There are many ways to motivate an orthodontic team. In fact, there are probably hundreds of ways—the options are truly infinite. Of course, there are some strategies that work far better than others in creating both a highly motivated team and a highly enjoyable working environment. Here are three excellent ways to motivate your team:

1. Provide excellent leadership. The starting point of excellent leadership is to develop core values that are clearly understood by both doctors and team members. Core values represent the principles, essence, and even soul of the practice. They are immutable and should not change. Once they are established, and if the leader lives by them and continually reminds the team about them, they will go a long way towards motivating the team. Team members are proud to be part of a practice with a strong set of core values and will work hard to excel.

2. Offer incentives. Everyone wants to have a guaranteed amount of income that will allow them to live their lifestyle. However, once that guarantee has been made and the first few paychecks are delivered, it becomes routine. Routines are not typically motivating, but incentives are. There are several different bonus systems that we frequently recommend that range from all team-oriented bonuses to specific small payments for consistently accomplishing a certain desirable result. The key is to understand what the practice wants to achieve and set incentives accordingly. As one brilliant executive coach once told me: “People do what you pay them to do.” If incentives are properly established and galvanized around specific actions that are desirable for the practice, performance will be enhanced.

3. Treat your team members as colleagues rather than subordinates. We find that teams in top 10% practices have the highest levels of delegation and empowerment. This simply means that they have greater responsibility than we see in many other practices and they are empowered to make decisions and handle situations on their own. Another way to look at treating team members as colleagues rather than as subordinates is to understand the difference between adult-child relationships and adult-adult relationships. In adult-adult relationships team members are treated as equals, expected to perform as equals, and given the necessary training and encouragement to act like an equal. This allows doctors in top 10% practices to focus on patient care and production which is exactly what they should be doing.

There are many ways to motivate a dental team. The three strategies outlined above are some of the best. As you implement the recommendations in this article you may find that initially, team members may feel uncomfortable. However, once they understand the new attitude and philosophy of the practice, they will quickly be motivated to perform at an even higher level.

Roger-LevinRoger 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 dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States 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].