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Mid Year Check Up

It’s July and time for your mid-year practice check up. Sometime before the first of January, you set goals for the year. Now, it’s time to stop and take a look at how you’re doing.

1. Where are you winning?
A successful year is not only how much money you’ve made, but also a mix of victories and setbacks. How you and your staff have responded to both determines the real success of your practice. Schedule a staff meeting to talk about the victories and discuss how setbacks were addressed and if there is a need to “tweak” your office policies and procedures to avoid future problems. Standard operating procedures (SOP’s) need to change and adapt as your business changes.

2. How’s your business plan?
A business plan or a strategic plan is a living document. It needs care and attention on a regular schedule. If your only goal is to make more money this year than last, all you really need to do is raise prices a little. But if your plan includes such goals as increasing market share, increasing public awareness, reducing spoilage or incorporating a new software system, where are you in the process? Do those plans and goals need to be adjusted up or down?

3. How are YOU doing?
Are you pushing your staff too hard? Are you micromanaging tasks that are better left to others or ignoring issues that are draining your workforce and your business? 

Terry Starbucker, a service company executive who blogs on leadership, writes that “Every leader’s strengths, if overplayed, can turn out to be a negative…A good example of this is how a “good” tendency to be a “hard charger” can turn “bad” if you end up going overboard, getting too impatient and steamrolling over people.”

The best leaders know when it’s time to lead the charge and when it’s more appropriate to hang back and let their staff do the jobs they were hired to do.

4. How is your TEAM doing?
Do you have the right people in the right place doing the right job? Do they have the tools they need to do the job correctly? Are they being given opportunities to improve their skills through continuing education? Do you need to revisit current staffing levels and future training needs before the busy “back to school” months begin?

5. Are you on target to meet your goals?
While our economy is growing, it is doing so at a much more modest rate than anticipated. That means you need to revisit the goals you set for your business. If you are on track, that’s great! If you are not, then revising those goals to a more achievable level is appropriate. Few things can de-motivate a staff faster than constantly failing to meet your expectations or their own. If your focus has been purely financial, perhaps you should consider adding personal goals as well. Reward staff for continuing education courses completed or certifications earned as well as sales goals achieved. Publicly acknowledging patient praise is a sure fire way to keep you staff motivated during slow times.

6. Have you communicated your goals and did anybody listen?
If you were to have a casual conversation with your newest staff member, what would he/she tell you? Your vision for your practice should be posted everywhere…in your signage, on your letterhead and business cards. It should be the mantra that everyone can identify with, not just the words you want to hear. Is that vision a part of every conversation you have with yourself and with your staff?

According to Dr. Maxwell Pinto, business consultant and author of “Management: Tidbits for the New Millennium”, “True leaders place a great deal of emphasis on culture and shared values. They realize that business involves human beings and that profitable growth results from fruitful relationships. They lead by example, thus earning the respect and admiration of their peers and subordinates. As a result, employees are enthusiastic about going beyond the call of duty for their leaders.”

If you haven’t talked about your goals and your vision for the future of your practice since January, you’re late!

7. Who’s accountable for what?
Does everyone on your staff understand their job responsibilities and how they fit into the day to day operations of your practice? Are you praising and disciplining appropriately and in a timely manner? 

“Blame and ‘whodunit’ questions solve nothing. They create fear, destroy creativity, and build walls. Instead of brainstorming and working together to get things done, we blame-storm and accomplish nothing. There’s not a chance we’ll reach our full potential until we stop blaming each other and start practicing personal accountability.”
—John Miller, “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question”

Never forget that, in the final analysis, you are accountable for the success or failure of your practice. You set the tone and you put the people and processes in place to reach your practice goals. Terry Starbucker advocates the idea of “Full Spectrum Management”. On one side of the spectrum, he says, is “Touchy Feelyness” and at the other end is “Full Accountability”. Managing from the middle is the most comfortable position, because it preserves the illusion of calm. In reality, it fosters resentment and ultimately a loss of productivity when overachievers are not praised and underachievers are tolerated.
“In the end, using the full spectrum is about being fair—and being brave enough to get out of the comfortable middle.”

8. Are YOU listening?
Is a staff member talking and all you can hear is “wah-wha-wha”? Are you trying to multi-task when it’s just not the right time? If that staff member has summoned up enough courage to talk to you about an issue, have the courtesy to listen. If they begin to ramble on, repeat the salient points you think they’ve made and address them, immediately if possible or set a time when you can address them. Put that time on your calendar and keep the appointment.

9. Is it time for informal, mid-year reviews?
Every staff member, from your practice manager to the receptionist wants to know how they’re doing. If you don’t have the opportunity to have casual conversations throughout the year, try scheduling an informal mid-year review. Casual, non-threatening conversations may highlight some problems that, if left alone, will flare up and create much bigger issues. You may discover some hidden skills and abilities that will prove beneficial to the practice.

10. Take a vacation.
Even if it’s just a long weekend, everyone deserves a break once in a while. You need to create some breathing room not just for your own peace of mind, but for your staff as well. Sure, your staff is like a family, but even families need a break from the day to day routine. This is the time to relax and regroup. You and your staff members need to be ready to charge through the rest of the year.

“Mid-year is a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to being centered, calm and open minded as we tackle the rest of a hectic year.”Terry Starbucker

Judy Canty
ABO/NCLE 

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