Fostering Productivity in Dental Practice: Effective Communication with Temp and Full-Time Staff


Effective communication is the cornerstone of productivity, case acceptance, and patient satisfaction in a dental practice’s bustling environment. Whether interacting with full-time employees or temp professionals, how communication is tailored can significantly impact the clinic’s overall functioning and atmosphere. Recognizing the nuances between these two groups and understanding that not all communication is created equal are essential steps toward fostering a cohesive and productive workplace.

Temp workers,  also called locums, are crucial in filling temporary staffing gaps and ensuring continuity of care within dental practices. However, communicating with temps requires a nuanced approach due to their transient nature within the clinic. Unlike full-time employees who are likely ingrained in the clinic’s culture and routines, temps may lack familiarity with the clinic’s protocols and expectations. Therefore, clear and concise communication becomes paramount.

When engaging with temps, providing as comprehensive onboarding as possible (given the circumstances) to outline the practice’s policies, procedures, and patient demographics is essential. This ensures temps know how to integrate into the team and deliver quality care seamlessly. Additionally, maintaining open lines of communication throughout their tenure allows temp dental professionals to seek clarification or assistance whenever needed, thereby minimizing potential disruptions to workflow.

Furthermore, adapting communication styles to accommodate the temporary nature of locum positions is crucial. Unlike full-time employees who have established relationships and rapport with their colleagues, temps may require more direct and explicit instructions to navigate unfamiliar environments efficiently. There is a difference between being gruff and being direct. Being more direct allows the establishment of clear expectations, and regular feedback helps bridge the gap between short-term workers and the rest of the team, fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging.

In contrast, communicating with full-time dental practice employees involves different considerations. Full-time staff members are likely invested in the clinic’s success and are often more familiar with its inner workings. As such, communication with full-time employees can be more nuanced, focusing on collaborative problem-solving, professional development, and long-term goals.

Building trust and fostering a culture of open communication is essential for maintaining a productive clinic environment among full-time staff. Encouraging active listening and soliciting feedback empowers employees to contribute their ideas and concerns, leading to innovation and continuous improvement. Additionally, recognizing and acknowledging the contributions of full-time employees cultivates a sense of appreciation and loyalty, reinforcing their commitment to the clinic’s success.

Effective communication with short-term workers and full-time employees is vital for creating a harmonious and productive clinic environment. By recognizing each group’s unique needs and dynamics, dental practices can tailor their communication strategies to maximize efficiency and foster mutual satisfaction. Whether providing clear guidance to temps or nurturing collaboration among full-time staff, prioritizing effective communication lays the foundation for success in the ever-evolving field of dentistry.

My Five Take-Home Messages

1. Tailored Communication: Recognize the unique needs of short-term versus full-time staff and adjust communication styles accordingly to foster integration and productivity.

2. Comprehensive Onboarding: Whenever possible, provide thorough onboarding for temps to outline practice policies, procedures, and patient demographics, providing more seamless integration into the team and delivery of quality care.

3. Be Direct, Not Gruff: While interacting with temps, prioritize direct and explicit instructions to establish clear expectations, bridging the gap between temporary workers and the rest of the team without being harsh.

4. Cultivating Trust: Foster a culture of open communication among full-time staff, encouraging active listening, feedback, and recognition of contributions, leading to innovation, loyalty, and long-term commitment.

5. Prioritize Productivity: Effective communication with short-term and full-time employees is crucial for creating a harmonious clinic environment and maximizing efficiency, ultimately enhancing patient satisfaction and practice success.

Dr. Martin Mendelson is a leading speaker and founder of Metamorphosis Coaching, specializing in team cohesion, communication, and building happier, more productive teams.

Dr. Mendelson turned a devastating medical disablement from his clinical career into a passion for helping leaders through the science of mindset and positivity. He has worked with thousands of North American medical professionals and business leaders to feel less burdened by leadership, empowered to resolve challenges before they grow out of control and create transparent and open cultures where leaders and team members excel, thrive, and love.