By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
Oct. 16, 2019
The management approach you take can have an impact on how productive your employees are.
Here are decisions you can make as practice leader that will increases the chances of having a staff capable of doing great things for your patients and practice.
What is Strategic Management?
“Strategic management is the management of an organization’s resources to achieve its goals and objectives.”i Let’s define words to make this clearer. “A goal is a broad primary outcome. A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal. An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy. A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.”ii
It is important for everyone in the practice to know where the practice is headed and how each job within the practice helps it to get there. When employees do not understand the strategy behind the product of their job, it is possible to focus on the wrong things or to use the wrong tactics.
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Many years ago we had an employee who was in charge of recall. We set goals for each staff member in the practice. She was determined to hit her goal and did not understand the overall strategy of the part of our mission statement that said we wanted to create patients who were “happy, educated and loyal.” Her job, as she interpreted it, was to hit or exceed the recall goal number no matter what.
We began hearing stories from established patients that our recall person was pushing people too hard to return to the practice for care. As a result, some patients left the practice while others returned, but were unhappy. The staff member hit her number goal, but she missed the overall strategy of creating happy and loyal patients. That was our fault. We didn’t help her to understand the overall strategy, and so she ended up using tactics that were in direct opposition to our overall practice strategy.
The lesson learned here is clear – make sure every staff member understands how what they are producing for the practice helps achieve the overall strategy of the practice.
The owners of the practice need to set practice goals and objectives in the following four areas: operational goals, community service goals, profit goals and growth goals. Here is a question to answer about each one.
We have never seen a perfect practice, so that means we all have room for improvement. What operational improvements do you want to see in your practice and why?
Community service goals center around giving back to the community where your practice lives. What community service goals do you want to see in your practice and why?
A practice that is not profitable will not be in business very long.
A practice that is profitable has money that can be used to improve the practice buying hiring more staff, upgrading equipment, adding more hours or adding more space. What profit goals do you want to see in your practice and why?
A practice that is not growing is dying. A practice that is flat and not increasing or decreasing is actually dying as well. What growth do you want to see in your practice and why?
Now that you have defined the overall goals and objectives of the practice, sit down with each staff member and explain how the product of their job helps the practice achieve its goals and objectives. Be sure to focus on the strategies you want to employ to achieve the goals and objectives.
We want our practice to grow, but within the context of creating happy and loyal patients. We wish we knew then what we know now. Don’t make the same mistake we made. Employ strategic management to make sure every staff member is using the correct tactics to achieve the practice goals and objectives.