If you want your team to demonstrate accountability, how do you promote this in your dental practice? And what do you do that might undermine your efforts?
For example, if an assistant forgets to follow up on a lab case, will she blame someone else or a circumstance, or will she immediately correct the mistake while also fine-tuning her system for tracking cases? The answer may depend on how you respond to the situation.
Accountability is typically undermined when dentists are consistently reactive when mistakes are made or when they avoid addressing the issues altogether.
If your assistant knows she will get yelled out, possibly in front of staff or patients, she is less likely to take accountability for the error. In some cases, instead of addressing a fixable mistake, team members will look the other way in order to avoid the wrath of a reactive dentist.
The other extreme is just as damaging. For example, if a hygienist consistently leaves stain and calculus which the dentist notices during the exam, but the dentist never addresses the oversights, the hygienist will not change her behavior. In addition, when other team members notice that a dentist consistently avoids addressing issues, they often fail to act take accountability for their actions.
Since accountability is critical for strong teams and practices, it is important to emphasize this characteristic in your staff. In fact, preventive dentistry is all about patients taking accountability for their dental health; everyone in your practice needs to be held to the same standard.
Create an environment where mistakes are used as learning opportunities, where team members are taught to be proactive in taking corrective action. And when behaviors do not improve, take appropriate disciplinary action. Do not avoid the issues. In the end, your patients and team will benefit from higher levels of accountability.
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