Why bother setting policies if they don’t stick?

Every dental software has three different ways of completing any one task, this should not be the case when it comes to the policies in your office, the policy should be clear and concise. Policies allow you to set guidelines on how you want any particular task completed in your practice. Without policies set in place, your team will have no direction and they will likely complete tasks however they see fit, whether it aligns with your vision of the office or not.

When you want to set a policy, you will need to analyze your practice to determine if the policy is truly going to benefit the practice in a significant manner. When informing your team of a new policy you will want to ensure that it is shared verbally, electronically and in hard copy as well. This may seem like overkill, but every team member learns and retains information in a different manner, you need to provide them with the tools to be successful. When introducing a new policy be sure that you explain the reason that the policy was developed and the timing for when compliance is expected.

There is nothing more confusing for your team than a policy that is introduced and then not enforced. Compliance to a new policy by some team members in your office and not all is a recipe for disaster. For the practice there are consequences for not enforcing compliance, these can include: 

  • You could risk losing face with your team and their trust moving forward
  • You will not benefit from the change you can see your office needs
  • Team members will feel that they have a choice in which policies they can choose to follow
  • You will have wasted your time and your teams time introducing the policy 
  • There is a great likelihood that your next policy won’t be followed either

You may ask, how do you enforce policies without becoming a micromanager? You need to have a culture of trust running through your office and have your team help you set a progression of how to integrate a new policy. Depending on the size of your office, it may start off with a checklist that needs to be completed, then move down to a weekly check in and then a monthly check in. Building new habits takes time and repetition if the policy is in regard to a daily occurrence in your office. If the new policy is built around something like a vacation policy, then you would expect immediate compliance without oversight.

The Owner and the Office Manager must know each policy and believe in the reasons that these policies have been put in place. Your team will learn quickly enough which policies you know and which you don’t know and then they may push the limits on the policies that aren’t being enforced. You will want to act immediately when a policy isn’t being followed, the longer you wait the harder it is to make a correction. Your team should know the consequences for not following a policy and you should be prepared to follow through on the process.

Being thoughtful in developing any policies, keeping a record of office policies and enforcing office policies are all run hand in hand. Keep the chain strong and you will be well on your way to your team having their dream jobs and you having your dream practice.

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