It’s not Simply Handing over the Keys

The transfer of new team members to a new practice takes some planning

Practices are bought and sold all the time, and we know that anyone who has either been the seller or purchaser can attest to the fact that there is a lot to accomplish to complete the transition. But the area that tends to be the most difficult for both sides in the transfer is the team.

In the best-case scenario, the present team members all stay where they are and basically move on with the new owner/dentist ready to adjust to new systems, materials–just about everything. The vision for the practice will no doubt change as the new owner looks forward to putting his/her own brand on things, and frankly from what I have experienced over the years, most are excited to install their new state of the art “toys” and bring in new methodology, systems and procedures.

While some team members manage well with the change in command, others will choose to leave for numerous reasons. One of the very first things that the current team members begin to worry about almost before anything else is an adjustment in their wages.

“The new young dentist is not going to be able to afford me”, says the hygienist of 20 years.”

“Are we still going to get our medical benefits?”

“Will we now be working on Saturdays and perhaps starting earlier and ending later?”

While all these concerns are very real and many do occur, the only way everyone can move on in the healthiest and most respectful and expeditious manner is for both the outgoing and incoming dentists to agree that they must be totally honest and transparent. As soon as they are able to share the details they must plan to open up to the team.

Nine times out of ten the new incoming dentist prays that the entire team stays together. After all, the patients know them, so it’s a strong piece of congruency. The current employees know the systems, keeping the necessity for training to a minimum, and there is also an element of security there for the new dentist. Not to mention that it will not be necessary to go through the arduous hassle of hiring personnel. A huge load off one’s mind!

While this arrangement is probably ideal for the new dentist, the established team may be thinking differently. Some, upon hearing the news immediately give notice, whereas others will agree to give it some time, while there are others that might announce “unless everything stays exactly the same, I’m out of here”.

While this transfer of ownership/leadership can be stressful, it really doesn’t have to be. The missing link to this situation is that in almost every case the announcement is made to the team with very little information, hardly even eliciting a discussion. There is no dialog as to how things will proceed, but rather just the bare minimum of facts. Very little detail is offered, if any at all. Therefore, the passing of the baton can easily take a miserable tumble.

It doesn’t have to go this way. Why and how you might ask?

It’s once again about communication. As soon as it is feasible, sit the team down with both the incoming and outgoing dentists. The outgoing dentist introduces the new boss, fills everyone in on perhaps how they met and why he/she was the best person (in their mind) to take over the practice. The new dentist then shares his/her vision, how they see things moving forward, what changes will be made, what things may never change and what may totally change down the road.

They will be honest and open and completely transparent about everything from changes in salaries, to days and hours, any cultural changes to the feel of the practice and anything else they may need to know or should ask about.

Once the group is satisfied with the information they have gathered they are then told that they should take a week (or other pre-set time frame) and ask that they think about their positions and whether they want to stay or move on. Be very sincere when you let them know that whatever they decide to do there would be no hard feelings, but that it is best for everyone and the practice to know what the team members are thinking prior to getting totally entrenched within the new practice with the new leader.

Out in the open is the ONLY way to handle this. Everyone can move on in a healthy manner with no hard feelings and mutual respect rather than everyone trying to make things fit.

The outgoing team members can be offered an arrangement whereby they agree to train and possibly their replacement in exchange for giving them some time off to conduct interviews for their new jobs. This is done by agreement, in writing, with clearly defined timelines and specific compensation arrangements.

With it all, we do know that unfortunately there will be those that leave without a smile on their face, which unfortunately can’t be avoided. Better to know now rather than later so that everyone can develop a game plan together, making it a win/win for all.

 

 

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