Academy of Dental Management Consultants Corner: 4 steps to increasing momentum for the year-end and new year of your dental practice

It’s that time again ... the end of the year. There are only a few weeks left to finish all of the items on your 2014 to-do list; to achieve the goals that you set and to run as fast as you can to get them all done so they don’t hang over your head as incomplete in the New Year. We send letters to our patients informing them of the year-end, telling them they have benefits remaining to get any unfinished treatments done, but have you had a team meeting to look at your practice’s need to complete things before the end of the year?

How your dental practice ends the year is how the New Year will begin. Start by looking at where you are now, where you wanted to be by this point, what you need to do to get there, and what things need to change to improve in the first quarter of the New Year.

1. Schedule a team meeting that is longer than your regular team meeting, at least three hours.

2. Have your goals written on a large display board or display them on a monitor that the entire team can see. Compare your goals to your actual outcomes. Present the numbers factually and hold back from discussing the causes, effects, excuses, justifications, or celebrations of what the numbers indicate.

3. Start by having your team members identify at least 20 items that were successful in this past year: what worked, why they were effective, what changed to create this?

Are there things on the successful list that, if you focused even more on them, could dynamically change your final weeks of scheduling, producing, collecting, or serving patients at a higher level?

Make a plan on how to do these steps: who will do them, how will they be done, when will they be done, and how will you know if they are working. How will you be able to measure the effort?

Are these steps ones that you will want to continue into the New Year? And are they a part of advancing your systems so they will continue to be more efficient and effective? Make sure to write these down as they will become a permanent part of your standards and expectations.

4. Have your team create a second list by identifying at least 20 items about the challenges in this past year: what didn’t work, what held you back from achieving the goals, serving your patients, etc. Share with the team that, by analyzing systems that are working or not working, you can discover opportunities for improvement, growth, or decreasing stress and chaos in the practice.

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Decide on three to five things that you want to work on before the end of the year as a team. Look for ideas to carry over into the New Year that can affect the systems and change the momentum successfully. Follow steps “B” and “C” from step three above.

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Strategic review for strategic planning can be effective and successful when team involvement occurs. When you engage your team by working through a brainstorming exercise, you validate that they play an important part in the success of the practice too. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Teamwork collaboration in the planning process creates teamwork commitment in the implementation process. Developing your own year-end list of incomplete treatment and planning which treatment needs to be done first, second, and third will create positive momentum of change for your patients, your team, and your practice.

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