Cross Training in the Dental Office

If inefficient office procedures are weighing your practice down, it may be time to reevaluate your management style. One of the best ways to change up your management style is to cross train your employees and even share the responsibilities of management. This can lead to positive growth and help you lose the “boss stigma” as you become seen as an involved and supportive leader instead. 

How To Set it Up

Just how does this cross training look? It’s actually pretty simple. Beyond their current clinical or business role, each member of your team will be cross trained to also manage one particular system within the practice to help the team achieve growth in that area. This basically makes each person a systems manager for that particular area of the practice. 

<span>Photo by <a href="">Jon Tyson</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a></span>

To achieve real results, each systems manager should study and organize the system to obtain measurable results and produce progress reports. Being able to measure progress brings in a higher level of accountability for the whole team. The progress reports can then help the team make decisions together with input from the leader and can also serve as a good visual that can help push the team forward when needed. 

The Benefits

Not only can it help your practice to achieve growth, but cross training can make life easier by sharing the responsibilities of management. It can bring more organization to the management side, plus with the whole team involved, you will even see an increase in profit. It can also bring enthusiasm, especially to meetings, and your employees will develop the kind of emotional ownership that you may have been trying to instill previously with no results. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the benefits.


It goes without saying that the profit center of most dental practices is the time spent with patients. For the dentist who works a 30 hour week, the majority of those hours should be focused in the profit center and not on management. Furthermore, the remaining time should be spent on leadership as well. By spreading out the duties of management, it makes it possible for the dentist to spend over 90% of their time in the profit center. 


With the whole team now focused on the important management systems, this also frees up the dentist to focus on clinical dentistry. With the dentist focused more on the clinical side and a whole team of people making management decisions, this can lead to growth in size, quality or even in culture. Without an entire team focused on management, this can lead to a lack of resources and energy, and even cause higher staff turnover. 


By getting the whole team involved in some aspect of managing the practice, you are empowering your team. Cross training your dental staff can lead to feelings of a shared responsibility and more pride in improving the workplace and the practice. Plus, the progress reports that show measurable results can help keep employees from feeling bored or even burnt out with the day-in-day-out routine they would otherwise have. Cross training can increase team spirit, cooperation, problem solving and innovation. So, not only does it make your employees leaders in their own right and feel good about what they are doing, but it also makes your practice better in so many ways!

The Key Aspect

The key aspect to this whole restructuring are meetings! We suggest a systems report meeting at least once a month so that the team feels safe to make changes. And now, these meetings won’t be top-down, but more like a board meeting where each manager will have the opportunity to lead the meeting for a few minutes. These meetings are also a great time to brainstorm solutions to problems. Don’t forget to keep in mind that each system runs parallel, with all aspects of the business affecting each other. This is one of the reasons why meetings are crucial to achieving balance among all systems. 

What Systems to Manage

What systems need managing? The list could be endless. We recommend listing each system out in order of priority and then assign as many of them as you have staff members. Be sure that the person you assign to the system has some genuine interest in that system. Some examples of systems that need managing include:

  • The financial system
  • The scheduling system
  • The recall system
  • The inventory and ordering system
  • The new patient activity system
  • The internal marketing system
  • The continuing education system
  • The health and hazard communication system

Once these systems are managed, others may stand out like laboratory-case coordination or equipment maintenance. 


The role of your managers may continue to evolve slowly as you find new areas to cross train in or as new issues arise. With the whole team on board sharing the responsibilities of management, you can create a sense of empowerment among your staff, create positive growth and increase your efficiency and profits!