Prioritizing People in Your Practice with Core Values and Communication
People are the most important part of any business—and having the right team can change your life in dentistry.
The people in your practice are your greatest asset when it comes to the growth of your practice, the marketing of your practice and your future profitability and success. Having the right chairside assistant, dental hygienist, administrator or front desk receptionist can completely transform the way you provide care to patients.
When you have a team of great people all working together toward shared goals and values, your productivity will increase, you will experience a better workplace culture and your patients will take note of the quality of your team.
Building a great team
We know that people are important in a dental practice, but what do we do with that information? As a dentist who wants to develop a successful and sustainable practice, you need to think critically about the team you are building and how you can bring the right people into your office.
Finding the right team members starts with establishing your core values as a dental practice. People do not buy what you do—they buy how you do it. Core values drive business, and the core values you have will shape the trajectory of your practice. The secret to finding good people is that you don’t find them, they find you. When you project good core values, you attract the kinds of people you want.
If you find the right people, get them on board with what you are doing and make sure they are aligned with your core values, you will set up them and your practice for greater success in the future.
You must assess your team members in terms of the value they add to your practice. There are two reasons why we hire people: core values and results. Your employees may be great people, do a lot of work and have some great characteristics, but you need to ensure they stay focused on core values. To evaluate these factors, you have to know what kinds of results you are actually seeking. Establish specific goals and anticipated results, and evaluate your team members against them. Doing so will help you assess your team members more objectively to ensure they are adding real value to your practice.
If you believe in people and you know how much of an effect the right team members can make to your practice, you must develop a communication rhythm. If you are married, you need to have a date night once in a while, or you might end up divorced. If you have children and you want them to grow up to be good adults, you need to be serious about regular communication.
Along those same lines, if you have a team, you need to create some communication rhythms. These communication rhythms include some kind of daily check-in, a weekly tactical meeting, monthly strategic meetings and a quarterly meeting. The following is a brief description of each:
- Daily check-in: This meeting is an opportunity for everyone to communicate each day. The daily check-in is about patient care, where you get together to discuss the people the practice is serving as a team. This meeting tends to cover more emotional aspects of the practice, including core values and specific patient care topics.
- Weekly tactical: The weekly tactical about is about practice care. During meeting, you will discuss data, priorities and goals to help assess the current state of the business and outline priorities for the future. The meeting sets some concrete goals that team members can conceptualize and work toward.
- Monthly strategic: The monthly strategic meeting is a kind of check-up, where you can discuss how the practice is doing and whether you need to change directions for the future.
- Quarterly meeting: Quarterly meetings are typically done offsite and are often administered by a professional meeting coordinator who can facilitate a process of developing goals for the next quarter. This meeting gives the team the opportunity to celebrate goals and accomplishments from the previous quarter and establish priorities for the next quarter.
When you are having these meetings, show your team members that you are a great communicator. Let them see that you are heavily invested in them. Demonstrate the kinds of things you are doing to help improve the practice, and highlight areas that are getting better.
You cannot expect your team members to thrive or add value to your practice if you are not invested in them. You need to show your team members that you care about your patients and your practice, and encourage them to align with you on core values and goals. As you develop as a leader and become more established in your practice’s core values, your team members will become increasingly invested in these values, as well.
Many dentists are resistant to communication rhythms because they are concerned about losing time for production. Although it might seem counterintuitive to carve out time from production for meetings, the reality is that these meetings are an investment in your practice that can really pay off in the long term.
Think of it this way: you cannot fix an airplane while it’s in the air. You have to land the plane, assess the damage and get the issues resolved before it can fly again. In the same way, you cannot effectively improve your practice and address key issues if you are constantly in production mode and you don’t take any time to convene with your team. Making the investment of time into communication rhythms can more than make up for any production you missed during team meetings.
It’s not always easy to navigate team building and communication rhythms on your own, and you should be willing to ask for help when you need it. The right coach can help you develop a team that’s aligned with your core values and improve your abilities as a leader to keep your practice moving in the right direction.