3 Ways To Set Clear Expectations for Dental Team Excellence

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Setting Clear Expectations for Excellence

Something that we hear at Jameson time and time again from dentists, practice owners, and practice leaders across the country is this: absolute frustration and near burnout from trying to motivate their dental teams to take initiative and deliver exceptional care. Lack of team motivation, inconsistent system execution, poor verbal skills, and unreliable work performance are all issues that surface regularly. Unchecked, these problems inevitably cause stress, reduce productivity, increase team conflict, and more.

When I meet with a doctor who is frustrated with their team’s performance or attitude, my first question is always this: Have you clearly communicated your expectations for their performance and role on your team? Basically, do they know what you are expecting of them? Almost always, the answer is no.

Herein lies the root of many issues that bubble up in dental practices—assumption. You may assume that your team members know what to do and how to do it to your standards of excellence. But if you have never actually outlined what those standards are, how would they know?

The good news is this: It’s never too late to clearly communicate your expectations to your team members about performance, patient care, and the execution level you desire in your practice. Now is the time to communicate your ideal vision for your practice and clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

Here are 3 things we recommend to help you set clear expectations for elevated and consistent team performance:

1. Define “what right looks like.”

Think about your practice for a moment. When it comes to patient care, team performance, and overall practice goals, what does “right” look like? Until you clarify that for yourself, you cannot set healthy expectations with your team. So first, set the vision. Next, communicate that vision. Then you’ll be ready to execute the vision—together.

2. Get your dental team’s buy-in. 

Clearly communicate what right looks like to your team in a meeting. Leave room for questions, make space for feedback and one-on-one conversations, and ask them if they are on board with that vision. Then prepare yourself to repeat your vision over and over again until the light bulb goes off and your team realizes you mean business! 

Consistency and persistence is key, especially if your vision involves changing the way you do things. If anyone on your team is not on board with your ideal practice vision, we want to know as soon as possible so that you aren’t trying to drag someone along who doesn’t want to go where you are going.

As Dr. Mark Hyman always says, “If you are trying to lead and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk!”

3. Set goals, action plans, and evaluation times. 

One of the biggest cracks in the foundation of execution, consistency, and accountability is not intentionally creating an environment that fosters momentum in the first place. Through strategic goal setting and action planning, you can systematically break down the steps and strategies needed to help team members get their performances from where they are now to where they need to be. 

This is the same blueprint you’ll follow to implement any new system, tool, verbal skill, or habit into your practice. Start by setting the goal, then break that down into strategies. Next, assign responsibilities and timeframes for each action step, and don’t forget to schedule evaluations to check progress. Regular team and individual meetings are the keys to success!

Remember to lead by example.

As a leader, you must remember that in order to properly set expectations and ensure your team meets them, you need to:

  • Set the standard of excellence
  • Expect the standard of excellence
  • Reflect the standard of excellence

Whether you realize it or not, your team looks to you as a reference point on what is expected of them. So make sure that what you want to see from your team matches what they see from you.

Above all else, be the example of what right looks like for your practice every single day. You’ll be amazed as you watch your practice culture rise to the standard of excellence that you desire. 

Still feeling stuck or having trouble implementing the suggestions above? Schedule a free discovery call to explore how we can help you unite your team so you can work together efficiently toward your ideal practice vision.

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