How many times have you said the above phrase to yourself? I cannot tell you how many time I've heard the same phrase come from my clients. Most dentists have the same 10 concerns in running their small business. Staff is usually one of, if not the top, in that list.
I have managed many different types of people over the years. At one point I had a staff of 40 while I worked in the restaurant business. Restaurant staffs are tough! Much like every server in LA is aspiring to the film industry or every cook in New York City wants to be the next Gordon Ramsay, even restaurant workers here in Western Massachusetts are something else first, a wife, a father, a musician, a teacher. Working in a restaurant is just a means to end, not a career choice for most. Conversely, your staff members have chosen the dental industry. This indicates at the very least an innate interest in the field. How can this help you in your management strategy?
Your staff is engaged in dentistry even before you hire them. They spent a great deal of time working to acquire the skills to work in your office. They did it on their own, without even knowing you or your patients. Now they'll use their skills to do a great job for you! All you need to do, is be the inspiration to get them to do just that.
My wife taught me the best management technique I ever learned. Keep in mind, she taught me this while she was my employee. Each person has a different motivation. Some of your staff might respond to a simple "great job today." Others may thrive on the special task that you asked them specifically to do. Your assistant may only need direction taking comfort in the routine.
Take the time to learn what each person needs to stay motivated. Use different techniques on each of your staff. Pat them on the back and say "Great job!" Make them a leader of a department for a day. Ask them about their ideas to improve the patient experience. I once had an employee that seemed to respond best after he was disciplined. If you take the time to learn, then use what you learn at the appropriate time. You'll find some, maybe most, of your staff problems may go away.