Creating a Culture with Dental Team Accountability

Dental team accountability is a topic I frequently address with dentists. In a business like dentistry where the boss must spend 95% of his or her working time in the mouth of another person in order to be successful, accountability becomes even more elusive. A dentist is not available to look over employees’ shoulders and monitor their performance, answer their every question, or ensure what needs to be done is done and done properly.

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.” – Henry Cloud

How can one instill accountability in a dental practice? The quote above by Henry Cloud highlights the concepts of the answer. The keywords are culture, expectations, communication, and peer accountability.

A Healthy Dental Practice Culture

There are healthy and unhealthy workplace cultures. A healthy dental practice culture is an environment whose management, operational systems, strategies, mission and employees are all aligned to the creation of an amazing patient experience and business sustainability.
It is a workplace that does not focus on nor is distracted by office politics, emotions, mistakes, disagreements, gossip, Facebook, cell phones, or the like. It is a workplace where constructive criticism is welcome, team support is expected, setting and achieving goals are rewarded, learning is encouraged, and change is embraced.

Setting Clear Expectations

According to research, the number one thing your employees want from you as their leader and boss are CLEAR expectations. Clear means, written. Clear means, discussed. Clear means, repeated. Clear means, it is measured. Clear means, it is enforced. Clear means everyone on the team knows it and monitors it. Clear means, the leader talks it…and walks it…and expects it.
How are these expectations presented? Through the following systems:

  • Comprehensive Dental Employee Handbook
  • Detailed Employee Job Descriptions
  • Annual Employee Performance Reviews
  • Patient Oriented Operational Systems
  • A meaningful common mission
  • Strong “Team Commitments”
  • Monthly Monitors, benchmarks, and goals

Dental Team Communication

Team communication is the glue that fortifies all the above expectations and creates a safe, honest, healthy and productive work culture. If you don’t often meet as a team to interact, review, troubleshoot, learn, report or debate, all your efforts toward a healthy work environment, clear expectations, and peer accountability will fall apart. Effective TEAM communication makes them all stick!
There are specific foundational systems critical for effective team communication and creating peer accountability:

  • Morning Huddles EVERY workday
  • MONTHLY Monitor Meetings
  • ANNUAL Practice Retreats
  • ANNUAL Employee Performance Reviews
  • MONTHLY team learning sessions
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Birthday celebrations

Peer accountability is the goal and results of these efforts. It works, and it works well. I know that for a fact. And, yes, it takes systems, focus, and effort, but it is well worth it on many levels. Ready to develop peer accountability in your practice? Call today and let’s talk about making it happen.

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephan Covey

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