Building a team of Rock Stars

Dr. Garth Hatch shows how team building can not only make your office more pleasant, but also create a team of rock stars!

Dr. Garth Hatch covers essential elements for a practice that runs in perfect harmony

Have you ever wondered what your average day would look like at the clinic if your entire team functioned like a well-trained, motivated team of Navy Seals (with smiles on their faces)? This image may not be what you would imagine for a team of endodontic dental professionals, but the idea of having a team where everyone is clear on the practice mission, understands their essential role in the success of the team, and can execute at a high-level sounds amazing. This quality of a team is achievable yet doesn’t happen by accident. It only happens with systems in place that begin with hiring the right team members that align with your practice vision, train them on their essential role and responsibilities so they understand what success looks like, continue to monitor their progress, make friendly course corrections as needed, and then hold them accountable for their performance.

For our office, we integrated the theme of training Rock Stars that are well trained at their job, see the vision of the practice which is emphasized during the hiring and training phase, and can turn on the shine when it’s show time in front of our patients.  We also borrowed the Disney theme for our team members of being “On-Stage” meaning they are in front of the public versus “Off-Stage” when they are behind the scenes in the breakroom, etc. This has helped remind all of us that despite what may be going on in our lives outside of the clinic, when it’s show-time, and we are on-stage with our patients and referring offices, we need to perform like rock stars. To accomplish this level of team, three things are critical to achieve this: hiring right, training, and monitoring progress. Let’s briefly cover each of these and then review essentials for Rock Star team members.

Hiring right

Hiring team members that are a good fit for the practice is critical to achieving a Rock Star team. All the training in the world won’t fix a person that isn’t aligned with the practice vision, has a negative attitude, or doesn’t “play well with others.” When we hire new team members, our top priority is assessing their people skills, customer service ability, and whether they are team players. Some of our best team members had little to no dental experience when we hired them, and we’ve learned that most other skills can be trained on the job. We have at least three separate interactions with a new hire that includes an interview with our office manager or lead assistant, an interview with the doctor, and a “working interview” where they come to work for 1-2 hours and just interact with the team in a more casual way.  Lots of discussions come up with the other team members that can solidify our desire to hire them or also notice red flags that we may want to keep looking for someone else. As my mentor Ace Georig would say, “Hire slow and fire fast.”


How are businesses like Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, and Zappos so legendary in the customer service realm? Primarily from hiring well and training, training, and more training. According to Joseph Michelli, PhD, Ritz Carlton provides at least 250 hours of training to new employees in the first year alone. As business owners, we often expect our employees to do or say things we would do or say, but unless we have trained them specifically in these areas, we can only blame ourselves for less-than-ideal performance. Training is a continuous process that never ends and should be reviewed at least monthly and annually. We’ve tried various training times and methods but currently we do several days of onboarding training upfront with new hires and team training twice a month and one annual retreat training session.  There’s no perfect way for each office to train team members, but you must establish and maintain a training process, or you likely won’t be happy with the unsaid training that is taking place.

Monitor progress

After hiring well and training your team, the next step is to monitor progress. This should be a continual process both formally and informally. Formally, we have annual reviews with our team members and provide goals for improvement that are established with both the team member and the office manager and or doctor. We also discuss issues and make corrections during our team meetings to try and fix performance that isn’t in alignment with our team vision. Warren Buffet recommends praising specifically and criticizing generally with employees, and I think this is wise to follow. If team members have been trained, retrained, spot corrected, and continue to perform below the standard, they may not be a good fit and need to be let free to find fulfillment elsewhere.

Building your Rock Star team

Here are some tips to help our office team members become R.O.C.K.S.T.A.R.S.

Results — What’s the big picture for your practice, and why do you do what you do every day? Clarity on the desired results and outcome for your practice will add excitement, fulfillment, and practice growth.

Ownership — This is everyone’s practice (not just the doctors)! You all derive your income from the same practice and should feel a sense of pride and ownership in your office. If things aren’t ideal now, be a positive catalyst for improvement.

Customer service excellence — You want to be customer service Rock Stars! See everything you do from the eyes of the patient and referring office. How can you improve their experience? Your practice rewards are directly tied to your level of customer service excellence. Wow your patients!

Kaizen — A Japanese word meaning constant and never- ending improvement. Small, incremental improvements over time make major, long lasting changes. Commit to continually improve professionally and personally.

Systems — The system is the secret! Everything your practice does should be systematized — from scheduling patients and phone calls to dental care and post-op instructions. The team should create, understand, and follow the system.

Team player — Your office should be a well-trained, energized, kick-butt team! Everyone is needed, appreciated, and supported. Office culture is critical to success. Your team is your tribe. You should have each other’s backs! Team means “together everyone achieves more.”

Action — Nothing happens until someone moves. Be engaged at the practice, and look for ways you can help. Remember, “That’s not in my job description” should never be an excuse for not acting when it’s required.

Resolve — Make a definite and serious decision to do or change something. Many people live their life half committed to everything they do. Go all in, be fully committed, or find something else you can fully commit to. Resolve to be the best you can be, and to make the practice the best it can be!

Serve — Be service oriented. Continually think, “How can you make someone’s life better today?” You are rewarded in life to the degree you sincerely serve others!

For team building, you need to be a good leader too! Read “Weathering the Storms of Leadership” by Drs. Joel C. Small and Edwin McDonald here:

Garth Hatch, DDS, is an endodontist who founded a multi-doctor private specialty practice with locations in Kennewick and Yakima Washington. He is passionate about building strong teams, loyal dual-benefiting referral relationships, and creating happy patient experiences. He received his DDS at Indiana University School of Dentistry, an AEGD-1 at Fort Jackson South Carolina and a Certificate in Endodontics from the U.S. Army Endodontics Residency Program, Fort Gordon. He loves his family, faith, fitness, fun, freedom and flying (travel). He can be reached at

Stay Relevant With Endodontic Practice US

Join our email list for CE courses and webinars, articles and more..

Scroll to Top