When employees hear the word "accountability," it makes them nervous. They think it involves assigning blame or having to provide excuses. True accountability is giving people the tools to help them develop as professionals so that they can do their jobs. Unfortunately, most leaders don't understand how to instill a sense of accountability in their teams. But if you desire to have a great team -- one that runs like well-oiled machine -- accountability is key. And it begins with you.
Always give a deadline. Whenever you assign a task, you must give a deadline. Why? Because tasks without deadlines usually go to the bottom of pile of everything else that needs to get done. When assigning tasks, be sure to use language like "Mary, can you please contact Mrs. Smith about the information I promised her today? If you don't reach her, please leave a message and ask her to confirm that she received it." Communicating in this way ensures that both the task and expected deadline are clear.
Don't forget to measure tasks. If you merely ask someone to communicate better, that can be hard to measure. However, if you specifically ask your front desk person to ensure that hygienists and doctors know when a patient is waiting past their appointment time, that task can be checked. You can also quantify duties by completion dates. Teach your team that certain things need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. It will be very easy to measure what gets done at the end of these time periods.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm, and one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry. Dr. Levin has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. You can sign up for the Levin Group Tip of the Day.
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