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Get Back on Track With Goals, Plans, and Procedures for 2021

With the crazy from the last 18 months now mostly behind us, and as we come up for air, we notice we’re half-way through 2021. Before long, December holiday decorations will be out in the stores, and we will have totally skipped Halloween! I love annual milestones, and if it’s half-way through the year, I know exciting things are right around the corner. For me, that also includes becoming a grandmother for the first time this Fall!

Part of recovery is getting back on track with goals, plans, and procedures to make 2021 the most productive and effective possible. We’re hearing that some practices are simply hanging on the best they can, due to lack of personnel, changes in patient flow, etc. Others have recovered or didn’t suffer during the last 18 months and are making their way forward. Here are some things to think about, regardless of your situation, as we ponder the first half of this year and gear up to finish strong.

First, Review (or Set) Goals

Maybe with all the craziness, this is the year you failed to set annual goals for the practice, or for you personally. It’s not too late. The half-way point is a wonderful milestone in which we can reassess our current position. One important step in reviewing goals is to assess whether your day-to-day work tasks and your stated goals are in alignment. If you feel you’ve been working too much “in” the business vs. “on” the business, this is a wonderful time to regroup, reassess, and pivot, if necessary. If the larger, overarching 2021 goals feel like big bites, chunk them down into manageable pieces that can be measured regularly. Consider these mini objectives to keep you on the path to your larger goals.

We know the SMART acronym
that should be applied to goalsetting:

S

Specific

M

Measurable

A

Attainable

R

Relevant

T

Trackable

Next, Measure and Report on Progress

We are all familiar with the adage, “what gets measured, gets managed,” and never has it been truer than with milestones, goals, and objectives. We know the SMART acronym that should be applied to goalsetting.

Goals without these elements are just wishes. Active goal setting and achievement align with active participation and tracking. Take time in your team meetings to report on goals and progress and ask for help if needed. In our company, we set 1-year goals and break them down into Quarterly rocks that are necessary to get us to those goals, and every member of the team shares in a part of that. Then we report on our progress in weekly meetings and ask for help if needed. Sometimes “to-dos” come out of that meeting that break them down into even smaller steps. These small actions contribute to the larger actions that yield success.

Next, Follow an Action Plan

Does the team regularly miss deadlines? Is it because they were too ambitious or unrealistic? Maybe it’s because there was a flood of new patients and our focus was elsewhere, which is absolutely OK. But constant review and attention to the small details that lead to bigger results are critical to the process.

For example, if a Front Desk CA’s goal for the year is to reduce the missed appointment (MA) percentage (often a statistic assigned to the FDCA) how is that chunked down into manageable steps?

  1. Know where you’re headed:  Get MA% reduced from 30% to 10% by 12/31
  2. Plan how to get there: Begin multiple appointment scheduling (MAS) by 5/1; Train Sally on MA calls by 7/1; See 25% reduction in MA by 9/1; etc.
  3. Report on and measure often:  Include a review in your team meetings or other accountability

Last, Measure Results

As you complete periodic, or year-end milestones, see how you did. Hopefully, great things happened, and goals were met. But if not, it’s not a complete failure. What went right? What went wrong? Even in failure, you can learn and ensure you do not repeat the same mistakes next time. Encourage the team to learn from mistakes and improve. As you review goals not achieved, determine whether they should be rolled over into new goals, reframed, or discarded. And then begin again.

So don’t see the year as half-way gone, but rather as six more months in which to achieve your goals and plans. Use this mid-year pause to regroup, reframe, and reevaluate what’s possible through the end of the year. A little progress each day adds up to terrific, measurable results.

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By Kathy Weidner

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