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by Jake Keator

The new year brings about renewed optimism for the future of your practice or center. You may have several ideas of new concepts you wish to enact or benchmarks to top, however, without proper planning you may be left at the end of the year wondering why these goals were never achieved. Taking the time to plan out your objectives and properly communicate them to practice or center leadership and employees can create unity and boost morale.

Selecting appropriate goals

The process of selecting goals should be a collaborative one, involving practice or center leadership and employees. Those involved should take considerable time to bring short-, medium-, and long-term objectives to the table.

By laying out these objectives, staff can visualize how short-term goals can lead to the eventual completion of medium-term and long-term goals. While not all goals will lead into one another, identifying tasks can help establish a vision for your location, and help ensure that staff and physician continue to work toward one goal, a highly successful year.

Short-Term Goals

While common practice states that short-term goals can be completed in 2 months or less, timelines can be determined based on your specific situation. Your short-term goals may differ but should be based on immediate need or fast completion. Short-term goals can include gathering needed supplies, updating interior signage, and more.

Medium-Term Goals

Medium-term goals can be built upon one or more short-term goals and may take from 4-6 months. Medium-term goals can include adjusting resource allocation and ensuring proper accreditation for staff.

Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals can be overarching tasks that will take extended time and can be more generalized. Long-term goals can include attracting more patients, reduction of operating cost, improving patient satisfaction scores and more.

S.M.A.R.T Goals

A common goal setting tool is known as S.M.A.R.T goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Below is a breakdown of each of these individual items:

Specific: Making sure your goal is specific will keep everyone on the same page with no room for confusion. Your goal should answer each of the below questions:

What do I want to achieve?

Why is this important?

Who is involved?

Where will this be located?

Which resources or limits on resources will be involved with this goal?

Measurable: Understand how you will measure utilized resources and how you will determine when the goal has been achieved. Think How much, how many, and how when I know when this is done.

Achievable:  As described above, keep your goals within reason. Sometimes taking smaller steps is easier than one giant step and can limit room for error. Take restraints and outside factors into consideration as well, including human and financial capital.

Relevant: Keep in mind how relevant your new goals may be. Opting to spruce up your outside foliage may not be as relevant as obtaining new technology for your business. Think about how your goal will impact your team.

Time Bound: Lastly, a timeline is a great way to remain committed throughout the year. Timelines may not need to be set in stone, but be careful when it comes to pushing back on objectives. Delaying goals too long can lower employee and physician morale and can lessen the experience for patients.

Continued communication

Once you have developed your goals share them with leadership and staff. In larger facilities this may be through email, but a face-to-face meeting can go miles with your team. Use the S.M.A.R.T goal system to properly explain how each goal is obtainable, and the impact it will have on them and/or you patients. As tasks, and eventually goals, are completed, take a moment to celebrate and show thanks to those involved. You can also take this opportunity to redirect resources to other goals and projects.

Review and adapt

Continually reassess the status and progress of your goals throughout the year. If you find yourself significantly behind on a task, think about if your time may be better spent elsewhere, or if resources can be diverted to help accomplish the goal more quickly. A formal review should be set for every three to six months to allow for a total overview of where things stand.

During a busy year setting goals may seem like a waste of time and energy, but in the long run this can lead to improvements and increases in the quality of life for your staff and the quality of care for your patients.

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