Updated: Apr 2, 2020
When looking at a dental practice, what is the first thing that is noticeable across the board? Each practice has a team. Even though dental practices come in all shapes and sizes, not one is the same as the other because of the individuals that make up the practice. You can say that the practice runs like a human body, with each team member and the Dentist playing crucial roles in keeping the practice alive. But at the forefront of that team is the Dentist. In many cases, the Dentist is the individual that many team members look to for leadership.
As the Dentist, to some, it may seem daunting that the team looks to you to be the leader of the practice. But this gives you an opportunity to foster a relationship with the individuals of your team and watch them grow. Now, you may be thinking, “How do I do that? Where do I start? I just want to do the dentistry and have my team follow along in place.” Before all these thoughts flood in, ask yourself what type of leader do you want to be? What goals do you have for yourself? For your team and the practice? By answering these questions, it creates direction for you along with the practice.
The Dentist possesses the knowledge of the practices’ vision and believes in the philosophy and brand promise of the practice. It is important that your team embodies the same philosophies and brand vision so that the practice is streamlined and succeeds. To stand out as a leader, you must have accountability with your team members and with yourself. Accountability can be achieved by utilizing goals, specifically S.M.A.R.T. goals. These goals can vary from practice-specific to individual-specific. So, what are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measureable, Action-Oriented, Reasonable/Realistic, and Timely.
Specific is self-explanatory. When setting a goal, your goal should be specific to what you want accomplished. Define exactly what it is that you want to achieve.
Measureable uses an objective standard to describe the desired result. Having a measurable goal goes hand-in-hand with accountability. If you have a method of measuring, you can track progress and see if any progress is being made. If no progress is being made, then steps can be taken to adjust the approach of achieving the goal.
Action-Oriented focuses on what the person can do to get the desired result. When a goal is set, steps can be made to see how the goal can be achieved. For example, if the practice wants to bring in 50 new patients in 6 months, the team can sit down together and create steps as to how this can be achieved step-by-step.
Reasonable/Realistic: The goal must be reasonable/realistic to the practice and team. If an unrealistic goal is set, then there is a risk that the team may start getting unmotivated. It doesn’t mean that the goal should be something very easy for the team but it should match reasonable expectations of the practice culture.
Timely: The goals that you set for yourself must be time-specific. Setting a deadline to the goal will help you stay on track to achieve the goal in a reasonable amount of time. Using the previous example, if the practice has set a goal to bring in 50 new patients in 6 months, a plan can be created to dictate steps that the team members can take to achieve this goal in 6 months. It also helps the team stay accountable to reach this goal in the allotted time.
Creating goals for the practice and the whole team will position the Dentist as a leader, especially if the Dentist is directly involved in the goals. This gives the Dentist a chance to demonstrate accountability with himself or herself and with the team. In turn, demonstrating leadership.