Elephant in the Living Room

elephant sabotagegirl

Sabotage in the dental practice?

I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I have been trained in mediation and arbitration techniques.  I felt it would be a helpful skill set for me to have. Working primarily with women in a somewhat close environment, along with all the other dynamics that come with the functionality of the average dental practice, the presence of an objective third party to help resolve conflicts has great value.  Little did I know when I took the course over 20 years ago that it would have such a profound effect in coaching the practices with which I’ve been involved.

During my tenure I have experienced some trying situations; from the team member who physically attacked another team member during their morning huddle, to the front office assistant who carefully and meticulously masterminded a major mistake just to setup her co-worker.

It never ceases to amaze me when I am called in to manage some intricate booby traps or just plain sabotage issues in an attempt to possibly destroy another team member in order to settle some kind of personal vendetta, or to place oneself in a favorable light.

To be sure, these people are not criminals.  They are mothers and wives who love their families, their friends, and often their patients, and wouldn’t hurt a fly.  So where does this sudden surge of negative energy come from?  Why would they take the time to be so malicious and downright cruel? I’ll tell you where I think it all stems from.  It goes right back to that “insecure” and emotional component that I have written about a few times previously.

The nurturing style tends to be prevalent in all of us in the dental profession.  As caregivers we are sensitive, want to be appreciated, and hate to make mistakes or be chastised for errors made. But in some isolated instances these emotions spiral into some outlandish behavior.  Hearing things like “Suzie, you are the best!” or “Mary, what would I do without you, what a wonderful assistant you are” are statements that can really motivate most team members to give their very best. Some require more positive stokes and constant appreciation than others.

Like so many things, there are different degrees.  Granted, there is a lot more that goes into the mind of people that will think to go to remarkable extremes as a method of dealing with their own shortcomings. The examples I’ve mentioned are clearly over the top, but nonetheless I have been privy to many strange scenarios developing from the minds of caring assistants, hygienists and business administrators.

How do we fix this? Honestly, I think in many cases it is well beyond acceptable behavior, and could require professional help.  It still does occur on somewhat innocent levels in cases where a team member simply sees the need to bring up a somewhat innocent mistake made by a fellow team member just so that “they” come up smelling like a rose.

Sounds juvenile doesn’t it?  Well, it is. And much of it can be resolved if we are prepared to do some honest and serious introspection and recognize that some of our behavior is detrimental to both the team and ourselves.

Why so many jobs?



It pays to check out the backstory

“Why has this candidate held so many jobs, Deb”?

This is a question I’ve been asked frequently in the course of my career.  In some cases it could be attributed to the fact that the job candidate relocated numerous times due to the spouse’s need to change locales for business or military reassignments.  Sometimes it was simply that they just couldn’t stay in one place very long, and the need to “change scenery” caused them wanderlust.   Another major reason could be the result of a quick, impulsive hire on the part of both the applicant and the employer without conducting proper due diligence resulting in a poor choice for either or both.

So the transiency revealed on a resume can be attributed to many reasons.  Without researching why this “movement” occurred makes it difficult to know if this person is worth pursuing as a viable team member.

I have alluded in earlier posts to the “emotional” side of the dental professional, and here is yet another example of how our emotions play a big role in the dental business.  Often during the hiring process we think with our heart in a knee jerk fashion and not with our head with logical thinking.  The job seeker is often anxious to start working again, and although they should do their homework and be totally comfortable with everything about the practice (including the responsibilities required of them, the location, practice culture, practice size, compensation ,  etc.) prior to accepting the position, many just jump at the offer to start tomorrow. And so they hastily accept.  Some will sign on the dotted line without having a Skill Assessment (Working Interview) scheduled, and I’ve even heard of some that have agreed to take a position after a 10 minute interview with a practice representative, without even so much as meeting the dentist/owner of the practice.

From the perspective of the employer, I can’t imagine hiring someone to oversee one of the most important facets of running a successful dental practice–utilization of a strong, responsible team, and commit to hiring someone based on not much more than a quick “Hello, how are you?”

With no constructive format or interview structure, no background checks, no time to get to see how this person interacts with current team members or patients AND (worst of all) agrees to a salary that the job seeker “required” or asked for.

Hiring in a non-structured fashion without some significant check and balance methodology can easily result in a major mistake for the job candidate, the employer, or both.  One thing that I see very often resulting from a quick hire is “buyer’s remorse”.  Hiring without conducting a degree of due diligence, and simply assuming that all will go well based on a cursory non-structured interview process will more than likely backfire.

Expecting too much too soon is a very common mistake.  Everyone has a learning curve, and granted, some are shorter than others. Yet if neither of the parties haven’t the patience to wait for things to come together, one of the two will likely cause the business relationship to fail.

So what are we saying when it comes to considering an applicant with a “well traveled” history?

When it relates to the possibility of hiring this person, check closely to see if there are reasonable explanations for the “movement” in their job history.  And for the job seeker, think twice before you jump in with both feet. Conduct your own due diligence so that you are as well informed as possible prior to accepting a position.  I do understand that in many instances a job seeker cannot afford go unemployed for very long, so quickly accepting a job is not unusual, but if this pattern isn’t corrected you will continue to present a resume with short spurts of experience which can cause you to lose the consideration of future perspective employers.

On the flip side, a well traveled job applicant presenting a resume with lots of activity can be a red flag to “stay clear”. This can be a hallmark of a non-compliant employee, perhaps one that misses work way too often, clearly doesn’t carry their weight, tends to be incompatible with other employees, is abrupt with patients and fellow team members, or the biggest failing of all–has embezzled from a past practice.  These are surely applicants that you need to politely “pass” on. Background checks and legally sanctioned reference checking should uncover this.

So to summarize, although a history of job-hopping can often be a warning signal, if an applicant still appears to have value, careful research is critical before taking the plunge.