How Tesco gets its staff to adopt new protocols

Consider the busy dental practice principal. Daily they flip between being a dentist and running their practice, squeezing both activities in order to get everything done and hoping that their team will support their decisions and assist their aspirations for growth and better profits.

Recently I spent a day with a bespoke client and we were discussing that common phenomenon in a dental practice where the principal asks the team to adopt a new routine (in this case collect patients’ email addresses and mobile phone numbers) only to find that a few short weeks later their team has stopped doing it.

If you ask the team why they’ve stopped doing it their answers range from “I didn’t think it was really necessary” to “I don’t have the time” to “I didn’t think my boss was serious” etc etc.

Joining us in the meeting was my client’s husband who has just left his job as a Tesco distribution manager to help our client manage her growing practice. I asked him, “How does Tesco get its staff to adopt a new practice and then keep them keep doing it?”

Here’s what Tesco does:

  1. When the manager sees the need for a new working practice they summon the appropriate team, explain the need for the new system, train the personnel together in how to do this, then have them (individually) sign a training card (which forms part of their employment file) to confirm that they have understood the basis for the new system, have been trained in how to do it, and that they understand how and when to action it.
  2. If, subsequent to the new system being implemented, the manager discovers that someone is not carrying out the process or not carrying it out as trained, they arrange an individual meeting to discuss the situation. At the meeting the team member is offered further training and following this training they have to sign their training card again to say that they have agreed to carry out the new system and they have been further trained to do this.
  3. They are also told that if they continue to fail to implement the new system they will be asked to attend a further meeting which will be the first step in a disciplinary process which could lead to their dismissal.

It seems to me that dental practices could easily adopt a version of this management system and benefit from the threat of sanctions that such a system inherently relies on. My experience is that principals are pretty good at providing their employees with carrots to incentivise them but they find it much harder to wield the stick when they fail to get compliance. Whereas a corporate such as Tesco has no problem with deploying both!

Principals who want to achieve fantastic customer service know that they are reliant on their team to run their systems and protocols that make up their unique patient journey. They also know that if their staff fail to deliver these systems and protocols then they are simply making up the patient journey as they go and their patients will receive a great or a terrible experience depending on whether their team can be bothered or not!

So, if you are serious about having your team consistently do the right thing, both for your practice and for your patients, you will need both the carrot and the stick.

If you would like some help with taming your team and developing your patient journey, contact me for a chat:


m. 07770 430576

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