How to embrace change and continuous improvement

By Dr. James Anderson, DrBicuspid contributing writer

November 4, 2020 -- We have had time to think about preparing for a changing world and ways to survive and eventually thrive amidst adjustment and turmoil during the pandemic shutdowns. We've taken up teledentistry and new protocols to screen patients before they arrive at the office. Most of us have furloughed or laid off valuable team members, all with trepidation.

As the months roll by, we adjust to a new schedule and a new norm within the practice regarding how patients are treated safely. We are acutely aware that there is no returning to the way it was, at least not for an exceptionally long time.

Dr. James Anderson
Dr. James Anderson.

How do we drop the nostalgia and embrace the changes with positivity? Observing the world and the aftershocks of the pandemic tell us that COVID-19 is not the only concern. Lost hope, lost jobs, businesses closed for good, schools closed -- all challenge us to remain resilient. None of these issues can be taken lightly.

Despite the negativity, it is critical we "snap out of it" and do what is necessary now to embrace change and view every working day as a commitment to continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is an ongoing advance to upgrade life, personal and business relationships, and community welfare and safety. It isn't about an immediate, complete overhaul but rather can be the smallest of improvements. Over time, these small changes can improve our way of living.

Start with small manageable bites

If you are looking at goals like they are a vast forest, you won't change a single tree. Broad goals are not great motivators and can shut people down. Instead, when setting goals within your team, break the most crucial goal into smaller goals that can be more easily achieved yet which set the stage to resolve the significant goal over time. Keeping the team motivated by reaching attainable milestones will pull them together to see improvements in themselves.

For example, say your goal is to connect with your entire established patient base. Each team member will choose a patient of the day to give special attention to his or her needs. The team member will read the patient's chart and ask questions related to dental or health concerns. Have some new information about how the practice is focused on quality care and safety, for instance. If the long-term goal is to reach every active patient of record (say 2,500) each day, the team will see improvement as the numbers drop. These smaller improvements will help you reach your overall target.

Always ask for positive feedback

Be proactive and search within to learn how you can improve and then ask for feedback from others. Be open to a fair exchange of ideas. A business coach or personal mentor can also be of great help to you and the team when times require us to change and evolve. Feedback can help you take the next step in improvement. Create an environment where giving feedback is safe and welcomed.

Support your team

If your goal is to improve together, make sure you are interacting as a viable team. Social distancing and isolation for safety's sake have hurt our need to belong to a purpose outside ourselves. It is vital to schedule weekly or biweekly Zoom video meetings to discuss each team member's emotions and needs during any locked down time.

These are challenging times for all. However, if we embrace the changes and work within new parameters, we can thrive and grow.

Dr. James Anderson is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, UT, and is the CEO and founder of eAssist Dental Solutions. He can be reached via email.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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