Improving Execution: The Five Ways to Ruin a Team
Once you have a quality team assembled and a solid strategy in place, it’s time to focus on the third component of operating a successful dental practice: execution.
Without proper execution, even the best strategy and the most competent team is devoid of value. As business owners, we must relentlessly do what we say we are going to do—instead of just talking about it.
Execution is the practice of leveraging your team to accomplish the goals you have set in your strategy. As the leader of a dental practice, it’s your job to create a culture in which things get done.
The single-most powerful and valuable people in the business world are those who can take things from idea to execution the fastest. It is paramount that you learn to execute your ideas and empower your team, providing your people with the tools necessary to follow through on the strategy you have established.
There are five key behaviors that can destroy your team’s ability to execute successfully. You must learn how to overcome these behaviors so that you and your team can lead an effective, productive dental practice. Maintaining a healthy atmosphere at your practice enables you to develop cohesion and attain your short-term and long-term goals.
How to ruin a team
These are the five behaviors that can disrupt your practice’s team dynamics and create a toxic workplace for you and your employees:
- Lack of trust: You’ve got to have trust; in your practice, everyone must be willing to be vulnerable.
- Fear of Conflict: You’ve got to embrace conflict. The second that you are afraid to have a conflict on your team, you enter a phase of artificial harmony that’s toxic to your office culture.
- Lack of commitment: When no one is buying into your practice and committing to its mission, it creates ambiguity throughout the organization that is ultimately toxic to your productivity.
- Lack of accountability: Ducking the responsibility to call peers out when they are counterproductive leads to an ineffective team that cannot achieve its collective goals.
- Inattention to results: At the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses—and less about the steps necessary to achieve those wins and losses. What was accomplished (or not accomplished) is the only thing that really matters.
Key performance indicators
There are three questions that business owners can ask themselves to help determine their own ability to execute their strategy. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is a qualitative and quantitative method any business owner can use to monitor the health of a team and the ability to execute a strategy.
Below are three questions you can ask yourself to see how well you are executing your practice’s strategy:
Do you regularly set reasonable goals—and achieve them?
Do you have a cadence where people know exactly what’s expected of them, they achieve it and then you set higher goals? Be honest with yourself when answering this question. If you and your team are not moving toward mutual growth through the execution of pre-established goals, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy and your ability to execute it.
Are you reporting and tracking KPIs?
When you find yourself not reporting on KPIs, you are losing ground on both the execution aspect of things, along with accountability. The best team members love accountability—in fact, they crave it.
How are you supporting KPIs?
A quarterly priority report is something practice owners can use to support or improve their employees’ KPIs. Quarterly priority reports should be milestone goals that employees work toward over time and that are measured in terms of KPIs.
The only time you will ever experience conflict is when expectations and reality do not mesh. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for a dentist to over promise and under deliver. They may say a procedure will take an hour, while in reality it may take closer to two hours.
Instead, business owners should strive to under promise and over deliver. It’s important for dentists to learn how to set patient expectations and then exceed them as a matter of routine. Doing so will set your practice apart from others and allow you to differentiate between acceptable service and outstanding service.
Changing scheduling behavior is a significant way in which dentists can make promises and then over deliver to their patients. When patients go into a hygiene appointment that starts at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to finish at noon, they are happy when it wraps up at 11:50. But, if they leave that dental office at 12:15, they may be angry because the appointment has now messed up their day.
Dentists should always strive to exceed their patients’ expectations when it comes to both pricing and scheduling. If a patient needs extensive work, you may quote them with a $10,000 treatment plan, and then identify ways to reduce the patient’s expense by $500 to $1,000. This will make the patient feel like he or she is receiving a gift. Under delivering makes patients feel as if they are being jilted.
Dentists should also strive to exceed the expectations of their employees. Doing something as small and inexpensive as surprising your team with lunch can boost morale and improve the way your staff members perceive working at your practice. It’s amazing how far over delivering and over executing can take you.
Business owners must be able to identify their own points of weakness and surround themselves with team members capable of compensating those weaknesses.
As a dentist, you have to be very self-aware about your shortcomings. Personally, I am quite bad at following through. In fact, I could be one of the worst people at following through in the world. I know I must have people around me who are really good at follow through. I’m going to stay in my circle, which is talking, and then allow my team to take care of what they are good at, which is moving forward.
Learning to execute your strategy and maintain the health of your team will allow you to reap the rewards of building up these two essential components of your business. As you work to improve your practice, elevate patient outcomes and increase production, remember that even the best strategy and the most skilled team cannot succeed without an emphasis on execution.