Published on June 16, 2018
By: Trude Henderson
John McLaughlin defines the phrase organizational culture thus:
A system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that govern how people behave and make sense of their environment. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in an organization, often dictating how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. Every organization develops and maintains a unique culture, which provides guidelines and boundaries for the behavior of the members of the organization.
The dental office environment (which includes the clinical environment) is the single greatest influence on shaping a practice’s culture. Many team members happen to be the same ones that engage the patient at every stage of their treatment.
Simply put: to succeed, practices must carry out every phase of the business very well. The best-run practices tend to have deeply shared values that define their success in concrete terms, for staff and doctors alike. Practice leaders actively hold their employees accountable when they stray from practice standards, while taking steps to encourage team members, in order to reinforce positive behaviors.
In every practice, people are greatly influenced by those who exemplify and model these defined values, regardless of their official title. If the values aren’t specifically defined by practice leaders, staff will do it on their own, often with disastrous results for both the practice and the patient experience.
ToothFairy’s 3-year pilot study found that those practices failing to properly define, communicate and model values functioned poorly because staff wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. This in turn led to many formal and informal procedural inconsistencies that transferred directly to the patient experience leaving much to be desired.
Additional key lessons regarding organizational culture include (these from the South Central Strategic Health Authority):
Read our other articles regarding High Reliability Concepts below:
Ten Steps You Can Take Right Away to Improve the Reliability of Your Dental Practice
High Reliability Concepts: Insights of Value to any organization.
Trude Henderson is the co-founder of ToothFairy, a startup elective dental and medical practice improvement software company which delivers an unparalleled customer experience that inspires delight, loyalty and positive emotional connections to improve the lives of patients and the practices they visit. In 2016, she was the first to introduce High-Reliability Organizational Concepts to the dental industry. For questions, contact her directly at Trude@GetToothFairy.com. Follow Trude on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trudehenderson/ (no email required).
Go to ToothFairy's website: www.ToothFairySoftware.com.
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