At this point you should know where you are. You have the ideal benchmarks to use as a goal, and you should now have all of your KPIs in the form of the Growth Analysis Spread Sheet, year to date Profit & Loss Statement Reimagined, and you have determined the good and bad of your demographics. You have finally arrived at knowing where you are. This, as your Google Maps would say, is your current “location”. Even technology needs your current location to take you on the fastest route to your desired destination.
One final lesson before we begin our journey. Every journey needs a map. This is the time to reflect and create a vision of what is to come. In business, that could be a “business plan”, goals, or just a “to-do” list. The one thing each of these have in common is that you are informally setting benchmarks or goals with an expected outcome. You are beginning with the end in mind. The tool that should come to mind for each of you would be a format to formalize these into a measurable and trackable document that could help not only you, but also involve your team. You remember your team, right? This is the group that you are sharing these thoughts with while gathering their opinions and giving them a peek at your vision for the future and having them read parts of The Super General Dental Practice (www.supergeneralpractice.com).
THE ART OF GOAL SETTING AND DEADLINES
Goal setting is a common strategy that is rarely used well. Memorializing your thoughts by writing them down will have a significant effect on the speed and comprehensive results you can expect. We all have heard of goals, most have set them, but few have engineered a goal to be used as a guiding hand with your team in actually creating a commitment and phantom pressure to follow through on what they say they will do. Each of us should try and create “SMART” Goals: S is for Specific, M is for Measurable, A is for Achievable, R is for Relevant, and T is for Time based.
S: Specific is one of those things we tend to gloss over. We use generalities and vague descriptions which will always lead to mediocre accomplishments. Specific means breaking down your vision into smaller steps so they are more understandable and achievable. Keep in mind by being specific that you may, for the first time, force yourself to delegate a specific task rather than this task becoming an afterthought or something you take on yourself.
M: Measurable: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Measurements, as well as posting these measurements where you and your team can see them daily, is key to success in goal setting. We need to know how our journey is progressing. Are we still on course? Are we making headway, going the right way, will we arrive where we thought we would?
A: Achievable is also important. While I truly believe that if you can conceive it, you can achieve it, part of getting the right people on the bus in the right seats is making sure you customize the speed at which you expect each team member to be able to knock down a goal. Everyone is different. Everyone learns differently. Everyone needs to see success. If you find that you have made it too easy, ratchet up the speed of accomplishment or deadline. If someone is not progressing, then help them, or restructure the goal. Bottom line is you must see movement in the right direction. If not, you should consider freeing up their future. We can no longer keep marginal employees. There is no learning without application. Without action and accomplishments, your goals are merely just daydreaming.
R: Relevant means you are doing worthy work. Instead of majoring on minor things, you are striving to set goals on the items that lead to the greatest return on investment: The biggest bang for the buck in the form of time and money. Think of this 180 Degree Dental Journey as your master plan, where you have decided to change the trajectory of your life and practice. You are setting new goals with a higher level of accountability regardless of where this journey has started. There are no short cuts or tricks that will get you there faster. Along the way there are going to be detours, stop signs, and yield signs. That is why we are being so specific in the way we are laying out this 180 Degree Journey. Each step leads to the next and a missed step could cause you to miss your destination by miles.
T: Time based: This is the magic of the “deadline”. Prior to the Civil War, the word never existed. Soldiers became captives from one side or the other, yet there were no military prisons that were close to the battlefields. Instead, the captors would take a rope or just draw a line in the dirt that was given the name “deadline”. The prisoners were guarded and this line in the dirt meant that any prisoner who crossed it would be shot. It was not until a decade later that we see it’s use change in the newspaper industry to mean getting things done by a certain time. Deadlines are great tools in leadership. Use them.
Each of these “SMART” requirements should be incorporated into any goal setting for yourself or your team. We have designed a template to help each of you make sure that you have the tools to help in getting everyone on the bus in the right seat. I want to take a few minutes and make sure you understand the headings on this template and how to use it. We have used this goal setting template for decades and have spent the time to improve it so that you don’t have to. This template will create a deadline as well as commitment and engagement in the process of setting and completing goals.
Please take the time to make copies of this template (LINK BELOW) and start a goal today. Heck, start a dozen goals. If you are thinking about waiting to do this, you will never make the finish line. Here is a great quote from Bob Goff: “No book is a chapter, no chapter tells the whole story, no mistake defines who we are. Hope makes your lives page turners.” The journey has started. Don’t procrastinate of just settle for what life brings. Be the author of your future.
I figured out decades ago not to be a settler; just accepting what comes. I promised myself that I would live life by design, not by default. These challenges you are facing right now are just opportunities for growth. What are your life’s beliefs? They will control your outcome. The formula for life is E + R = O: EVENT PLUS RESPONSE EQUALS OUTCOME.
If you think about it, we have 100% control of our response. Once you set your excuses aside you will find your results. It seems to me that a great number of people have not gotten what they want because they have not decided exactly what they want. You will always find what you are looking for.
Today’s Date and Target Date: These are your start and finish times. An automatic deadline for each goal or project.
Goal: Please be as descriptive as possible to create a word picture of the goal so that anyone would understand the task at hand.
WIIFM: “What’s In It For Me”. When it comes to yourself or a team member, a specific goal must have some value to the person who is in charge of making it happen. Take the time to describe the benefits and overall effect of accomplishing this goal. Be creative and help them commit and not just comply to being successful at its completion.
Obstacles and Solutions: I always have them fill in the obstacles and then I help them fill in the solutions. Always make sure the solutions far out distance any challenges to getting the job done.
Action Plan: A logical step by step plan for its completion as well as a finish date for each step. Another deadline for the smaller steps in a larger goal. Help them see that there is an orderly and logical plan that will make this as simple as checking the boxes as they move to completion.
Affirmations: The definition of affirmation is the at of confirming something to be true, or is a written or oral statement that confirms something is true. In this case I want them to write a sentence of how great accomplishing this goal will make them feel, improve their work, decrease their stress, etc.
As you travel this journey, remember there is no learning without application. Stay up with the pace and make the effort to change your life. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
LINK TO GOAL PLANNING FORM