Team Motivation and Accountability

By September 1, 2014Uncategorized

As coaches, office managers often ask us, “How do I motivate my employees and hold them accountable to their duties?”  Motivation and accountability are important leadership skills that are not taught in school, yet they are talents you can cultivate.  When team members are motivated and excited about their work, it’s easier to hold them accountable, and the whole mindset of the team is transformed.

Let’s examine motivating and inspiring employees first.  While we might think motivation is intuitive, there are some concepts that, when used, can create immeasurable results!

First off, let’s get one thing clear:  work IS about the money.  People work to support their families and lifestyle; money provides the avenue to do so.  While it may be true for some team members that taking care of patients fulfills them and inspires them, they also love achieving financial goals.  As Dan Pink outlines in his book Drive, pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

Once you have set up salaries and benefits that are competitive, here are four recommendations that should help create motivated employees who will be inspired to do great work:

  1. Allow people to control their work:  When team members have the ability to set goals, impact decisions and decide on tasks performed, they will be more interested in their work.
  2. Communicate important information:  When team members receive timely information, participate in team meetings and understand progress made on goals, they will be more motivated.
  3. Provide opportunities to grow: Training, coaching life skills, increased communication skills and team participation will help team members grow as people.
  4. Ask team members what motivates them:  A simple question of “What would motivate you to achieve these goals?” can elicit some surprising information.  Pay attention; everyone has different ideas of how they want to be motivated and knowing that information can be priceless.

Always give each employee personal time and attention, and acknowledge publicly a job well done, no matter how small.  And remember, the attitude of the office manager and doctor in the morning huddle can set the tone for the day – manage your state for maximum team performance.

Want to de-motivate your team?  Simple:  keep negative and non-performing people on the team.  When you let non-performers go, the rest of the team respects you more and is motivated to perform.  Keeping those folks on the team is demoralizing and brings about negativity.

Once you have created a motivated team, take a look at team accountability. I am consistently finding office managers who are frustrated with team members not stepping up or committing to projects that remain incomplete.  This creates undue stress and distraction for the leadership of the practice – both office manager and doctor – who must be focused on running a successful business and performing great dentistry!

We recommend each practice implements the system of “Sourcing and Accountability.”  No matter what kind of dental practice you manage, there are three main Departments:  Administrative, Clinical, and Hygiene.  These are the departments that must have department heads or “Source” people.  In addition, each dental office has three “Accelerators”:  Hygiene Reactivation, Patient Reactivation and Marketing.

The Source for each Department and Accelerator do not have to do all the work in this area. Rather, they are the ones who are accountable for getting the work completed.  Perhaps they delegate some of the work to another person and then follow up.  The idea is that the office manager or doctor has one person to check in with regarding that department.

Implementing Source people within your team can help alleviate stress, create greater accountability, and foster a feeling of ownership among the staff.  Individuals want to know that they are making a difference and are valuable members of a team.  Additionally, as an office manager, you will grow stronger as a leader by encouraging team members to achieve their very best.

Here are the steps to Team Accountability:

  1. Set the goal or outcome with the Source person
  2. Create a plan in writing with a “By When” or completion date
  3. The Source person declares what they will do and makes requests to others
  4. Monitor the results by asking, “Are we achieving our outcome?”
  5. The Office Manager coaches the team member to the result by asking “What is working?” and acknowledges them; then ask “What is not working and how can I support you?”


The office manager must continue to hold the team member accountable to their commitments by having weekly (or sometimes daily) check-ins.  As the office manager, you must let go of performing all of the day-to-day activities.  Your job is to serve the team members and make sure they understand the outcome and what is expected.  This type of “Servant Leadership” is one of the best ways to become a stronger leader.  While this may be a paradigm shift in thinking, we have found that it is very successful!

For a complementary copy of the Sourcing and Accountability system, please email me at and I will send it to you.

Consistently checking in with your team members is key for motivation and accountability, which leads to success in all areas of the practice.  I have found strong communication skills can increase the level of teamwork, motivate leaders on your team and make an office manager go from good to great!

By Kim McGuire, CPCC & Executive Coach for Fortune Management