A Winning Team, a Winning Practice

This month we continue in the series of Fundamental Keys of Practice Success. In the past two issues we talked about the importance of location and the importance of stocking the right inventory, how it is merchandised and how it is priced. This month we will discuss the third, and frankly I think the most important, fundamental key to success – people.

The team you hire to work with you is the most important decision you make both initially and throughout the life of your practice. The ability to recruit, train and lead a talented team of professionals is a skill that can be learned and will make the difference between a high performance practice and one that exists as mediocre at best. In this column, I want to expound on these three skills.

Recruit the best

In the same manner that professional sports teams take great consideration in who they recruit to play for them, you should be put effort in recruiting the right people for your team. There are skills and abilities that are critical for a high performance team that cannot be taught and those are the skills you should recruit.

Attitude – You want a team with a strong, positive attitude. People who take 100% responsibility for themselves and their performance. This is a people business and you want to recruit people who like and enjoy serving others.

Work Ethic – As the principle provider in your small business, you don’t have time or the ability to constantly be making sure your team is doing their job. You need people who have a strong work ethic, show up early, willing to stay late and constantly look for ways they can add value to your patients and your practice.

Smart – This might seem obvious, but unfortunately our education system does not always produce results and therefore not everyone has the basic knowledge and, as important, common sense to handle work responsibilities. You want to recruit people who can understand circumstances and make judgments in how they should be handled. You do not want to hire people who, unless they have a list of things to do, will wait around for someone to tell them what to do.

Train and educate

Again, this might be obvious but most offices do not invest the time or effort inadequately training their team members. Education is a continual process and each team member should have an annual, personal development plan that is discussed and written down. As a new member joins your team, they should have a structured orientation and training schedule for the fundamentals of the position for which they are hired, regardless of how many years of experience they have had with a previous employer. You want to make sure they are trained to your expectations of product and technical knowledge.


Once recruited and trained, your team needs leadership. This is your responsibility. There are three basics to understand in order to provide effective leadership.

  • Modeling – People do not do what they are told, they do what the see. As the leader, you are setting an example by your own attitude and behavior. Be watchful, if you are unhappy with the way your team conducts itself, look in the mirror. If you want them on time, you be on time.If you want them to work hard, you demonstrate your commitment to going the extra mile.
  • Motivate – Early in my career I was told, “people will do for love what they will never do for money.” If you want a high-performance team, they must know that you care about and for them. You demonstrate this by providing a culture of security and an ongoing process of recognition.
  • Mentor – Team members who possess those unteachable qualities and have put the time and effort into becoming proficient in the product and technical areas required in a high-performance practice will want to grow professionally. This is good, you want people who desire to be better and an effective leader provides that mentorship. An effective leader is a teacher and wants to continually improve the capabilities of their team.

There are many examples of championships that have been won by talented teams that believed in themselves and their leader. A high-performance team of skilled professionals working together with a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and strong leadership is THE fundamental key of a successful practice. With it, anything can be accomplished, without it, a practice will never rise above being mediocre.

This column by John D. Marvin is published with permission from INVISION magazine.