Me? An Executive?

January 13, 2016


Image courtesy of Stockimages 


Yesterday you couldn’t spell 'executive', now you are one!

Excuse my manipulation of the old joke: ‘Yesterday I couldn't spell engineer. Now I are one.’ I want to highlight that management teams in dental practices work as executives without necessarily realising the accountability it entails. This may apply especially to practice staff who assist the practice manager with tasks such as stock ordering and control but retain their main role (and job title).

When I worked as a practice manager I was always pleased to train staff interested to learn aspects of my role. However, I always spelt out the accountability that went with it and I’ll do the same in this short blog. A similar need for accountability applies to those in management teams.

First, a definition or, rather, two. Accountability and responsibility can get confused. Here, I turn to

The main difference between responsibility and accountability is that responsibility can be shared while accountability cannot. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also ultimately being answerable for your actions. Also, accountability is something you hold a person to only after a task is done or not done. Responsibility can be before and/or after a task.

You may be responsible for maintaining supplies of mouthwash but become accountable (answerable) if supplies run out.

What the GDC and CQC say

In the GDC’s Standards for the Dental Team, accountability is mentioned just once. Standard 6.3.1 states:

You can delegate the responsibility for a task but not the accountability. This means that, although you can ask someone to carry out a task for you, you could still be held accountable if something goes wrong. 

The introduction to the principles in the document makes it clear: ‘You have an individual responsibility to behave professionally and follow these principles at all times.’

The CQC in its Dental Care Provider Handbook takes a different view. The Key line of enquiry (KLOE) for the Well-led question states as an example of what inspectors should see: ‘Staff are supported and managed at all times and are clear about their lines of accountability.’

Creating accountability

Bad news: accountability cannot be bought via the Internet or downloaded as an app. It has to be created. It’s a culture that has to be cultivated. Fortunately, there’s a simple acronym for doing so which I picked up from an article by CJ Goulding (a writer on communication, leadership and other topics):

  • Set expectations
  • Invite commitment
  • Measure progress
  • Provide feedback
  • Link to consequences
  • Evaluate effectiveness

That’s right, the first letters spell SIMPLE. There’s not room here to expand on each statement and in any case, it’s best done as part of a training course group discussion. Which leads me to suggest you look at my list of services: for which I am both responsible and accountable.

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More soon,