Good goal-setting practices can set your practice up for success

By Shannon Geis, MA
May 29, 2017
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As medical practices change with the healthcare industry, setting goals is one of the best ways to change behavior, says Katie Lawrence, MHA, CMPE, MGMA member, director, family medicine and primary internal medicine, Greenville Health System, Greenville, S.C. She led a recent MGMA webinar, “Culture Change and Practice Enhancement through Shared, Measurable Goals,” which is now available on demand.

Find the why

Before you start setting goals for your practice or team, Lawrence says you need ask what your motivation for the change is and answer the question of why. “Channel your inner 2-year-old and ask ‘why’ over and over until you get to the real answer,” she explains.

Lawrence says that the “why” should be what guides you throughout your goals. “It becomes your north star,” she says. You should try to tie your “why” into your mission, vision and value statements. This is particularly important, says Lawrence, because “if you roll out a goal without a purpose it feels like a mandate and it won’t work well.” And make sure to share it with your team. “People want to know their purpose,” she explains.

Lawrence is a proponent of the concept of SMART goals: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. She particularly emphasizes the importance of attainable goals. “Don’t stretch people so far out of their comfort zone that they won’t try,” she explains. “If they feel that way about one goal, they might start to feel that way about others,” regardless of whether the goals are attainable.

Engage everyone

If you are trying to decide who should be involved in goal development, Lawrence recommends engaging staff and physicians in the process. “The best way to get buy-in is by being a part of the process,” she says. “Everyone wants to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

To make sure everyone is sharing in the goal process, Lawrence recommends aligning goals throughout the organization, so that everyone is working together. She also advises to cascade goals based on what each person can achieve – make sure individual goals are relevant to the employee’s job. And finally, align incentives to achieve goals, so that staff aren’t working against the overall goals of the organization.

But the process isn’t over once the goals are set, says Lawrence. Make sure to track your goals – they should be measurable – and share that data and progress with the team, she says. And don’t be afraid to invite ideas and modifications as your goals progress.

To learn more about how Lawrence used goals in her own organization, check out her webinar, “Culture Change and Practice Enhancement through Shared, Measurable Goals,” available on demand.

Shannon Geis, MA, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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