How to get your orthodontic team members to start thinking like owners

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

One of the most powerful ways to advance your orthodontic practice is to start developing a culture of ownership mentality. Why? Because when orthodontic teams begin to think of themselves as owners, it changes how they think, act, and make decisions. As a result, the practice will begin to exhibit high-efficiency performance.

Ownership mentality means that team members come to work every day ready to run their areas as if they own them. They will operate as if they are the final decision maker with the final say. This helps to decrease the daily deluge of questions fired at orthodontists and managers, accelerate productivity and profitability, and decrease stress. It also helps to raise the level of business savvy of every team member as they learn from the consequences—both good and bad—of their decisions.

Another benefit of ownership mentality is that your team members will have higher self-esteem based on their perceived authority and they will stay longer. Why would anyone leave a job that they enjoy and have a prominent role? In most cases you will build a better and higher longevity team. As any orthodontist knows, when you practice with a long-term, committed team that continues to improve, your practice will be much more enjoyable.

A Dynamic Shift

Unfortunately, no matter how much you want your team to start having an ownership mentality you can’t rush things. Creating a culture of ownership mentality takes time. It’s a dynamic shift in how the practice operates. At first, many team members won’t believe that what you are saying is what you really want. You’ll have to go over it many times until people start trying it and seeing your positive reactions. Then you’ll see your team’s excitement and satisfaction growing simply because they enjoy their jobs more than ever before.

Start Thinking Like Owners

So how do you get your team to start thinking like owners? Start by having a kick-off meeting where you lay out the concept of ownership mentality. But don’t expect everyone to be excited or even believe you. They will feel uncomfortable and won’t be sure that you mean what you say. You must continually promote the message throughout each day and compliment your team on how they display ownership mentality. I encourage practice leaders to compliment team members in front of other team members and patients. Let them know that they did a great job and thank them for taking the initiative.

Another good strategy to help encourage ownership mentality is to answer questions with a question. The next time a team member comes to you with a question, simply respond with a question that causes them to think of the answer themselves. When a team member comes up with a solution on their own, they begin to understand that it’s exactly what an owner would do.

If you want to build the most successful and enjoyable practice possible, you must create a culture of ownership mentality. When everyone acts like an owner, there is much less stress, inefficiency, and back-and-forth than ever before. Your team will be happier and more self-assured, and your practice will thrive. It’s really a win-win. OP

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email [email protected]