Teamwork is an indispensable factor in any professional setting where people work together, including dental laboratories. An efficient and highly motivated team is usually the key to a successful business. In many cases, only a few tweaks are all that‘s needed to motivate and inspire laboratory staff. Jürgen Seger who is a dental technician and the Head of Department Global Education Technical at the International Center for Dental Education (ICDE) of Ivoclar provides some helpful suggestions for laboratory owners.

Mr Seger, what kind of advice would you give your colleagues on how to motivate their teams?

Jürgen Seger: It‘s very important for a laboratory to use the latest technology, equipment and materials. The fact that they are working with state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technology will provide team members with much inspiration. I can confirm this from my own experience.

Is the proper equipment the only aspect that needs to be considered?

Jürgen Seger: No, of course not. The work procedures followed by a laboratory are just as important as the equipment it uses. Streamlining the processes within the laboratory will definitely improve the atmosphere among the team members. It will enable them to accomplish their work more efficiently and above all more reliably. This brings us to the subject of process reliability, which is a highly motivating factor.

Why is this the case?

Jürgen Seger: When you know that everything is well-organized and you can count on successful results then you will accomplish your work with pleasure. You can rest assured that you will not have to redo your work and this will save you a lot of time and frustration. But in order to ensure process reliability, you need to use reliable, technique tolerant materials. You cannot do without them. They are requisite.

Thank you for this advice. What else can you say about dental materials?

Jürgen Seger: The materials you choose to use should be as versatile as possible, but also highly esthetic. When dental technicians have the privilege of working with highly esthetic materials, they will be more inspired to reach new creative heights. In the end they will be proud of having achieved something great. Their well-honed skills and great-quality materials will fully complement each other.

What other factors can have a motivating effect in the dental laboratory?

Jürgen Seger: Dental technicians like to see the outcome of their work in the mouth of the patient. They want to see for themselves how their restorations look and fit and find out if everything is in order. They would like to know how the patient feels about the result. Very often, however, there is a lack of feedback, even though many possibilities are available: for example, a direct report from the dentist, photos of the try-in or even an invitation to attend this appointment. Being able to see the patient heightens the technicians‘ proximity to the process. If they cannot meet the patient personally, then modern means of communication can help to establish a connection. The work of the technician becomes more personalized, which is important since the restorative process can be very emotional for some people. In any case, it is extremely rewarding for dental technicians to be actively involved in the process.

And how about professional development? How important is it as a motivational tool in dental labs?

Jürgen Seger: Of course it‘s very important! Dental technicians are keen to master new techniques and processes. They appreciate being given the possibility to further develop their skills and exchange views and experiences with colleagues. These opportunities are not only a reward, but an absolute must. In many areas, dental technicians would not be able to continue working without learning about new technologies. Let’s take the example of CAD/CAM: You‘d be lost without thorough training. If you want to be successful in this field, you have to be 100 percent knowledgeable.

Conclusion: Motivating your staff isn’t rocket science!

It takes only a few small details to motivate your dental laboratory staff. The most important ones have been presented in the interview above:

  • Modern technology/equipment

  • Highly esthetic, high-quality materials

  • User-friendly processes and process reliability

  • Personal proximity to the process

  • Professional development opportunities

Do you have any further suggestions for motivating your laboratory staff and improving their work as a team? Please share your thoughts with us. We look forward to hearing from you.