The Missing Piece


What happened to the great employee I hired 4 months ago?


So you are a dentist that prides him/herself in utilizing exceptional hiring protocols? You have systems in place, conduct thorough due diligence, dot your I’s and cross your T’s and you still find that the great new team member you hired a few months ago is not the same as when he/she first came on board.

How does this happen when you’ve done everything by the letter? You’ve studied materials from some of the industry greats. You’ve read books on successful hiring techniques. Perhaps you’ve worked with me and applied all the support materials and recommendations I have suggested, and yet the bottom still fell out. What went wrong? You did everything “by the book”!

What happened? You think something must be missing. Well you’re right, there is a piece missing. Yes, you have ignored one important part of the puzzle and it is called maintenance.

This is no different than the maintenance that you give to your patients. Once they are brought back to oral health does it mean your job as their healthcare provider stops? It’s great that your hygienist has successfully taken a patient with advanced periodontal disease to a healthy mouth, but does this mean you forget them? Isn’t maintenance the next step to keeping a healthy, happy patient?

The same goes for employees. For your new hires you give them the tools and the support coming in, but advancements have us making adjustments all the time, not to mention the arrival of new team members which can often alter the landscape of the practice.

When a good working relationship “goes south” after a number of months I have found that the main reason this occurs is that the communication is poor or even worse, it totally stops. We assume that at 2, 3, or 4 months the employee should not need much “tweaking” or “attention”, but this is misguided.

I have been approached by employees with tenures of 5, 10, 15 years or more that came to me because they were contemplating a change. The words I heard often were “taking me for granted” or “I’m just a fixture around here.” I’ve been surprised to also learn that on occasion an employer wouldn’t even include a tenured team member in a team discussion because they assumed that they have been with the practice so long that they would tell me, “hey, she knows more than I do”.

Granted, this can be quite flattering to the long-term employee and surely no harm is meant by the employer. I actually believe they see it as a plus–that this is a very positive, complimentary statement. “You’ve been with the practice so long Suzie, there is no need for me to involve you in these little things.” Well, truthfully, nothing is little when adjustments are to be made or new systems are to be implemented (or someone is requiring some coaching in an area or two).

In closing I want to remind you that every successful relationship, no matter who is involved, is based on continuing and ongoing communication. That is–clear, focused and sincere communication and remembering to never take anyone or anything for granted.

This is what long-standing, successful relationships are built on.


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