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Developing a Practice Strategy

An important part of any practice strategy, in addition to setting your mission statement and goals, is establishing a concrete plan on how you’re going to achieve them. 

And most importantly, a plan on how to manage the inevitable distractions you will encounter.

Black and white chess pawns

You also need to have a clear priority on what is most important. 

You are going to constantly need to re-check that you are working on the most important thing—that first domino. 

It is not a question of if; when things don’t get done, you and your team member need a clear path on what to do next.

To make it easy for you and your team, you need to create a guiding document that combines purpose, mission, and vision with specific tasks that need to be accomplished to get you to your goal. We’ll call this document a Practice Priority Plan (PPP).

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Consistently Focus on One Goal

Although you and your team will have a lot of different priorities, there can only be one primary goal for your team to focus on. 

It’s important that you accomplish the smaller goals that are needed to get to your bigger goals: your mission and your purpose. At any time, your team’s focus needs to be on one goal.

How to Create an Effective Quarterly Goal

It’s important to find that one most important goal that will get you one step closer to your ultimate goal or mission.

Once you know your one-year goal, you’ll also want to make sure the quarterly goals you come up with are actually stepping stones to your larger goal.

Sean Covey, the author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution,  calls it a WIG—Wildly Important Goal: “From X to Y by when.” For example, your quarterly goal may be “increase monthly injectable patients from 10 to 20 by December 31.”

Don’t make it any more complicated than that. Bring the goal up to the team and discuss it with them.

It is critical that you get them to participate in determining the how

The momentum of moving forward and obtaining goals helps keep people happy and motivated.

Step 1 - Measuring Your Goal

Once you have your quarterly goal, let’s identify what success is going to look like. 

Just like your financial statements have numbers, which are factual, every function and role in your practice also needs to be measurable. 

With a clear measurement, or result, you know if you achieved it or not—there is no maybe.

I like to use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to determine if the person did their job or not, or accomplished a goal or not. I also want to introduce what I call the Key KPI.

We need to assign a number to your top priority so that you know if it has been accomplished or not. 

For example, your Key KPI may be to achieve Black Diamond status with Allergan. 

When you buy a certain number of injectable products from them, you will be awarded Black Diamond status. 

If this was your goal, you would need to determine how much product you need to purchase from Allergan in order to obtain that status.

For example: If you need to purchase four hundred, 100-unit vials of Botox®, that’s 40,000 units. 

If the average patient takes 50 units, then you would need to see 200 patients. If you are open 240 days a year that’s just over one patient a day (1.2 to be exact). 

If you have two team members who can inject, then you should be able to obtain Black Diamond status in just over six months.

Step 2 - Creating the Plan

Now that you know what winning looks like, let’s start breaking the goal down into the tasks that need to be done and get it in writing. 

Once you have listed all of the tasks using the “from X to Y by when” format, now is the time to assign who is going to do what tasks.

By starting with a short, easily attainable first goal, you will be able to see how your team works. 

You will see who the natural leader(s) are, who meets their deadlines, takes the commitment seriously, who you can depend on and who you cannot. 

Your goal is to grow your team members individually, so when starting out, assign tasks to meet their strengths. Remember, you always want to build your team up so they can grow.

A very important next step is to create the map and give everyone a copy so they are all heading in the same direction, on the same path. 

You may give five people the same map with directions, but what seems perfectly clear to you can be interpreted differently by others reading the exact same map. 

This map should be reviewed at every team meeting, in weekly emails, and reviewed at you team members’ one-to-one meetings

This is perhaps your biggest challenge as a healthcare provider. You may have seen what’s called patient compliance, or more commonly, lack of compliance, in your practice. 

You would think if you prescribed a patient hypertension medication, they would take it to improve their overall health, and most do, but what about those who do not? 

The reasons vary, from “I don’t have prescription medications coverage,” “I don’t like the side effects,” to “I’m going to try a natural, homeopathic remedy first.” 

You were pretty clear on your diagnosis and the solution, but the patients were using a different map. 

The same is true for your team members—say it, say it again, and keep saying it! Otherwise, you will not get the results you were expecting.

“Great leaders see themselves as Chief Reminding Officers as much as anything else.” – Patrick Lencioni.1

Step 3 - Get the Plan on Paper

It’s critical to always be reminding. Another way to keep the practice’s purpose and mission top of mind are to have it as part of all communication. 

I have it as part of the team one-to-one coaching form, team meeting agenda’s, and as part of the strategic one-page plan. 

I also think it’s important for it to be visually pleasing and succinct.

Whatever form you use, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • You need to always tie in the big picture with your practice’s goals.
  • The project goals need to be very clear and be connected to the practice’s
  • Team member expectations need to be clearly articulated (what do they need to do).
  • Due dates need to be clearly identified on the form.

Step 4 - Monitoring and Feedback Loop

By setting up a system to help you track the progress of yourself and your team towards your goals, you can be confident that no one will wander too far off track.

Make sure you have regular check-ins with your team on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis to review what they’re doing and any obstacles they’re encountering.

This also provides an avenue for team members to provide feedback or share any obstacles they’re facing, allowing for timely troubleshooting.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask during your check-ins:

  • What progress have we made as a team towards our goal since our last check-in? What about each team member with their individual goals and contributions?
  • Has anyone encountered any challenges or obstacles? How were they addressed or do they still need assistance in overcoming them?
  • Are there any resources or tools your team needs to better achieve their tasks?
  • What have been some significant wins and learnings in this period?
  • Are there any areas of concern or potential risks that you should be aware of moving forward?

Step 5 - Celebrating Small Wins

While the end goal is paramount, celebrating the small achievements along the way can serve as a motivational boost for the team. 

Recognizing and rewarding efforts can create a positive work environment and foster a culture of appreciation and encouragement.

Here are three ideas the practice can commemorate these moments:

  1. Recognition in Team Meetings: Allocate a segment of your regular team meetings to highlight the efforts and successes of team members. It can be as simple as a shoutout or presenting a “Star Performer of the Month” award.
  2. Office Celebrations: Organize a small office party or a team lunch when significant milestones are achieved. It provides an opportunity for relaxation and bonding.
  3. Personalized Rewards: Based on the preferences of team members, offer personalized rewards like a day off, vouchers for a favorite restaurant or bookstore, or even a small bonus.

Note: Not all staff enjoy being celebrated the same way. Make sure you’re choosing an avenue for the staff member that meets how they like to be recognized. For example, one staff member may abhor being highlighted in front of the group at a team meeting but really appreciate a personal card from you when you notice a job well done, while another gets more validation from a mention in front of the group. Optics can also come in to play, so it’s important to keep a balanced approach so all of your team members feel valued.

Step 6 - Adjusting the Strategy

No matter how well-thought-out a strategy is, there’s always the possibility that things might not go as planned. It’s essential to remain flexible as you go. 

Revisiting and tweaking the Practice Priority Plan (PPP) ensures that it remains relevant and effective.

Areas that might need tweaking include:

  • Resource Allocation: If you find that some tasks are lagging because of a lack of resources, consider redistributing resources or hiring additional help.
  • Time Management: If certain milestones aren’t being met within the stipulated timeframes, reconsider the deadlines or streamline processes.
  • Training Needs: As tasks progress, you might identify areas where your team needs additional training or expertise.

Developing a Practice Strategy is written by Jeff Russell, Author of Secrets to a Successful Practice & Executive Director of the IAPAM

[1]  Lencioni, Patrick, The Advantage, page 143

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