Principle #9 from the book, The Toyota Way, 14 Management Principles by Jeffrey Liker, discusses developing leaders within the organization who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy and willingly teach it to others. These management principles can be integrated into the daily processes of a dental practice.
The Toyota Corporation cultivates its leaders to thoroughly understand the culture of the company by living it every day. Leaders within the ranks of the Toyota Corporation must teach the Toyota way to subordinates. The goal is for the workers to understand the meaning of “consistency of purpose”. Consistency will ensure that no revolving door leaders are changing the culture of the organization at their whim. The working team will be encouraged to build on achievements, business culture, philosophy of leadership supporting learning and growing.
To keep its leaders working toward a precise, concise and universal set of ideals, the term True North was introduced into the Toyota Corporation more than twenty years ago. True North concept provides a compass that directs the organization’s culture and strategy. True North is a term to describe the ideal state of perfection that your business should be moving towards.
This is consistent and doesn’t change with the change of leadership. The goals are set by looking at the 3-5-year horizon of where the company needs to be in order to get closer to True North. Each year, progress towards those goals is assessed at every single level of the organization. Everyone is rowing in the same direction.
Relate this philosophy to the dental practice in the following ways:
- Create excellent systems that can withstand the loss of key team members. If the policies for delivering services to the patients are understood and practiced by the entire team, it will be easier to transition a new hire into the fabric of the practice environment.
- Create a standard in the hiring process to help prevent the loss of key personnel. People who are happy, positive, and with a great attitude are a better choice over people who are highly skilled but are cynical about their situation and negative towards their co-workers. An important book popular now is, Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy. The book is a great teaching tool and will help you to understand why attitude is so important. Most dental offices cannot hire someone from within the existing team to fill the position of an office manager; however, they can hire a person who shares the core values, principles and goals of the practice. Hiring for the right attitude is critical to maintaining the consistency of the team dynamics. New team members must be taught the dental practice systems to ensure continuity of the day to day routines.
- Create a culture of consistency. Working in a consistent, collective fashion is difficult when there are changes in key staff members frequently. Document your best practices into an Employee Manual. Provide written procedures that teach the policies. Explain and coach why consistency is important. Set clear expectations and accountability that is measured.
- Invest money in the right type of training. Implement what you have learned in the practice process. Integrate new technology or business protocols slowly before making it part of the business or clinical standard. Ensure all team members receive the necessary training on new equipment, materials, and business protocols. Many of us have experienced a situation with a very experienced, skilled but antisocial staff member who creates a culture of hostility towards new staff. This philosophy doesn’t allow anyone the chance to learn and to grow resulting in a turnover. Dentist’s don’t like to “train” new team members and expect all to hit the ground running. Without discussion of the practice mission, vision, goals and culture this scenario is set up for difficulty when the new hire does things “the way she/he used to.”
“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.” Og Mandino
When my trusted and highly skilled office manager had to leave my practice for family reasons, I was devastated and not in the right frame of mind to replace her. Subsequently, I went through six different office managers before I found someone acceptable. During this period, I watched the accounts receivables rise to triple-digit amounts. No one knew how she had managed the accounts or how to appeal to insurance claims.
It was during this frustrating time that eAssist Dental Solutions was born. Created to help my practices succeed and then for other dentists to share in my success. The business was designed so that the best insurance and account managers were within reach across the United States, I could hire the top billers from any state instead of the limited pool of applicants in my area of town. Now if I lost a key business team member, my cash flow was not interrupted. I now had team eAssist who were always there to keep insurance claims flowing and posting payments to my patient accounts accurately. The eAssist team all share the same core values, goals, mission, and vision. They have the consistency of purpose to bring “peace of mind” to the dental practices they serve.
Originally published in The Dentist’s Network
James Anderson, DMD was an entrepreneur before becoming a dentist. His leadership and business presentations offer dentists the essentials needed to achieve the practice and life of their dreams. His speaking programs help dentists realize their full practice potential by combining dental clinical skills with excellent business skills to create a profitable and enjoyable dental practice career.