Focus On: Team Morale and the Right Team Members

Robert M. Pick, DDS, MS


Robert M. Pick, DDS, MS, discusses how having the right team members and amazing team morale is so important to achieving “Purple-Cow-Wow!”

Q: When you lecture, you state that the team is always part of the “4 staples of a thriving practice,” correct?

A: Yes. I always state that there are 4 important basics that must occur for a practice to be outstanding: (1) do excellent dentistry, (2) have effective business systems, (3) have excellent relationship and communication skills, and (4) be a great team and have a great team environment. Without a great team, and without that great environment, it is impossible to do the first 3 at the level that you need to as well as to succeed in today’s dental business world, period!

Q: When hiring for different team positions, are there different parameters that you look for?

A: That is a big yes, and it is extremely important! I use the DiSC Personality Profile System ( Different positions in the office require different personalities in order to get the job done and to further develop what I call a “Purple-Cow-Wow” dental team (based on advice from Seth Godin’s popular business book, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable).

DiSC is a powerful assessment system that lets you know how people will respond to various scenarios. The D stands for driver and is a “my-way-or-the-highway” person. He or she is direct and to the point. The i stands for interactive or expressive and is somebody who uses his or her hands, is not afraid to talk, and is not shy. S stands for steady relater or amiable, and these individuals are somewhat quieter than the other types, are great listeners, and have softer personalities. C stands for calculating or analytical. These individuals are fact-based, serious, and want all of the facts and data.

Q: How does DiSC actually work for those different positions?

A: You want whoever is first on phones and meeting the patient to absolutely be an expressive personality, a high i. You want that person to be engaging on the phone. You also want that person to stand up and greet patients as they come through the door into your dental business. Your office manager absolutely needs driver (D) traits in order to lead and get the job done and also potentially could have analytical (C) tendencies, which will help in accounting, bookkeeping, bill paying, etc. If you have an insurance coordinator, an analytical personality will help. With the assisting team, it is nice to have both i and S traits: somebody who likes to talk and engage but also is soft and warm. For the hygiene team, an expressive personality, again, is always nice to engage the patient and, at the same time, warmth through the S type. Q: Is there anything else you look for in team members when they are hired? A:Yes, and that is the hospitality quotient (HQ) factor. I want employees who have 51% HQ and 49% technical skill. In a nutshell, HQ is someone who has an internal curiosity about the patient, wants to make that particular dental visit the most amazing experience that patient has ever had and wants the patient to feel that it was customized just for him or her, hence, “Purple-Cow-Wow!”

Q: How important is leadership?

A: Leadership is extremely important in the entire process of team morale and for having the right team members. Strong leaders demand excellence and inspire their team. As a strong leader you must share your office’s mission, vision, and culture often. A wonderful quote from Simon Sinek that I love is: “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

Q: Tell us about team incentives and their importance.

A: Team incentives go a long way in team motivation. As a fun surprise, tell your team that next Wednesday, you are buying lunch for everyone. It can be an organized trip to a meeting relative to your practice (such as the ADA or a specialty meeting) or a trip to a local cafe. When your practice is over the goal for that month, financial incentives can be given. There are many financial incentives and you have to use the one that works best for you. Another fun team incentive is a shopping spree. Tell your team you are taking them to lunch on a particular day, give each person $200 cash (or whatever amount you choose), and go to the local outlet mall for a shopping spree. Set a time limit, so everybody meets at a particular time and talks about what they bought over lunch. At business-team-building retreats (which should be done biannually), if a team member has really done something amazing, you should recognize him or her with some form of an award. This can be a plaque or a trophy. You can also recognize anniversary years. When it is done as a surprise, that particular team member is blown away! The team excitement from these incentives/rewards have no words, and the motivation is unreal! “Purple-Cow-Wow!”

Q: Several times, you’ve mentioned “Purple-Cow-Wow!” Can you briefly explain what that means?

A: You want to be remarkable in an amazing way to stand out from the competition and with a big wow factor in all you do. To do this, you must have an amazing team, the right personality profiles for the right positions with the HQ factor. When you have that “Purple-Cow-Wow” factor, that amazing team of yours seems to magically achieve goals faster than you ever thought possible and subliminally gets you 5-star Google reviews, attracts other high-end team members who want to work for you, and brings new patients through the door! With all of this, patients notice that your team and you are having fun. Take pictures, as they make for amazing social media posts!

Dr. Pick received his dental degree, certificate of residency in periodontics, and master’s degree all from Northwestern University. He maintains a full-time private practice and is an associate professor of surgery, Division of Dentistry, at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending clinician at Northwestern Hospital. He also is the CEO of The Pick Group (, a practice management firm designed to make your practice unstoppable. He can be reached at (773) 402-8933 or via email at

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