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Accountability Matters

Accountability Matters

Accountability Matters

We all need accountability.  That is why coaching exists in virtually every industry and area. As a matter of fact, experts from the US Office of Personnel, state that accountability improves performance, increases feelings of competency, increases an employee’s commitment to work and ends in higher employee morale and satisfaction with their work.  So even though many positive benefits are a result of employee accountability, most leaders are uncomfortable with confrontation and avoid accountability in their office.  Sometimes accountability is avoided because managers are so busy working in the practice, that they have forgotten about the tasks assigned to employees.

Team members however, usually are aware of what was asked of them and their team members.  They know if team members are following protocol and when they are not. When lack of compliance is not addressed with those not following protocol, it sends a message to the rest of the team that the new protocol is not really important and it isn’t a big deal if it is not followed. 

Setting the Expectation

When establishing a new protocol, discuss with the team that this is new protocol and if not followed, the team member can expect to have a conversation with the leader(s) about it.  This clearly sets expectations and shows your commitment to holding team member accountable. 

Many leaders equate accountability with confrontation, however, it doesn’t have to be that way.  It can simply be a conversation where the leader states, “Hey Mary, at our team meeting we discussed asking patients for pre-payment on all services over $1,000.  I’ve noticed a few patients that you scheduled did not pre-pay.  Could you tell me more about it?” Be inquisitive but don’t jump to conclusions.

Shape the discussion to be about the process not being completed, and not about the person.  It is possible that the patient’s situations were unique and Mary did indeed respond with how she should have.  If that is the case, meeting with Mary was still time well spent because you were able to discuss it.  Mary will also understand that the new protocol is as important, as you said it was.  If Mary was not following protocol for whatever reason, this is a great time to discuss the situation and explore ways for her to respond in the future, to still achieve your goal of pre-payment.  When Mary is held accountable, the other team members will follow as well to raise the level of performance.

Expecting Accountability in Return

Transparent leadership is an important element of successful execution, and accountability is no exception. The leader sets the culture of the office and when they make it clear to the team that they are willing to be held accountable as well, it increases the level of trust and respect.  If the leader begins accountability conversations with an inquisitive (not blaming) tone with their team, then that is typically what they will receive.  Leaders should be prepared to listen with an open mind to team members with concerns about them not leading by example.

Lastly, remember to celebrate when the team reaches the practice goals.  People are more likely to be eager to start new protocols when they know accountability is coupled with recognition of success.  Shifting to constructive accountability within the practice will result in team members feeling empowered, as well as help the practice execute strategies that are important for overall growth.

Jennifer has spent over 20 years working in and with dental practices as a hygienist, trainer and consultant.  Jennifer has always been passionate about efficiency and productivity, and founded Virtual Dental Office and Dental Insurance Navigator to help practices save time on insurance training and tasks.  Jennifer recently created The Achievement Blueprint, an online program to assist dental practices with communication, accountability and implementation.

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