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How To Maximise Workplace Learning Investment

28 Oct 2018

There was a time (not so long ago) when most dental teams worked hard, cared about their patients and selected their ongoing training on that basis. Today quality management obligations from within the dental sector and from patients have formalised post-qualification ongoing training requirements.

To be successful, businesses practices need to become learning practices and to understand the need for workplace learning designed to engage and motivate the team. Since some types of training inhibit learning and engagement it is important that learning opportunities are carefully selected. 

For qualified and registered dental professionals workplace learning embraces a wide range of learning opportunities. These should be generated or stimulated by the needs of the workplace. Targeted learning can be delivered through mixture of learning formats, for dental teams this includes:

  • Formal on-the-job training – new techniques and reflective practice
  • Informal learning – reading journals and networking
  • Work-related off-the-job education – workshops and conferences
  • Training to meet formal CPD requirements

So that all learning opportunities have recognised, practical patient care outcomes, a learning plan is needed to define:

  • Areas that need to be strengthened
  • CPD requirements
  • The gap between what people do and their expected performance levels

Having identified learning needs, the practice must think in terms of encouraging people to actively learn in every activity they pursue. This requires managers to develop the ability to ‘breath fresh life’ into traditional methods of learning needs identification such as:

Skills Audit

A skills audit can be used to determine the skills (knowledge, skills and attitudes) for each team member. This requires a carefully drafted questionnaire to determine the level and range of knowledge and experience. It is often a self-reporting mechanism, with input being given solely by the individual being skill audited.

Performance appraisals

At performance appraisal interviews, opportunities for improvement are identified and can be incorporated into a person’s personal development plan (PDP). These are discussed with the line manager after they and the interviewee have had an opportunity to contribute to the process.

On-the-job assessment

This is where employees are observed on the job and assessed against certain criteria – the knowledge and/or skills gaps are then incorporated into a training plan.

These are all useful tools which, when used together, can provide very valuable information.

There are many types of learning activities to fill performance gaps. Sometimes training and development is done on an individual basis and at other times, done as a team. This may be formal or informal.

Teams and individuals need to learn in ways that best suit their learning styles. Off-the-job training courses are appropriate if provided by qualified training and development specialists.

Learning can also take place on-the-job, such as in the examples below.

Coaches and Mentors

Peers or senior staff, with or without content expertise, can assist a person in unlocking their potential to increase performance.

Learning contracts

An agreement is reached about learning goals and how these are to be achieved. Sometimes this learning takes place during a training course but more often than not it takes place on the job, under the guidance of a skilled trainer, manager or consultant.

Computer-based learning courses

These include programs and courses which may be put on a computer, delivered via CD ROM or the Internet. They are normally supplemented with action-learning exercises and on-the-job activities.

Such learning activities can be costly in terms of money and time, so it is reasonable to want to see a good return on this investment and to ensure that the practice’s training efforts are correctly placed. There are a range of psychometric tests available to define the learning styles of individuals and then a learning specialist can match learning opportunities for dental teams to meet the expectations of their regulating bodies.

If you would access to a free Team Learning Guide Sheet to define the best learning opportunities for your team, please email glenys@glenys-bridges.co.uk

Quality Endorsed

Open College Network


Having been employed as a head dental nurse for many years, I'd reached a point in my career where it was 'make or break'. I was struggling to find a potential employer whom would take me seriously in wanting to progress into practice management and had numerous unsuccessful interviews. I found Glenys Bridges Dental Practice Management course online and thought I would give it a go. Little did I realise at the time of enrolling that this course would open up new doors for myself and give me the knowledge and confidence to succeed into practice management. As the course progressed, so did my confidence. I looked forward to my tutorials and the course is set out in a way which tackles each topic in an order which is easy to digest. I can honestly say that this course was the turning point in my career and I am now the proud practice manager of a lovely orthodontic practice. I love my new role and am utilising many things learnt in the course such as people management and business planning. I cannot thank Glenys Bridges enough for her support and feel very lucky to have had such a knowledgeable mentor.

Shelley Lord

I now have more confidence with distance learning after doing this introduction course. I am looking forward to working with Glenys in the future. Many thanks.

Michelle Hammond, Introduction Operational Dental Practice Management

I am doing a Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Dental Practice Management with Rebecca Morris. I'm really enjoying the course so far, I am currently working my way through my second unit of work, after achieving 100% on my unit 1. The support provided by Becki every week is just brilliant, she explains everything I need to know in order to complete my course work. The regular phone calls keeps motivation throughout the process. I'm also finding the course is already taking effect in day to day work, which is extremely useful! Overall brilliant course and amazing tutor!

Sarah Toye, Advanced Supervisory Dental Practice Management Skills S3

I have really enjoyed the course and it as helped me a lot in the day to day running of a happy practice

lynn major, Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses- S2 HEE

The course is well laid out and practical in terms of the skills required for Practice Management. This has given me valuable learning in order to go ahead and have the understanding about how to tackle situations that arise in management. Glenys is always supportive and offers sound and easy to understand advice and guidance. I would recommend this course to anyone hoping to pursue a position in Practice Management or to support anyone currently within the role.

Jo Wrigglesworth, Level 4 Dental Practice Management

very good course, had all the help and support that i needed plus more! Really feel like I have benefited from the course.

Georgia Fowle, Introduction to Dental Reception Skills

This course as a whole has been invaluable to me and I have my tutor Edita to thank for all of it – throughout the entire time Edita has been an enormous support, she is highly competent in what she does and has taken the time to thoroughly explain things when needed – I have felt at ease throughout the entire course knowing she is there for me any time I needed her and with her positive feedback she has made me feel completely confident in my abilities moving forward in my role – again a huge thank you to Glenys Bridges for the course but an added thank you to Edita for all your time, effort and support 😊

Jess Vivyan, Advanced Supervisory Dental Practice Management Skills S3

I found the course really helped me as I'm newly lead nurse. I found Becki really helped me with different approaches to leading my team. I even spoke to Becki about helping me with preparation to selling our practice. Becki is a great teacher and really cares for the people she helps.

ET, Introduction to Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses- Home.

This course was a great course to complete alongside my working week. I was able to complete studies at my own pace and receive support from tutors whenever needed. The high point of this course was learning how to performance manage and support my staff effectively to ensure they develop fully in their career. This also means that the business get the best out of their staff. I have benefited hugely from this course as it has given me the confidence to manage my practice effectively and provided me with the knowledge to apply to my work. The tutor support with Gleny's Bridges is second to none. I was able to receive support and advice whenever needed. I would definitely recommend them as a course provider.

Amy Littler , Level 4 Dental Practice Management

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Practice Pathways

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