To Goal Or Not To Goal? That Is The Question

We have all been programed to think in terms of Goals.  Getting at least 7 hours of sleep is a goal, cleaning the garage this weekend is a goal, walking 2 miles on the treadmill every day is a goal.  Who among us hasn’t had a New Year’s   resolution to lose 10 lbs.?  All great goals! 

 Whether it be personal or business, if it has meaning, it should have a goal!   Or should it?

In our professional life, there is nothing more important to us than our practice. It not only gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our patients, but we also have production and collection goals as well.

During your monthly team meeting you announce that you have set a new production goal of $150K for next month.  There are a few smiles and whispers.  Some are enthused, (especially if they assume there is a bonus involved). Some have questions and some sigh heavily because they have been down this road and they know how stressful the next few weeks will be. 

Fast forward to next month. You’re working hard, putting in some long hours and missing a few lunches, but it’s going to be worth it because you are almost there!!!!  And then….  your hygienist sprains her wrist and is told to be off for a week, your compressor goes out and your cuspid-to-cuspid implant patient cancels 2 days ahead of time because they opted to go on a family trip instead.

Any one of these things, plus dozens more can happen.  THINGS HAPPEN, LIFE HAPPENS. And when they do, they have you frustrated, feeling like a failure or worse, resentful against people or situations that cannot be avoided.  Suddenly, people start dreading coming to work.   

On the other hand, let’s say you made it!  Everyone is happy.  Of course, you are, you only see the production amount. The overtime wages haven’t hit you yet.  When we hit goals that we have set, we are elated!  But then what?  Do it all over again? Raise the goal?  

How do you feel when you’ve met that production goal, but you miss it the following month?  You can go from elated   to deflated pretty quickly! 

I would challenge you to shift your focus away from goals and towards systems.  Having “systems” sounds like a lot of work, but you already have a system for pretty much everything!  Getting ready in the morning?  System.  Performing a   composite restoration?  System.  Making your favorite recipe?  System. 

Having systems in place is the most efficient way to consistently move forward while being able to adapt when the unexpected happens.  Let’s think of setting up a system, the same way as we treat our patients.

First, have a team Meeting and Focus on Triage and Diagnostics: 

What Is Working?
What is Not
What Is the Biggest Obstacle?
Team Input:  Do They Have What They Need?

Next, comes the Treatment Plan and Systems Outline:

Determine Desired Outcome
Set Priorities ~ Delegate & Measure Weekly
Set Rewards
Raise Patient Value & Quality (Variety) of Services

Have a written plan for execution, measurements, adjustments and phasing.

For example:

Concern: Low collections. Is your insurance aging too high?

Desired Outcome: No insurance outstanding over 45 days.

The system: Figure out how to get one person dedicated 2 hours every day to call on claims and address the delay.

Finally, execution: Pick a start date and execute your system.

Limitations are only boundaries we have placed around ourselves. Systems allow us to make frequent adjustments. Systems will ensure long term success so you can feel accomplished, confident, productive and have the practice you deserve!

Theresa Sheppard, RDA

Consultant, Author, Trainer

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