Best of 2015: Hygiene Development within the Group Dental Setting

Dental Groups spend thousands of hours and dollars each year to develop and grow their dental hygiene teams. Some of these groups achieved great results, while others have struggled to obtain a strong ROI for their efforts. Some groups have even gone as far as to write off the idea of any future training or development due to the mediocre results.

There may be several factors of why the initiatives are not sticking, but often the lagging results are due to the lack of full group commitment and follow up.

Whenever a new initiative or standard is implemented, the hygiene team will rely on the leaders of the dental group to consistently hold them accountable to the goals and the standards set. I have heard many teams say, “We will do this for a while, and then it will become old news…”. Do not allow the team to believe your groups’ initiatives are temporary.

Whether you are implementing a periodontal therapy program, or a new recall process, you need to set a clear standard for your team and communicate how you will measure the success of that initiative. You must have the resources available to make it a success.

Here are five steps you should follow with each initiative you introduce to your hygiene team:

  1. Hygiene Leadership Team: When introducing a new protocol or system to your team, it is important to have a peer to help introduce, support, and follow up on the initiative. The dental hygiene teams will respond better to someone who has walked the walk and talked the talk. Before introducing another hygiene initiative, make sure you have a team of hygiene leaders/champions or mentors to develop, and lead this charge.
  2. Set the standard, measure, and communicate it: Everyone on the team must understand what they are trying to achieve (the standard) and what success looks like. You should measure that “success” using a measurable goal, metrics or Key Performance Indicator. Be transparent with what/why you are measuring. Even if the goal is financially related, you must clearly represent that goal to the team. If not, they will not take the goal seriously and may feel there is a hidden message behind it.
  3. Consistent follow-up and benchmarking: As leaders, we must continually track performance and ensure the team understands the standard and the goals. Your hygiene leadership/mentors should review performance using these goals, and do it often and on a regular basis.
  4.  Mentor & Coach: Your hygiene leadership team must provide feedback and coach the team regarding their performance. Your team deserves the support and guidance necessary to meet the desired goals. If the goals are important to the organization, than you must commit to mentoring the team to achieve these goals.
  5.  Celebrate Success: Once a goal is accomplished, celebrate the success with your team. The team needs to see and feel what success is all about. This will fuel them to reach the next goal you set out for them!

Once you have achieved the desired results and move onto the next initiative on your list, do not lose focus on your past improvement items. This initiative should continue to be a topic of focus, it should be measured and communicated consistently.   Remember, once you stop the conversation the initiative will become old news.

The biggest failure is to implement an important initiative without a follow up plan. Do not let the busyness of each day, and the multiple initiatives within the group, stop your focus on follow up and accountability. You MUST consistently and constantly be discussing your important initiatives and their related metrics. By losing focus, the team will lose respect and faith in the process and start to question the group and the focus of the leaders.

Create a hygiene leadership team, set goals, communicate them, track them, provide mentoring and celebrate success.   This is your simple recipe to developing a strong, profitable and high-functioning hygiene team.

EH 2color logoHeidi Photo May 2013 2

Heidi Arndt RDH, BSDH is the CEO and Founder of Enhanced Hygiene, where they partner with dental groups to create profitable and engaged hygiene teams. Heidi has worked in private practices, dental group practices, teaching at dental hygiene programs and was a clinical hygienists at the Mayo Clinic. She is passionate about expanding the knowledge of the dental hygiene team, so they are true partners within the dental practice.