If our ever-changing global situation has taught us anything about setting goals, it’s that nothing is carved in stone. “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” – the old poem turned proverb may have become the mantra of the masses. No matter how hard we plan, there are no guarantees. But plan we must, and whether you’ve been blindsided, or completely stalled, the best thing you can do before you set another goal is to activate the most effective approach!
Pacing is important too. You need a steady plan. Think about ascending a rocky mountain, versus an evenly built staircase. One calls for taking a couple of careful steps at a time, constantly stopping to re-assess the next steps. The other allows for balance and control, for placing one foot steadily after another.
Setting a goal is easy – anyone can do it, at any time. However right out of the gate, where you set it will chart the course. A goal set in your head will be achieved just 5% of the time. It will be achieved 20% of the time if you write it down, and it will jump to an 80% rate if you share it with others. Of course, you want to take it to the next level! A goal will be achieved 95% of the time if you attach accountability to it.
Above all, your goals need to be SMART. They need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Sensitive. To claim the goal, “I want to make more money”, is to simply state a thought without an action plan. A SMART goal would be, “My office production will increase 10% by mm/dd/year.
Using this 10% increase goal, let’s break down the steps you need to take to get it in motion.
Step 1 – Get the number. What constitutes a 10% increase? Knowing this number will directly affect all further steps. Figure out what increase you need on a monthly, even daily basis, to achieve 10% growth.
Step 2 – Are the systems and team throughout your office ready and set to support change? If this is coming up as a grey area, then have a practice management expert in to advise.
Step 3 – Determine if your team has all the right tools to achieve the goal and fill in with online education or in-house support where needed. This could be in the form of support from your software company, the development of a mastermind group with other dentists or any other professional support. No one is an expert in everything – it’s always better to accept those areas that are lacking and address them with the right resources and help.
Step 4 – Provide your management team with your goal, the numbers you are trying to achieve and the plan to get there. Listen to their feedback to ensure they have ‘buy-in’ going forward. The rest of your team needs a plan without going into great detail about numbers. As an example, you could tell them you’re looking for a 10% increase in treatment acceptance by having 80% of all major treatment accepted at the first appointment, a decrease in hygiene open time with two fewer openings a day or an increase in new patient flow with five extra new patients a month.
Step 5 – Develop a system of measurement to give to the team. Whether an electronic monitor, a whiteboard in the team room or a once-a-week announcement at the morning huddle, figure out what works best for the environment.
Step 6 – Celebrate all the small wins! It can be a verbal acknowledgement, pizza at lunch, or gift cards – let the team know you appreciate them and are paying attention to the progress.
It’s never too late to re-assess your goals and keep your best-laid plans from going “awry.” In the end, focus, a good plan, and plenty of support will provide the accountability needed for SMART goal success.