We’re dentists. Many of us are also perfectionists. It’s not our fault. We’re trained to be perfect with our clinical care in dental school. But many of us expect perfection in all parts of our practice. That makes us do too much work ourselves, fearing we need to do things to ensure they get done right. That’s why implementing systems and processes is so important. It’s the best way to make consistent performance easy.
To put systems and processes in place that get followed, we need to set the right expectations throughout our practice. We need to set expectations of our team members. And we need to set the right expectations that our team members can have for us. That way, everyone on the team can trust that they have the best tools and support to serve our patients well. And when we set the right expectations, everyone on your team will be motivated to perform, have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, and have the tools to do their best work. Here’s how to set the right expectations in your practice.
Anticipate Setbacks and Failures
As powerful as it can be to set clear expectations and put systems and processes in place to support every team member, growing a dental practice is anything but linear. You are going to have setbacks no matter how well you plan or clear your expectations are. Getting into the right mindset is critical to pushing through those setbacks and failures and continue on your growth plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of people abandoning an amazing growth plan because they believe a setback or failure along the way means it was not the right plan.
When things don’t go as anticipated, be resilient—for yourself and your team. Team members will mess up. Systems and processes will be improved. And unexpected setbacks will happen that will be out of your control.
Be there for your team during those times because that time is when they need you the most. Don’t make your team members feel bad when they mess up. If someone is consistently not meeting expectations, address it with them or let them go. But nobody will be perfect so we can’t expect perfection.
Set Data-Driven Expectations in Real Time
You can make your expectations more attainable and more realistic if you set them up in real time with data to support them. For example, it might be too ambitious to say you want to have a 15% increase in case acceptance within the next month, especially without guidance from experts in case acceptance, like Dr. Paul Homoly, our Delivering WOW Platinum Case Acceptance Coach.
But you could set a realistic expectation to increase case acceptance within a week. At the end of the week, measure what your increase was and set expectations for further increases based on your actual data. If you see a 2% increase in case acceptance after that week, you can set a more realistic expectation. Maybe an 8% increase in case acceptance within the next month. Or, maybe you see an opportunity for improvement and invest in getting expert help for an even larger gain. The expert can share their experience and guidance for improvement and help set expectations based on data from their experience with other practices.
Either way, data-based expectations in real time help ensure you set appropriate targets and position everyone on your team to succeed.
Avoid Projecting Expectations about Your Performance onto Your Team Members
Many dentists have the expectation that their staff should be performing at the same intensity that they are. While your staff may be connected to your vision, they won’t always be as emotionally connected as you are. You can’t expect them to care as much about the goals you have for your practice as you do.
We can reduce this by tying your practice vision into their personal goals and dreams. But it can take some time to get complete buy-in. And, even then, not every person can have the same intensity and emotional connection to your practice as you. If you expect everyone to be as intense and invested as you are, you will get frustrated a lot.
You can also make sure to connect with your team members on a personal level. If you care about them and helping them achieve their personal goals, they’ll start to feel the same way about you and your practice vision. They’ll be much more invested in helping you achieve your practice vision because of their personal relationship with you and the connection between their personal goals and your practice vision.
Are You Setting the Right Expectations?
If you’re not setting the right expectations in your practice—for you and your team—your practice will never achieve its full potential. By expecting setbacks, setting real-time data-driven expectations, and avoiding projecting expectations about you onto your team members, however, you can build an amazing team and achieve incredible things together.
If you want more help setting expectations in your practice, join the Delivering WOW Platinum Coaching Program where you and your team can get expert guidance from our resident Mindset Coach, Dr. Shakila Angadi.
You can also join thousands of other dentists helping each other in my Free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook Group!