Dental Practice Management: Accountability Leads to Results

If you regularly read my blog entries and articles, you know how important systems are for the success of your dental practice. As we’ve discussed, systems are what allow your practice to run smoothly—and these systems are what allow you as the dentist to spend your time most effectively. Systems ensure that the day-to-day tasks such as scheduling, billing, and serving patients happen properly.

Today, we’re going to address an important component to creating effective systems: accountability. You see, it doesn’t matter how effective the systems you design are if your staff members don’t execute properly. Management consultants often point to fast food restaurant McDonald’s as the ultimate example of the power of systemization. And for good reason—the franchise has achieved remarkable consistency. You could walk into any McDonald’s in America and order a meal that looks and tastes exactly like the food at your hometown location.

But… what happens if the cook doesn’t stick to the manual and cooks the fries for too long? Or uses the wrong toppings on a burger?

All of a sudden, the incredible system that has been built doesn’t matter. All is lost, simply because one team member failed to execute. This scenario doesn’t happen often at McDonald’s, because they emphasize quality control and accountability. Mistakes are quickly identified and corrected.

Now… can you say the same about your practice? Do you have rigorous quality control parameters in place? If your employees aren’t executing properly, will their mistakes be identified? And once they are identified, will corrective action be taken to ensure that the problem is resolved?

Most dentists and practice managers, if they are being honest, will admit that their employees aren’t held to high enough standards. It is accountability that produces results—because without it, most (but not all) employees will do the bare minimum. They’ll look for opportunities to cut corners. They won’t execute your systems the way you’ve designed them, and the result will be an inconsistent experience for your patients.

What can you do to create a culture of accountability? Below are several ideas:

Lead by example. If you don’t meet your own standards, don’t expect your team to. If they see you cutting corners and taking shortcuts, they are absolutely going to do the same. I guarantee it!

Don’t tolerate tardiness. If a staff member is supposed to be at work at 9:00 AM, hold him or to it. 9:01 isn’t acceptable. This may sound unnecessarily strict, but the goal is to create a culture of accountability, and you can’t “pick and choose” when you enforce the rules and when you don’t.

Perform thorough reviews frequently. Most dentists DO have clear expectations for their team. They just don’t hold them to it. Take the time regularly to review a team member’s work. Review it in depth and point out any areas that need work. If you expect every ‘I’ to be dotted and every ‘t’ to be crossed, hold your employees to it!

Without accountability, you won’t get the results you want. And no matter how well-designed your systems may be, if your employees don’t execute them properly, your patient experience is going to be inconsistent at best. Hold your team accountable!

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