What do we value? A critical question and a values exercise

Dr. Joel C. Small shares his method of developing a set of core values for team building in the endodontic practice.

Dr. Joel C. Small shares his core values and guiding principles

Those of us who have identified our core values and honor these values in our daily lives understand that they serve us as a vital and perpetual reference point. The same is true for our clinical practices. Once we establish, implement, and honor a set of mutually agreed-upon values, a noticeable transformation begins. We begin to notice changes in our team dynamics. There is a stronger sense of unity as well as more self-accountability and motivation. A different kind of dialogue occurs — one that rejects blame and finger-pointing, adopts a tone of support, and promotes team building. Decision-making becomes much easier because decisions are now referenced against our values, which guide us toward better decisions. We find that there is a noticeable esprit de corps among team members and, with time, they become very protective of the practice environment they have worked so hard to develop.

How to identify your core values

  1. A core value is something I have chosen freely and with consideration for the consequences of my choice.
  2. A core value is something I prize greatly and has a positive influence on my life.
  3. A core value is something I want to publicly affirm.
  4. A core value is something I am willing to act on.
  5. A core value is something I would repeat. If given the circumstances, I would respond in the same way.

Core values are guiding principles around which I will make all my business (and personal) decisions. It is what I view as “right and “true.“

Mutually shared values are also foundational to our practice culture, and it is our unique culture that serves as our brand in the service industry. It is our culture along with the brand that the culture creates that sets us apart and allows us to establish a sustainable competitive advantage in the dental marketplace. Our culture is unique to our practice. It is the only thing that no other practice can copy.

My personal coach once said to me that when we embrace our values, we will never feel lost again. I know this to be true.

Identifying core values: the process

     Identifying shared values as a group exercise need not be complicated, just

thoughtful. I would recommend setting aside at least 2 hours for this exercise. You

can provide your team members with the “extensive“ list of values* and ask them to

pick their top five using the criteria in the “Identifying core values.”* The values list is

only a guide and not intended to limit or exclude other choices.

     Before you meet with the staff, compile a list of everyone’s top five values, and

give the list to each participant. Begin by going around the room asking each person

to discuss his/her chosen values and what each of these values means to him/her.

On the list of values, write a brief (one sentence) definition of the value so everyone

understands and shares the same meaning. You will likely find overlap with chosen

values. Some of the chosen values may be the same, or you may find that two different

values share the same meaning, in which case you can choose which value is most

consistent with the group’s interpretation.

     Once everyone has had a chance to share their list, review the list again as a

group using the criteria in the “Identifying core values“ document. Mark the values

that unanimously meet the group’s evaluation using the requested criteria. Debate is

encouraged and may prove enlightening.

     As the list becomes smaller, you will find that very few values meet everyone’s

needs. Once there is a consensus on three to five values, you have found your

core values.

     As a final sign of solidarity and commitment, go around the table asking for each

person’s verbal assurance that this list represents the guiding values by which the

practice will operate. Finally, it is a good idea to collaborate about how team members

will be accountable for living these values and how these values can be used as a

guideline in decision-making for each team member.

     From this point on, decision-making and performance feedback will be made

with these shared values as guidelines.

To help you begin the process of identifying your practice values, we are providing the above values exercise, which we have our clients perform with their staff.

*The complete list of values is too extensive to include here. If you would like a copy of the list, please contact us at joel@lineof sightcoaching.com.

Dr. Small discusses more about core values in “Become an essentialist to find happiness in your success.” Read it here: https://endopracticeus.com/become-essentialist-find-happiness-success/

Dr. Joel C. Small is a retired clinical endodontist, Board Certified Executive Leadership Coach, entrepreneur, speaker, and the author of Face to Face: A Leadership Guide For Healthcare Professionals and Entrepreneurs. He also holds the designation of Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation. In his coaching practice, Line of Sight Coaching, Dr. Small works with a limited number of motivated healthcare professionals. He received his DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and completed his residency in endodontics at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston, Texas. He received his MBA, with an emphasis in healthcare management, from Texas Tech University. He is a graduate of the University of Texas in Dallas, Jindal School of Management, postgraduate program in executive coaching.

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