By Roger P. Levin, DDS

The most successful business leaders understand that targets serve not merely as a way to measure performance but as a way to improve it. This quality makes them an indispensable tool for practice leaders looking for ways to generate better results from their team.

Even without much training in leadership or management, most orthodontists can use targets effectively if they follow these basic guidelines:

  1. Targets must be numerical. Vague generalizations fail as targets. Specific numbers give everyone a clear idea of what they need to accomplish and enable them to “keep score.”
  2. Targets must be measurable. If you have no way to capture the needed data, develop a system to do so.
  3. Targets must have deadlines. Saying you want to “increase production by 15%” may be numerical and measurable, but without a deadline, it’s meaningless—like saying you want to “increase production by 15% eventually.” It lacks motivational power.
  4. Targets must be written. Aside from the need to share and review targets with practice team members, committing targets to writing has a greater psychological impact. Written targets are more tangible, more real, and therefore more compelling.
  5. Targets must be assigned to team members. Make growing your practice a true team effort by giving individuals responsibility—and accountability—for meeting specific targets.
  6. Targets must be reviewed regularly to gauge actual performance. To motivate team members, review progress toward targets at staff meetings—daily, weekly, or monthly.
  7. Targets must be realistic. Impossible goals do more harm than good. Come up with reachable goals in discussions with the whole team and with those individuals who will be responsible for meeting them.

Start tracking 12 to 20 targets, providing training and system upgrades as needed, and you will soon begin seeing positive results.

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