DSO Leadership Tips: Why Culture Matters in the DSO Space

September 19, 2022

The importance of cultivating a strong company culture is often overlooked, despite the fact that it has risen to the top of potential candidates' most important job search criteria. This is especially true as younger dentists enter the workforce. Research even suggests that workplace culture may be just as important, if not more so than the salary and benefits offered.

According to a Glassdoor survey, "Millennials are more likely to place culture above salary than those age 45 and older". In the dental industry, where burnout is a common complaint, culture can make all the difference in employee retention and satisfaction. Consider the following points to determine whether or not your business is on the right path, and use them as a launching pad for discussion, evaluation, and reflection.

  1. Does your executive team feel "human" to your employees? Open communication, transparency, and approachability are essential leadership skills that contribute to a positive DSO culture. A positive culture allows employees to feel like they have a voice in the decisions that come from the top. Dentists working for DSOs frequently voice dissatisfaction when they feel overmanaged by executives far removed from their practices' day-to-day operations. As a DSO executive or owner, you must make an effort to make yourself visible and accessible to all members of your organization. Make time to get to know your dentists and employees as people rather than just professionals. Learn what their day-to-day is like on location, and cultivate a management style that balances leading with authority with personal connection.

  2. Are your corporate values and mission statement obvious and executed in the day-to-day work life of your employees? Actions speak louder than words, and this rings especially true when it comes to living out the values you establish for your organization. If you want your team to trust you, don't make empty promises; try to cut through the corporate speak when establishing a mission and vision statement. Use precise language that your employees understand, and be specific. If you want your company to truly embody your values, make them actionable. Routinely revisit your corporate values to evaluate whether or not you're living up to your set standards.

  3. Does your practice or company support causes that matter to your employees? Corporate social responsibility is growing in importance to employees everywhere. In simple terms, CSR is "a business's obligation to pursue achievable and good long-term goals for its people and the world at large." Participating in CSR not only reflects positively on your organization's brand perception to patients and investors, but internally, it can cultivate an environment of goodwill that fosters a sense of team unity. As your company grows, consider giving back to your community in ways that resonate with your employees. Start small and local, and expand from there.

  4. Do you recognize your employee's achievements? In the high-stress environment of a dental practice, it's important to keep morale high. Find ways to give back to your employees and celebrate their hard work and dedication. Dental professionals sometimes feel like a cog in the big machine in large DSO settings. Put processes in place for recognizing the individual value your employees bring to your DSO.

  5. Do your employees have growth opportunities? One of the top reasons dentists leave DSOs is because they feel like their careers are at a standstill with nowhere to grow. While most DSOs will contribute to continuing education, high turnover rates prove this isn't enough. At Operation Dental, we take an individualized approach to our dentist's desires for career advancement and work with them to reach their unique goals from a multifaceted perspective. We consider personal, professional, and financial goals and offer opportunities and relationships beyond what most dentists could find in private practice or standard DSO settings. There is no one-size-fits-all or cookie-cutter approach to the partnerships we form with our dentists, and this is a value we founded our organization upon.

At Operation Dental, we pride ourselves on a people before profits ethos that puts culture at the heart of everything we do. To learn more about career and investment opportunities, contact us here: operationdental.com/contact

About Operation Dental
Operation Dental is a people-centric DSO built around a servant leadership culture. CEO Dr. Peter Kelly and COO Matt Robinson created a unique organization where dentists can focus on being great clinicians, building wealth, and achieving their business and life goals. Operation Dental supports dentists with the resources they need to succeed while empowering them to maintain the personality and patient experience of a private practice.


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