Every day we work with dentists who express frustration over a team that fails to meet their expectations. There is the sense that the same issue has been talked about over and over again, yet the delivery of results is never consistent, or always sub-par. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “We just need more accountability.”
I typically follow this statement up with a request to see the systems that would produce said expectations, and I hear something like “well we’ve talked about it plenty, and my assistant knows what she is supposed to do.” Yeah, sure she does.
Before you point the finger, turn the thumb.
If you truly want to promote accountability in your dental practice, start with yourself. If your team isn’t delivering the result that you want, ask yourself a few questions?
- Have I been clear about my expectations and goals?
- Do we have written agreements about these expectations and goals?
- Do we have systems in place to help team members meet these expectations?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, you can not begin to truly hold team members accountable for their actions, or inactions. No matter what you say, or how many times you say it, the lack of clearly defined expectations in the form of written systems and agreements will always create accountability gaps.
A cry for more accountability is not the answer here. Systems that clearly define the expectations of the practice are what is truly needed. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits that documented systems and agreements will offer your practice and your team.
Systems Provide Clarity
As a parent, I know that if I want my kids to get something done, I have to tell them exactly what that thing is. A demand to clean up their room is never enough, but the direction to pick up the dirty clothes from the floor, put the books back on the shelves, and place the toys in the toy bin will get the job done.
In your dental practice, it’s no different. You can not just assume that a team member will know the exact process for instrument sterilization in your office, or the way that new patient appointments are to be scheduled. In order for any process to be consistently and correctly completed, the process must be clearly defined from start to finish. A documented system gives your team a clear understanding of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and what the expected outcome is. If everyone on the team is clear on each step then there is less requirement for micromanagement, and the ability to have productive conversations around accountability when a team member struggles. Referring back to the system will help you both see where the struggle might be originating, resulting in timely correction and growth.
Systems Increase Productivity
While the production numbers of the practice will certainly increase as a byproduct of systems, this is not the only productivity that I am referring to. Systems streamline our daily activities, take the guesswork out of our actions, and free up time for team members and leaders to focus on what is most important. For example, with an excellent recall system in place, your hygiene schedule will be consistently full, allowing team members time to follow up on other key tasks rather than spending each day scrambling to fill tomorrow’s schedule. If the schedule does fall apart, and the system (or the individual) begins to falter, again, you have a foundation for a productive, meaningful conversation around accountability that is more likely to yield positive results.
Systems Help us Evaluate, Adapt, and Consistently Improve
If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that our environment and thus the dental practice will constantly be growing and changing. With good systems in place, change becomes significantly easier to manage. When people change, there are systems in place to easily train and integrate them. As technologies change, we are able to easily evaluate our workflows to fill gaps and increase levels of efficiency.
The way we operate was never meant to be set in stone; as the world around us changes, or as a business grows and matures, systems will adapt and evolve right along with that change.
If you are looking for a team that continuously rises to the challenge, a team delivers consistent results and embraces change as it comes, a team that embraces accountability conversations and grows from them, look no further than good, solid systems.