Building and managing a successful dental practice takes a lot of heart and hard work. All day long important decisions are made on behalf of your patients, your team and your practice.
Does this decision support the practice? Is the team aligned in vision and mission? Does the team communicate our mission both in word and action consistently and collectively?
These are just some of the questions we often see dental professionals asking themselves and their practices. Without clearly defined Core Values, these questions and ultimately their decisions can create major roadblocks that can prevent your practice from thriving.
The concept of Core Values has been around for a long time because, quite frankly, they work. Nowadays, most businesses have them and most entrepreneurs are taking action from them. Your dental practice should be no exception.
When a dental practice takes the time to identify their Core Values, they create a powerful foundation for their practice that the team can return to when inevitable challenges and important decisions arise. Core Values additionally serve your practice operationally and help to ensure that team members are aligned in mission and are operating from the practice’s Core Values on a daily basis.
What Are Core Values?
Core Values are words or phrases that illustrate the things that matter to you and are important to your team and your dental practice. Core Values represent the beliefs and principles that define your practice, your team and the patient experience you aim for in your dental practice. They help guide you down the path that aligns with who you are, what you believe, how you want to affect those around you, the work you want to do in the world and the legacy you want to leave behind. They help steer you towards where you’re meant to be for the long haul and not where you think you should go in the moment. They keep you accountable and focused on the big picture. Core Values help bring your team together with a collective purpose and help your patients feel safe in your hands. They can serve as the stewardship for your practice and create a deep sense of empowerment and fulfillment for all.
Why Do Dental Practices Need Core Values?
Core Values are the ‘come from’ that your team operates and makes decisions from. They are also the foundation from which team members will provide care to patients. Without clearly defined Core Values, you and your practice are more susceptible to overwhelm, getting stuck in indecision, cultivating a scattered team that lacks a shared mission which creates a confused patient experience.
How Can I Identify My Dental Practice’s Core Values?
To identify your dental practice’s Core Values, you will want to grab a piece of paper, pen and an open mind. Then, follow the steps below!
Begin by brainstorming with these questions:
✓ What really matters to my practice?
✓ What are my practice’s non-negotiables?
✓ What really matters to my team?
✓ How do I want my team to treat one another?
✓ How do I want them to treat patients?
✓ What is the culture of our practice?
✓ What characteristics or qualities do I want my practice to embody?
As you reflect on these questions, write down on your paper the words and phrases that represent the values you uncover. Write as many words or phrases as you can and really let your brain leave ALL ideas on the paper. Nothing is too silly or wild! Don’t worry, you will narrow the list down later. Feel free to enroll team members to join you and add their ideas to this brainstorming party!
Some examples of what the responses to the above questions might be:
✓ It matters to my practice that we treat our patients with kindness and respect.
✓ That we provide the best care to our patients
✓ That we treat ALL team members with respect.
✓ We instill trust in our patients
✓ We provide a work environment that allows team members to have quality time with their families
From there, you can begin to identify key qualities and words that represent the values and beliefs of the practice like respect, trust, family.
Some of these words and phrases that you illuminate might ultimately become your practice’s Core Values. Exciting!
Once you have your completed (wild + silly) word and phrase list, review each word or phrase that you wrote down on the paper.
Think about each one, read it aloud and don’t forget to listen to your gut.
Ask yourself and perhaps your team: Does this value feel like a core value for the practice?
If so, then circle it. Keep going down your list, circling each word/phrase that feels like a potential top Core Value.
After you’ve read through each word/phrase and drawn your circles, go back and review each of the circled values.
Think about each one, read it aloud. Don’t forget to listen to your gut.
Ask yourself and perhaps your team: Is this value a non-negotiable for the practice?
If it does, put a star next to it.
Try to narrow it down until you have between 5-10 Core Values starred.
Share your top starred values with the team and see how they land.
Is there any missing that feels important to your team? If so add it to the list and continue to narrow it down to the top 5-10 Core Values.
It is important to have too many Core Values otherwise it doesn’t have the intentional grounded and foundational focus that makes them so powerful to your practice. Too many Core Values just makes things more confusing and overwhelming so be sure to keep it to no more than ten.
Once you have completed your final Core Values draft and have 5-10 Core Values starred on your list, put the list away for a few days. Give them some time to marinate!
After a few days, return to your top 5-10 Core Values list and examine if each one still feels strong and true. If they do, congratulations you have identified your practice’s Core Values.
If not, review the steps above until you have landed on your top 5-10 Core Values.
I Have My Dental Practice’s Core Values…Now What?
Once you have your top Core Values…WRITE THEM DOWN, frame them and put them up in the practice so that you, your team and your patients can see them easily and often.
Begin to incorporate your practice’s values EVERYWHERE; during team meetings, before making important decisions, throughout the hiring process, within team building activities, throughout the patient experience, etc.
Continually check in with yourself and your team:
✓ How can we embody these Core Values more as a team, practice and with patients?
✓ What ways can we measure how well we are implementing these values in our day-to-day operations?
✓ What incentives can we create as a team to keep us motivated and accountable to these values?
Sometimes as your practice evolves so too will your Core Values! Revisit and leave space to adjust your Core Values every year.
Core Values can be a powerful pillar of your dental practice if used intentionally and consistently. Once you start living and breathing them into your practice daily, you will see notice bold shifts within your practice pretty quickly!
Take the time to identify your practice’s Core Values today. It just might be the gamechanger you are needing to change the direction of your dental practice for the better!
We, at NextLevel, invite you to spend some time developing your own Core Values for your practice and then head on over to our Facebook page and let us know what you came up with!
Spend some time developing your own core values for your practice. When you’re done, share your core values with us on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/NextLevelPractice/