How can a culture deck benefit your practice?

Create a culture deck for your practice and make your core values, vision and uniqueness shine, says Barry Oulton.

Create a culture deck for your practice and make your core values, vision and uniqueness shine, says Barry Oulton.

Last month, my article concluded with: ‘Being mission-driven is not just a strategy; it’s a philosophy that sets the stage for long-term success.’ This month I want to discuss a way of building and communicating that philosophy. When coaching my dental practice owners, one of things I help them to develop early on is their culture deck. It is a hugely beneficial document or presentation that adds value to each employee and ultimately every patient. Let’s explore the idea of a culture deck.

What is a culture deck?

A culture deck is a comprehensive document that outlines the core values, mission, vision and unique aspects of your dental practice’s culture. It serves as a guide for both current and future employees, providing insight into the company’s ethos, expectations and overall atmosphere. Essentially, it’s a roadmap for fostering a positive work environment and aligning everyone with the practice’s goals.

Benefits of having a culture deck

There are many advantages to utilising a culture deck in the dental practice, including:

  1. Employee alignment: a culture deck helps align your team members with the values and mission of your practice, ensuring everyone is working towards the same goals
  2. Recruitment and retention: it becomes a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent who resonate with your practice’s culture and values
  3. Enhanced communication: clear communication of expectations and values fosters a more cohesive and productive team environment
  4. Improved patient experience: a strong culture translates into better patient care as employees who feel valued and aligned with the practice’s goals are more likely to deliver exceptional service.

How to produce a culture deck

There are five key considerations to creating a culture deck:

  1. Identify core values: begin by identifying the core values that define your practice. These could include things like integrity, empathy, teamwork and excellence in patient care, for example
  2. Mission and vision: define the mission and vision of your practice. What are your long-term goals and what do you aim to achieve in the dental industry?
  3. Employee involvement: involve your team in the creation process. Conduct workshops or brainstorming sessions to gather input on what they believe should be included in the culture deck. This not only ensures buy-in but also reflects the collective values of your team
  4. Design and content: design the culture deck with engaging visuals and concise content. Use real examples and stories to illustrate how your values are lived out in day-to-day operations
  5. Feedback and iteration: once the initial draft is created, solicit feedback from your team members and make the necessary revisions. The culture deck should be a living document that evolves as your practice grows and changes.

Communicating the culture deck

Next comes how you communicate the culture deck to your team and beyond.

By creating and effectively communicating a culture deck, you’ll not only enhance the work environment within your dental practice but also attract and retain employees who are committed to your vision and values, ultimately leading to greater success and patient satisfaction.

  1. Orientation and onboarding: introduce the culture deck during employee onboarding sessions to familiarise new hires with your practice’s values and expectations from the outset
  2. Regular reviews: schedule regular reviews of the culture deck during team meetings to reinforce its importance and ensure alignment with the practice’s goals
  3. Lead by example: as the practice owner, embody the values outlined in the culture deck. Your actions will speak volumes and set the tone for the entire team
  4. Integration into performance management: incorporate the values outlined in the culture deck into performance evaluations and recognition programmes to reinforce their importance
  5. External communication: showcase your culture deck on your practice’s website and in recruitment materials to attract like-minded individuals who align with your values.

Benefits for team issues and dynamics

For the team, having a culture deck has numerous benefits, such as:

  1. Clarity and alignment: a culture deck provides clarity on the values, expectations and norms of the practice. It ensures that every team member understands what is expected of them and how they should conduct themselves, leading to better alignment within the team
  2. Conflict resolution: when conflicts arise, the culture deck serves as a reference point for resolving them. Team members can refer to the shared values and principles outlined in the deck to find common ground and work towards a resolution
  3. Team cohesion: by fostering a shared sense of purpose and belonging, a culture deck promotes team cohesion. When everyone is working towards the same goals and adhering to the same values, it creates a stronger sense of unity and teamwork
  4. Enhanced communication: the culture deck encourages open and transparent communication among team members. It provides a framework for discussing issues and concerns in a constructive manner, leading to more effective problem-solving and collaboration.

Utilising the culture deck for practice managers

There are also many positives for practice managers:

  1. Setting expectations: practice managers can use the culture deck to set clear expectations for their team members. By referring to the values and norms outlined in the deck, they can articulate what is expected in terms of behaviour, performance and teamwork
  2. Performance management: the culture deck can be integrated into performance management processes. Practice managers can use it as a basis for evaluating team members’ performance and providing feedback. This ensures that performance evaluations are aligned with the practice’s values and objectives
  3. Conflict resolution: when addressing team issues or conflicts, practice managers can leverage the culture deck to facilitate discussions and find solutions. They can remind team members of the shared values and principles they are expected to uphold, helping to resolve conflicts more effectively
  4. Team building: practice managers can use the culture deck as a tool for team building and development. They can organise activities and initiatives that reinforce the practice’s values and promote team cohesion. This could include team-building exercises, training sessions or recognition programmes that celebrate adherence to the culture deck.

Overall, the culture deck serves as a valuable resource for practice managers in managing team issues and dynamics. By leveraging the shared values and principles outlined in the deck, practice managers can promote alignment, cohesion and effective communication within their teams, ultimately leading to a more positive and productive work environment.

This article first appeared in Private Dentistry magazine. To receive a copy, sign up to Dentistry Club.

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