If you had a dozen athletes from different sports who got together to play one game, the first decision that would have to be made would be this: “What game are we going to play?”
Without that decision, everyone would play their favorite game at the same time. It would be chaos!
In the same way, what game is each member of your dental team playing? What does each one think the purpose of the dental practice is? If you asked each team member, the variety of answers might shock you. The answers would range from: Make money, make patients happy, serve people, help people with their dental needs, and to provide quality dentistry. All are worthy, but different perceived purposes can create some problems.
A typical job description includes a wide range of responsibilities. It would typically contain WHAT the team member is supposed to do. Say my job description is to answer the phone, and I perceive that as, “collect the money.” When the phone rings, I answer it by saying, “Thanks for calling ABC dental, this is Steve, how are you going to pay? Cash, credit card or check?”
Did I do my job? Yes! My job description says, “Answer the phone.” That is exactly what I did. But HOW I answer the phone is determined by what I perceive my purpose is. The job description says WHAT I am supposed to do. The purpose defines HOW I do it.
So what is the game you are playing, or what is the purpose of your practice? How clearly have you defined it in your own mind? Is it in writing? Have you shared it with your team? When was the last time you reviewed and discussed it?
Football coaching great Vince Lombardi is reported to have started the first practice of every football season with a lecture that began with this simple statement, “This is a football.” He would describe its dimensions, the materials from which it was made, and how to hold it. In other words, he kept the team focused on the basics of the game.
That is why my favorite practice purpose statements are simple, memorable, and actionable. For years, we have talked about using the following statement as a working purpose: To create a happy, paying patients, who repeat and refer and pay more than it costs to serve them. Let me repeat that: To create a happy, paying patients, who repeat and refer and pay more than it costs to serve them.
If you want an even shorter, more memorable version: To create happy, paying patients.
Here’s a starting point:
1. Define the purpose of your practice. If you have done it in the past, revisit your purpose and update it. Make sure it reflects what you think is important. If you are not clear, borrow our sample purpose: To create happy paying patients, who repeat and refer and pay more than it costs to serve them.
2. Share your purpose with the team. Discuss it. Talk about how it applies and plays out in day-to-day activity in the office.
3. Make it visible. Hang your purpose up in the break room where you can review and refer to it often with the whole team.
Remember, purpose drives not only how people do their job, but the tasks on which they choose to focus. Make purpose an essential part of your dental team training. If team members remember on a daily basis that their purpose is to Create happy paying patients who repeat and refer and pay more than it costs to serve them, then they are more likely to focus on, and engage in, activities that are in line with that purpose. They will also engage in their work in a different way.
For more secrets on job descriptions and purpose, read the FREE ToPS Institute ebook entitled 4 Characteristics of a Winning Team, by Steven J. Anderson, packed with ideas, techniques and systems for dental team training. Download the free e-book. Supercharge your morning meetings with FREE daily Action Thoughts!