Ending a working relationship



Is this truly what should have happened?

I often wonder how many employers take a resignation at face value and have little or nothing to say to the person that chooses to move on.  Just a “good luck” and “take care of yourself” and the working relationship ends.

These events require a conversation; as it is a learning experience for both the dentist and the team member.  In the case of a talented, long-term employee, is the employer assuming that their once loyal employee is no longer loyal and just allows this abrupt end to happen?  And when notice is given by a tenured, wonderful employee, is there dialog to learn from this experience?  Is an exit interview ever conducted? And if so, is the employee who is moving on sharing the true reason(s) they feel that it is time to do so?  Sometimes the situation is so uncomfortable and awkward that the fear of sharing their concerns is more threatening to them then just saying goodbye.

Speaking to many dental professionals on a regular basis as I do, I can tell you that I believe a lot of these “break-ups” could be easily resolved with a totally different approach. It’s that darn emotional side of us again, and sometimes the hurt is so severe that there are lots of noses being cut off to spite faces.

Be it in-office dynamics, poor communication, a misunderstanding between the two, or simply on frustrations from either side that are never properly resolved, I honestly feel that many employer to employee “disconnects” can be salvaged.  At least an attempt can be made to see if the air can be cleared and differences settled amicably.

Letting things end on a wrong note and for the wrong reasons is detrimental to both the employer AND the employee.  For the employee it is another blemish on their resume, one that’s always difficult to explain and uncomfortable to deal with when asked.  They are both back to starting the arduous process of replacing the missing employee or searching for new employment. It’s about starting the process all over again, moving backwards instead of forwards, which is added time and money for both concerned.

Resignations or dismissals are something we rarely prepare for.  Most of the time I see it as a “knee jerk” reaction from one or the other or both.  A simple and innocent comment such as, “I didn’t like the temporary crown you fabricated for Sally Smith”, said to an assistant as the doctor went busily into another treatment room can be the catalyst for major issues.

Of course the assistant didn’t know how to respond.  It was at the end of the day and everyone was rushed to start their weekend.  The team was running around trying to get everything accomplished, but this assistant couldn’t get the comment out of her mind.  It followed her home, and she heard it resounding  in her head until she shared her frustrations with her husband.  “Dr. Jones said what to you???” barked her husband.  “Are you kidding me?”

By the end of the weekend they were both ruminating over other instances that came to mind over the past 10 years of her employment at the practice.  All were small, insignificant “blips” that would have been nothing had they been properly addressed at the time of the incident, but instead they were ignored until each and every incident became permanently etched in her mind.

There are many other examples of employers “assuming” something occurred that warranted the dismissal of an employee that was definitely something that could have been resolved with one well handled discussion between the two.

And how do I know this? Well, because I have experienced numerous incidents just like these many times over the years.  In some cases I have been able to save things by assisting in setting up conversations so that issues could be resolved, but often I’ve been called when it’s been too late and both have moved on.  More than once I have coached a job candidate in my office who was asking for my help to assist them in finding new employment, but after listening closely and asking some pointed questions I knew they really didn’t want to leave.  Here is a short video that demonstrates this scenario:


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