my tasks.
Tip number four: listening and giving undivided attention. Active listening will build trust and strengthen bonds.
Just stop and reflect for a second… when was the last time you noticed a colleague wasn’t listening when you were trying to communicate. How did it make you feel? Do you stop and listen to others? If I’m having an important conversation and a colleague of mine is not listening and not paying attention, I’ll challenge it right away. And if I ever lose my attention because it can happen I’m only human, I’ll apologise and I’ll make sure I give one hundred percent presence thereafter.
Tip number five: the last one, but probably the most important one is gratitude. I can’t stress enough how important is to show gratitude and appreciation. A simple thank you goes a long way and it doesn’t matter who you are in the team, each one of you can give positive feedback or thanks to another.
For example, you are running half an hour late but for the very first time, your dentist starts to wipe the surfaces down and prepare for the next patient while you do the decon. In a case like this you should express your gratitude and say how great it made you feel. By doing that they will probably do it again.
These are things people can implement very easily. Some of them are almost just common sense. But sometimes it’s good to be reminded of them.
Emilia Forrester is an award-winning dental nurse with an extensive list of qualifications. She moved from Poland in 2005 and qualified as a dental nurse back in 2009. Her passion for dental nursing and the opportunity to progress has helped her to gain great success in her career. This has culminated in her being awarded Best Dental Nurse overall (UK) for 2021, Best Team Member 2021, Best Dental Nurse North 2022, the finalist 2023 Dentistry Awards and The Probe Awards.
Currently, Emilia is working as Treatment Coordinator and Performance and Standards Manager at Thurmaston Dental & Implant Studio in Leicester. Emilia has a special interest in customer service, team motivation and inspiration. She gets actively involved in different community projects and regularly attends local schools to teach the youngest population about their oral health.
Over the last couple of years, she has been published in dental news and local papers sharing her story to inspire and offer advice and tips to others so they too can maximize their potential through dental nursing. Emilia, an accomplished speaker, has graced numerous Dentistry Shows and has exciting public speaking projects lined up for 2024. She is also the East Midlands representative for The Society of British Dental Nurses (SBDN).
Outside of dentistry her passion is baking and cooking. She has a YouTube channel called- The Headless Chef.