Oral Health Group
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Create a Code of Commitments

July 27, 2022
by Judy Kay Mausolf


Photo: iStock

Even the best of us can lose our way in all the noise and hubbub of the day-to-day stresses. Establishing a code of commitments for the practice will help the entire team keep on track – even in stressful situations when the wheels fall off.

A code of commitments is about having a preplanned game plan on how to react. Behaviourally, that means testing decisions and planned reactions for “integrity” that support the core values before implementing them.

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I suggest a team meeting (4 hours minimal) to establish a code of commitments for the practice. Start the meeting by reviewing the practice’s four core values. Owner doctors, you will need to establish these values in order of priority. All owner doctors must support the same four core values. Ask the entire team to share how, when and where they feel the core values are not being supported.

Here are four questions to ask yourself when adding a rule to your code of commitments:

  1. Is it legal?
  2. Is it ethical?
  3. Does it align with the practice core values?
  4. Does it support the team and the patients?

Put the ideas out there where everyone can see – on a white board or smart screen. Discuss the breakdowns that are happening. What current attitudes and behaviours support the core values? What current attitudes and behaviours need changing to support the core values? Don’t just say, “Be more professional” or, “Have a better attitude.” Those words are conceptual instead of measurable. It is important that we can measure our results. A professional or positive attitude are grey words and can mean many different things to people. Be very specific in what it means in words, actions, attitudes, behaviours and energy. For example, professional means we are on time. Or a positive attitude means we smile and greet each other in the morning. You can monitor and measure those outcomes.

It is very important for the leadership team to lead by example on whatever is established as the code of commitments. There can be no double standards; otherwise, there will be negative consequences. As a leader you can do whatever you want – but not without consequences. Everything we do or don’t do as a leader makes a statement.

Here are some examples of code of commitments items:

  • Model the waddle you want to see
  • Set and maintain high standards – no double standards
  • Support a no-gossip culture
  • Communicate openly, honestly and respectfully
  • Treat each other as well as you treat your patients
  • Resolve conflict by going to the source the same day if possible
  • Take ownership, follow through and be accountable for your mistakes
  • Support each other and help each other succeed
  • Hold each other accountable to the practice’s standards for behaviour, communication, attitude and service

Having a code of commitments will empower the entire team to interact with patients and each other with integrity, leaving you with a professional, attentive and positive practice.


About the Author

Judy Kay Mausolf is a speaker, author and dental culture specialist with expertise in helping others get happier and more successful. She coaches dentists and their teams to become better leaders, communicate effectively, work together and deliver service with more focus and passion. She is past President of National Speakers Association (Minnesota Chapter), Director of Sponsoring Partners for the Speaking Consulting Network and a member of the National Speakers Association and Academy of Dental Management Consultants and recognized as a leader in consulting by Dentistry Today. She is author of three books; “TA-DAH”, “Delivering W.O.W. Service”, and “Rise & Shine!”, a contributing author for many dental magazines, and publishes a newsletter entitled “Show Your Shine”. Judy Kay lives in MN with her husband Steve.


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