Endo Mastery

Engaging the endodontic team for practice growth

Growth and greater success in the practice requires team buy-in, but many doctors experience resistance to change from team members.



Last month, I wrote about The Reluctant Leader’s Dilemma and this month I’m dealing with its companion: reluctant teams who push back against practice changes or new goals. Many doctors experience this from their team in general or from one or two team members, which is enough to sabotage their plans.


Technically speaking, a dental practice is not a democracy. The doctor is the owner, leader and employer and they do have final say on what does or doesn’t happen inside their business. However, “my way or the highway” approaches to leading teams are rarely successful when implementing new objectives. Heavy-handed management can enforce some level of compliance, but absolutely kills the collaboration, enthusiasm and unity needed for genuine team-driven growth. 

The sources of resistance

Teams need to be engaged in a positive way that encourages and stimulates their discretionary energy to focus on new goals. When you meet resistance, it’s important to recognize the source(s) of it. Common factors include:

When you try to implement changes, it always creates an uphill climb to overcome “the way we’ve always done it”. The new way, even before it is fully implemented and the kinks worked out, can appear much harder or much less effective, so the team tends to revert to the old ways when they have doubts.

For teams to engage, they must believe that the goals are worthwhile. Some goals, especially financial ones, are difficult for some team members to relate to. They generally feel you make a lot of money already. Always try to express goals in service to great patient care, support for referring doctors, or to improve daily enjoyment in the practice for everyone. For example, a financial growth goal can be translated into completing more cases, which can be translated to more responsive scheduling for patients in pain (team relatable), which translates into implementing a better scheduling strategy (new team goal).

Everyone likes to know they are doing a good job, and they are not going to be criticized at work. When you implement changes, you push your team out of their comfort zone of knowing their job perfectly. Changes require learning new skills and doing things they haven’t done before. That makes team members feel vulnerable to making mistakes or not meeting expectations from you or other team members.

If you haven’t had success with past initiatives, or there is a pattern in your practice of implementing new things and then rolling back changes after a short time, team members learn that your commitment is often temporary. You might come back from a course with some nuggets to try out as the “flavor of the month”. They know after a few weeks, your energy around it will subside and you’ll drop it.

Solutions to team reluctance

Addressing team resistance requires effort from practice leaders on multiple levels. Here are the key objectives to remember:

Your vision establishes the values and principles for your practice. Share this vision with your team regularly so they can become aligned and invested in a common objective.

Allowing team members to communicate openly, share their ideas and offer insights leads to better decision-making around the path forward. Fully engaged and collaborative teams often set more ambitious goals than the doctor expects, and they become the self-managing, self-accountable teams that truly drive success.

Few, if any, teams have within them the know-how to grow the practice without any other support. Doctors need to think about resources that help the team, which can include a budget, training, new technology or improved systems. The greatest impact on the team is going to come from engaging an outside expert or coach who can bring proven strategies and provide confident experienced advice they can count on.

Keeping the team engaged requires the practice leader to always be encouraging and to express their appreciation for the team’s results. Surprising your team with gifts or incentives enhances everyone’s enjoyment and makes the effort worthwhile. A bonus system driven by improved financial performance keeps teams invested and focused on growth.

Doctors need teams to achieve practice success. Teams need doctors to invest in them so they can become fully participating and collaborative team players. A terrific way to jumpstart collaborative team growth is at an Endo Mastery seminar or webinar where doctors and teams get inspired together. Join us!


Sign up to receive helpful practice management tips, debt elimination ideas, how to re-energizing your team, and much more.