When is the last time you reviewed your core values? Core values define who you are, who you want to be, and what your company strives for.
Why Core Values Matter
Core values make running a dental practice much easier. They guide you in how you hire, fire, reward, and recognize team members. They also make tough decisions easier because they give you important context within which to make decisions. Additionally, when team members know about your core values, it guides them in many things, including these:
- what they should be doing
- how they should be conducting themselves
- how to interact with other team members
- how to interact with patients
If you have not written core values, take a few minutes to work through this exercise. If you already have core values written, take a few minutes to re-evaluate or update them to make sure you have the strongest set of core values guiding you and your team.
Brainstorming Possible Core Values
Start on a personal level. Think about yourself as a person. What are the ten or so principles you personally live by? It doesn’t matter what they are, just list things that are most important to you. For example:
- How do you want people to perceive you?
- How do you want people to think that you act?
- How do you actually act?
- What do you want people to say about you when you are not around?
Write down everything that comes to mind when thinking of those questions. If it helps, imagine you live in a perfect world in which you can design exactly who you are and how you act. Write down the characteristics you would choose.
Analyzing Your List of Core Values
Take your list of personal core values and think about them in the context of yourself, your team, and your practice. What core values do you want everyone to think about you, your team, and your practice? What values are non-negotiable in your practice? Edit your list with that in mind. Then ask yourself each of the following “yes or no” questions for each value listed. Write down your answers for each value.
- Is the value absolutely necessary to our unique culture?
- Would we want our organization to stand for this core value 100 years from now no matter what changes occur in the world?
- Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if at some point in time it became a competitive disadvantage?
- Would we want our organization to hold this core value even if in some instances the environment penalized us for living this core value?
- Do we believe those who do not hold this core value or those who breach it consistency simply do not belong in our organization?
- Would we personally continue to hold this core value even if we were not rewarded for holding it?
- Would we change jobs before giving up this core value?
- If we awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire for the rest of our life, would we still hold true to this core value?
- If we were to start a brand-new organization, would we build around this core value regardless of the industry?
- Does this value represent the primary behaviors our organization wants to encourage and stand by?
- Is this value one that we will continue under stress, duress, and in the face of all obstacles?
Finalizing Your List of Core Values
Narrow down your core values to the seven to ten most important values. Use your answers to the questions in the last section to guide you. For example, the more you answered yes for a value, the more important it is. Keep only the seven to ten values that are most important on your list. Those will be your revised core values that will lead yourself, your team, and your practice forward.
Communicating Your Core Values With Your Team
Make sure everyone on your team knows your core values. Post them in your office where people can see. Discuss them openly and regularly. Let everyone know why they are so important. Be sure to let them know everyone in the office is expected to act consistently with the core values. Let them know you will be evaluating decisions they make in accordance with the core values, even if the decision goes wrong. For example, let them know whether they acted in accordance with your core values will be something you consider when mistakes happen. When you position this in a positive light and follow through on that promise, you will encourage your team members, and everyone will benefit.
Give your dental practice a core values checkup today.
If you have not set or updated your core values in a while, take a few minutes to update them today. You will come away with a list of seven to ten principles that guide everything you do in your practice.
To learn more about setting core values in your practice, check out the leadership track in Dental Profit Academy.
You can also join my free Dental Marketing and Profits Facebook group, where thousands of dentists and I help each other build better practices.