The phrase, what gets measured get done, is attributed to Peter Drucker decades ago, but is as valid today as when he coined the phrase. You might want to consider this as one of the top ten leadership habits in creating the practice you always wanted to have. This, being the start of a new challenging year, should create some phantom pressure to incorporate this phrase into your systems and culture. Every position in a dental practice should have a measurable (metrics) benchmark that quantifies the job description you have for that individual. For example, a Hygienist would have a complete job description, and we would measure their production on a weekly basis, the number of scaling and root planings on a weekly basis, and the number of crowns they presented to patients on a weekly basis. These three areas are put on a single graph with the X-axis being months and weeks and the Y-axis being numbers from 1 to 30 or so. What gets measured gets done. In fact, every staff position and every system can be measured. The data we measure needs to improve the system, so we must be very intentional about our goal and the end result we hope to improve. These graphs are set up by the owner but filled in by hand by the staff member responsible for that job, and should be posted so that every member of the team can see them. Keeping these graphs by hand adds accountability and engagement in the process and ensures that the data they keep will be used to improve the system. When you begin the journey of measuring your staff and systems please keep in mind these three important facts: Goals and metrics need to reinforce the business results you seek. First come vision, then a plan, and finally the measurements that create accountability for the individual.
We as owners or leaders of our practices must “link” the action with a benefit for the staff member and the practice. They must see the intention, and the “why” of doing something as well as a benefit for them. Leadership must follow. Simply measuring will NEVER ensure an action gets done. Too many of us just point our staff or demand a change or action without providing the challenge, feedback, and inevitable consequences. Your job as the leader involves more than just saying something. You are also responsible for what team members hear and that each understands how what you have asked will impact them.
To give you a picture of what this looks like, I have included a photo of one wall of our staff area. On it you will see the graphs for each position as well as a very large year-at-a-glance calendar. The calendar is initially filled in with all of the paid Holidays the office will take or when the office will be closed. To go a step further you might add the vacation time staff will not be there as well as continuing education that is planned for the year. I even place marketing reminders for post cards, billboards, newsletters, and special events like Santa Claus at our office or health fairs. Generally speaking, it forced me to be intentional about the entire year. Not that I couldn’t change something because everything except the Holidays was done in dry erase marker while the Holidays were in permanent marker. The ripple effect of the year-at-a-glance style calendar was that it kept my staff “future focused”. They weren’t just thinking a week out or to the next payday. Every day, several times a day, they would consciously or unconsciously see and be reminded of the schedule.
In addition to the calendar, there were graphs for new patients and total office production. Again, a reminder and score card for how we were doing.
As far as the design for the actual graph, there was a horizontal sloping line made in red for each graph for a “goal” or “target” for whatever that graph represented. Generally, it has a slight up and to the right increasing slope to indicate about a 10% increase for the year compared to last year. Each staff member also had a graph. The actual measurement would track an important aspect or two of that team member’s job. In fact, if you don’t have currently updated job descriptions for every position, now is the time to knock them out. Sit down and take what you have, give it to the staff member and have them update it to the point that it would be a training tool for anyone who holds that position. Secondly, make sure that you also review and add to the completeness of the task by adding your desires to the list of the job description. Once it is done, go back and prioritize the value or worth of each description so that you can list the most important job duty for that position first to last. Now go back and figure out how to graph their progress on those first couple of “most important” parts of the job description. For an assistant, it might be the dollar amount of what dentistry she assisted on during each week and have them manually post it on their graph. For front desk you might track the number of cancellations and no-shows, calls converted to appointments, accounts receivable, reactivation, and recall percentages. Whatever you deem important on the individual job descriptions should be tracked. What gets measured gets done.
Commit to measuring every position’s key duties and you will see your production go up along with profits while your systems begin to auto-correct as each member on your team re-engages in becoming a partner in your practice. A staff ownership mentality or attitude, along with great job descriptions, protocols, and timely tracking guarantees growth and a better culture in your office.
There are two types of employees. One is an employee that just needs to receive more training; the other is an employee you need to free up their future. We can ill afford to keep marginal staff and expect a great team. It is time to take advantage of measuring performance to increase what gets done. Get to the point where you consistently produce at least $20,000/employee/month. That’s how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS