Attracting the Candidates You Want to Meet!


Advertising Verbiage Does Make a Difference

A client called me last week in a panic. “Deb”, he said, “I’ve been running an ad for a couple of weeks and we have found that the majority of those who respond don’t fit our needs and the few that seem like possibilities once invited in don’t even show for their interview. Out of the 3 that had some of the qualifications I’ve been looking for, one called hours before their interview was scheduled to inform us that she has accepted another position and the other two just plain didn’t show up, and this was with confirmation calls! I’m so discouraged and can’t figure out what the heck I am doing wrong.”

I began by reviewing the verbiage and approach they used with their advertising,

I said, “Doctor, you need to ask for what it is you are hoping to find”, and with this I proceeded to explain how I craft ads that send the message to those that you are wanting to attract and GRAB.

When I asked him if he could pinpoint what he felt was lacking from the few that did respond he said that none of them were sincere. I would agree 100%, so I suggested that we take things in a new direction.

Here’s the ad I crafted for him:

“Sincerity” is the key word for us when it comes to filling this position. Are you “sincere” about continuing your current experience within the dental field? Do you “sincerely” appreciate making a difference for others? Is your interest in managing your responsibilities a “sincere” one? Is the dental profession one that you are “sincerely” proud to be a part of? Are you “sincerely” interested in learning new systems and perfecting your current skills? If any of this resonates with you and if you come with some significant experience as a *true dental professional*, then we would really like to hear from you. The most important qualities are that you bring:

* A strong desire to contribute to a “sincerely” devoted team

* That you have been responsible for various dental business office duties

* That you pride yourself in your attention to detail and your ability to prioritize as needed

Locating that perfect employee is much like selling a home, it only takes one! Tons of resumes may seem impressive, but what good are they if none of them are appropriate for your practice and requirements?

Sure enough, within the first few hours that the ad ran I received 2 resumes. Both “appeared” (I never use the resume as the beginning and end of all to make that hiring decision) to show me some of what I’ve been hoping to find. They both included cover letters that responded to my ad and were well constructed resumes with what seemed to be valuable backgrounds, but it was still too early to pop the champagne.

I conducted my first phone interview today and was pleased to say that so far all is good. I always ask why the job candidate responded to my ad, it’s interesting what I hear.

Some will say “what did your ad say?” I hear the imaginary alarm go off… Noooo! The ones that remember and share with me why they responded continue to get my attention.

This particular candidate couldn’t wait to share with me before I even asked. “Deb”, she said, “I read your ad and then I read it again and again and couldn’t respond fast enough. You wrote this to find me! I’ve been working in a corporate environment since I moved to town, and although I’ve lasted almost a year, I just know this culture is not for me. I am sincere and I do care so much, yet the style of this practice is holding me back from developing the wonderful relationships that I was able to create and nurture in my other practice. I really could relate to the message you were sending with your advertising.”

It’s early in the process, but so far so good and once again it’s like I always say: “Ask for what you are looking for!”

A Practice That A Practice Should Never Practice


How to weaken a strong team


There are 2 different “so called” business decisions that I am seeing which some doctors have instituted to bring up their bottom line.  You know what a dental team advocate I am and how much I support and stand up for all those dedicated, hardworking dental professionals. So hearing these two methods that some dentists support in an attempt to save money was appalling to me.

  1. The first one is unfortunately something I believe originally became somewhat “fashionable” during the tough times we and other businesses were having in 2008, and for some incredible reason I continue to see this approach maintained.


What I am referencing is sending hygienists home when their schedule appeared light on a particular day.  I can go into how to fix this, but this is not the point I want to make. Hygienists have lots of valuable chores they can attend to during down time, i.e., calling overdue patients, scheduling outstanding care, helping in the business office, etc.


Please don’t ever send them home, since there is so much they can do to contribute to the flow of your day, not to mention what a terrible message this is for team morale.  Your hygienist will stand for this just so long, and before you know it you are seeking a new employee. I don’t have to tell you what this will cost you in the long run.


  1. This one was new for me–one that I’ve only heard about once, yet I just can’t wrap my head around it nor do I believe that this particular doctor really believes that he is actually saving.


In this case, the team is all aware that this practice does not offer anyone any type of time off arrangement.  I’m not saying there is no time off, quite the contrary.  There is actually an open door policy to take off for any reason at any time as long as one key person in the practice is notified by that morning.  Many of you reading this might say “Wow, that’s amazing”. But there’s a catch.


There is absolutely no compensation when you are off for any reason as many times as you need, and there is never a temporary employee to take their place for the day.  Why, you ask?  The doctor feels that he saves anywhere from $160 to $350 per day.


Really doctor?

Here’s what’s lost and it isn’t all money, although everything converts to that:

  • The teams are quickly exhausted. Some so much so that after a while of this they gladly give notice. What kind of a message is this doctor sending to the team members that must carry the day minus one pair of hands?
  • Patients are not getting the same attention.
  • Phone calls are missed, as they may well go into voicemail, and in some cases they never receive a return call for a couple of days due to the catch-up that must take place.
  • Patients have to wait longer for their appointments.
  • Sometimes treatment is cut short and often the work is less than acceptable for obvious reasons.
  • With fewer team members to carry the load it’s not unusual for mistakes to be made, some of which can be major.

So let’s think this over.

It boils down to sacrificing a few hundred for what can be thousands.  Think about the patients that feel this the minute they enter your office. Think about the patients that will walk out the door and seek another practice. What about the team members that must carry the weight for others, and often it’s consistently the same employees who are guilty of taking advantage of this arrangement.

Yup, I’m That Ant


Pushing for Change

Last week I had the opportunity to present to teams and dentists from Northern California.  I’ve spoken to hundreds of teams and doctors over the years and one common thread seems to ring true for all of them.  Once a new concept, format, system or idea is presented, no matter how engaged or excited the group is to hear what it is that you are going to share, the energy and sometimes the laughter begins to subside.

I find this interesting in that the majority of the audience will lean forward in their seats, hanging on every word, and yet when asked, “Do you have any feedback or questions regarding these new ideas?”, they tend to fall silent almost as if they are trying hard to absorb some very new ways of handling some very old routines.

Typically, after my presentation a number of them will approach me privately and ask some additional questions or ask for more information on my topics and subject matter; or in some cases they ask if they can email me or call.  Of course I am always open to share and converse with them if they would rather not address their questions in front of the group, but more and more I’m beginning to understand and realize why it is that they tend to freeze up during my programs (and probably many of yours too); in particular those speakers that are presenting and discussing a major change within the normal day-to-day operations of the average dental practice.

Advancements in technology and science is something that doesn’t seem to intimidate many people, as they are current with all the new state-of-the-art materials and equipment.  It appears to be the changes in systems and protocols that take a little longer for some to buy into and feel comfortable enough to welcome change.

My focus and specialty is team hire, development, integration and maintenance, which from my observations nationwide have not been significantly changed or improved in, well…I’m going to say at least 50 years. So many paradigm shifts need to be made that I believe are urgent for the health of our industry.

My goal is to continue to push my boulder up the hill and encourage doctors and their teams to make adjustments to the archaic procedures used in dental team development.  Change is so overdue in this area, considering that we have progressed and come so far in the technical aspects of our business.

What is amazing to me is that “The Team”–the segment of our business that truly drives the business–continues to be managed with the same minimal systems, void of structure, entering into the hiring process with no plans in place, no clear idea as to exactly the person they are seeking and no idea what or how they will be paid.  I am happy to report that there were many “ah-ha” moments for the group I spoke with last week.  A number of team members and dentists seemed to get it and they were excited and anxious to make the changes!  There are always a number of positive reactions even though I would be elated to receive 100%!

If I can modernize even one of these antiquated methods that have been kicked around for all these years I will be one happy girl!

The “Worker Bees” and the “Slug Muffins”


Celebrating, Supporting and Encouraging Devoted Employees Everywhere

Like so many of my dental peeps, we are in a “social” business and tend to befriend many people in our day-to-day lives.  It isn’t uncommon to find that our most frequent “haunts” are the locales where we build the strongest friendships.  It’s the store clerks, the cashiers, restaurant servers, and let us not forget the barista with whom we tend to create special relationships.  I personally frequent a handful of spots that I return to on a regular basis; so many of the workers know me and I them.

It isn’t unusual for me to observe the work ethic of these people. After all this has been my focus for the past 25 years.  I’m sure many of you do as well, particularly when customer service or professionalism is lacking.  In my case I study this and a lot more.

Over the years I’ve actually recruited a number of great candidates that were not in the dental field–taking them under my wing, grooming and mentoring them, and bringing them on board as “newbies”.  It’s not difficult to identify those employees that are strictly in it for a paycheck and those that take their jobs very seriously no matter what the service is for which they are responsible. Whether they are a bagging groceries, checking our blood pressure or selling us a pair of shoes I so respect those that respect the positions that they hold and consider their jobs important no matter the role.

I was reminded of something today that I’ve actually been aware of for a long time; and that is the “dedicated and responsible” employee seems to get taken advantage of.  A case in point is Stephanie, the barista I see quite often at my local grocery store Starbuck’s. This morning when I went for my usual coffee run I found Stephanie left at her post all alone with a line almost out the door.  “What’s going on? Did someone not show up again today?”  With a big smile on her face she responded, “No, I’m not alone.  The manager left to handle something and I’ve been too busy to find her to help me.”  I told her that I thought that she was an amazing employee. She responded with, “No, not really. I just feel badly for all of you waiting for me to take care of everyone.” I’ve noticed that she is the one that is often left alone.

Stephanie is a true champion and always has a smile on her face and an “I can do it” attitude.  Interestingly enough, when I first met her a couple of years ago, I was curious as to what her goals and aspirations were and I asked her of her future plans.  I found it hard to believe that someone that sharp, professional and well poised was planning on being a barista all her life.  She smiled proudly when I asked her and shared that she is going through her prerequisites at the University of Arizona as she prepares for a career as a physician.

Needless to say, I continue to check in with her whenever I can (whenever she is able to break away from her responsibilities long enough to fill me in periodically).  I know she will do well at the end of her journey and only wish there were more Stephanies out there. For every Stephanie, there are 1,000’s of others that are not only miserable with what they are doing, but they make sure to let you know this simply by their demeanor and body language.

Many of us wonder where the old-fashioned work ethics have gone?  Well, I do believe they are still alive and well, and that there are many more Stephanies working hard and sincerely doing the best they can and do take their jobs seriously.  Watch for them, encourage them, high five them, and let’s get some of the mojo back in the work force!!

The Domino Effect

save2 chain1

How one bad decision can multiply your problems

Ever look at how one simple innocent decision can influence a not-so-pleasant chain of events? Often it is the outcome of wanting to make things easy and less complicated, along with being a kind, caring and trusting employer.

In the business of operating a dental practice while working in close proximity to your employees and fellow co-workers, often decisions are made as though we were interfacing with friends.  Granted, in our business the friendships are quickly developed.  We’re a small group so finding ourselves connected on a personal level is quite common.  There are some wonderful things that we can say about developing relationships like ours that become long lasting friendships (I know because I have made many of my own).  Nonetheless, lots of “fall-out”, as I call it, can result from not managing your practice as the business that it really is.

It can be as innocent as granting an employee time off without confirming that there aren’t any scheduling conflicts to make sure the loss of one person will not affect the efficiency and production for the day.  This doesn’t even take into account the hardships it could create for the team that is left to support the activities of the day.  And what about the lack of attention the patients might experience, or the fact that they can easily see the additional chaos and angst the team will most likely be exhibiting? Will all of your patients get the time that they deserve?

Another example I have experienced is when one of my client does not see the value or need in conducting background checks and drug testing for their employees.  “Oh gee Deb, I trust them, since most of them have been here a while and it’s just another thing that I have to incorporate into my already busy schedule”.

Talk about “fall-out” and what an undetected less-than-honorable employee can cause for the group and your practice!! Some of the most talented, well spoken, gifted dental professionals have been known to fool many sharp and intelligent employers.  The relatively easy process to safeguard future stress and heartache can be handled quite nicely via a number of very reputable and BBB approved websites.

Not only is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure, but once you initiate this as part of your interview process you will efficiently narrow your field of job candidates.  I always encourage sharing this information early during the interview process. This will enable you to eliminate candidates that do not fit your practice requirements prior to moving forward with your systems.  Please do note that you WILL need to retroactively screen all of your current employees once you put this element in play.  Otherwise it could be considered discrimination to the incoming team members who are being asked to comply.

So when you think about cutting corners with systems or protocols to save time and trouble you might want to think again. In some cases it is based on saving money. Really?  Are you aware that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been embezzled from dental practices over the past 20 or so years? Are you thinking that you strive to be more than a great boss and that you also want to be their trusted friend?

Think it over before you react and keep in mind that this is a business first.  Being a warm and caring boss is not a bad thing, but it is easy to slip into complacency if we are not consistently working to maintain professionalism and integrity. The chain reaction that a poor decision can cause will probably not be worth the precious little time and expense that would prevent serious issues.


My Team Member is Nowhere in Sight!


But they CAN be located AND retained

This past Friday I co-presented a seminar to dentists and team members in Las Vegas.   At the end of the presentation a number of attendees came up to chat with both Cyndee and myself. Those of you who are also on the seminar circuit will agree that this is a regular occurrence.

The delightful dentist that approached me had what might be an interesting and unusual question to many of you, but to me I had an answer and a theory right off the top of my head.  His question was, “I have such impressive longevity among my clinical team members (hygiene and clinical assistants) with anywhere from 10-18 years of tenure in my practice and yet the turnover and revolving door that goes on within my business office team is crazy.  I realize it’s because there are just no strong, viable dental business office candidates out there to fill these spots in my particular market. Isn’t this correct, Deb?”

My answer was “No, not really. There are candidates to fill positions everywhere and fortunately your observation isn’t valid. Valuable, capable dental employees are everywhere.  It’s not only a matter of attracting them, but also a lot about recognizing and choosing them. OR you could be making wise choices and perhaps failed to integrate and maintain them successfully.”

I do find that in a given practice, there is often a trend whereby the turnover consistently occurs within the back office team, yet the business office is strong with long-term employees, or just the opposite. This is not based simply on coincidence, market, location or timing and I believe I can offer some guidance as to why this occurs within many dental practices.  There are clear-cut reasons as to why open positions are being filled and then rapidly vacated, resulting in starting the process for team hire once again.

What it boils down to are numerous reasons why this could be an ongoing struggle. Here are some possibilities as I have experienced them with my clients over the years:

  1. Not preparing properly for the hiring process and simply “settling” for an employee
  2. Staying more tuned in to the clinical side of the practice than the business side of the practice (or vice versa)
  3. Not being consistent during the integration of new hires
  4. Neglecting to support new hires as they learn new systems and methods
  5. As the employer, you are much too overly structured and demand unrealistic expectations from team members

There is more to Assessments than Just the Results


There’s even more to learn if you pay close attention

“Personnel Assessments” of all kinds are very much in the forefront today during the hiring process in both large and small companies. They measure everything from IQ to personality to behavior to how well the job candidates will work with others.

Utilizing profiles and assessments can be most beneficial in making the final hiring decision when the results are interpreted properly and understood fully. My questions to those of you that include such measuring tools are:

Do you feel you use these materials properly?


Do you take full advantage of the valuable information that can be extracted from such surveys?

You may be surprised to learn that there could be some additional hidden bits of information that you are missing.

Over the course of many years I have utilized and find great value in behavioral assessments. To me, they are often strong indicators of current and future performance, and can help you either move on with a candidate or choose to not pursue them.

Administering evaluation tools and then compiling and assessing the results are only a small piece of the value that they can deliver. I first developed an interest in such profiles back when I worked as a Practice Advisor, then later during my tenure as owner/developer of a dental placement agency franchise system. Disc Profiles were part of our interview protocols, which we administered to every job candidate that interviewed in each of our agency locations.

They worked well for a time until the pricing began to escalate and I felt that the cost to my franchisees was becoming prohibitive. Subsequently over time I created my own behavioral profile assessment that I call SELF. It has worked very well for me and my clients. It measures similarly to Disc Profiles, yet it “speaks” to the industry of dentistry and is not generic. I administer it via the internet by giving the job candidate an access code along with written directions.

Back in the day when I worked up close and personal with job seekers, I would be sure to make the most of the process and how I observed the applicant as he/she took the assessment. Did they ask additional questions even after I thoroughly explained the process to them? Did their body language indicate stress or show signs of being somewhat uncomfortable or uneasy? Were they fast at completing it or were they slow and methodical?

Today I have successfully managed to place many personnel remotely, and although I continue to administer my SELF Profiles, I have had to be creative with how I observe them as they complete the process. Because I am unable to visibly see them in action, I had to create a way of continuing to monitor this activity.

I call this one of my “check points”, and I have established many that I use throughout the remote hiring process. When it comes to moving them forward and setting them up for the SELF Profile, I will first let them know that I will “verbally” give them the directions over the phone and then as soon as we get off I will “send” them the written directions. Some that take my call are prepared with pad and pen in front of them ready for our phone interview and begin to frantically jot down the directions, even though I assured them I would be emailing them.

How do I know this? Well, I will ask if they are writing it down and many will say “yes”. Some will say “oh, let me get a pen and paper”, and other’s will say “I’m waiting for the directions from you”, still others will say “No, since I’ll remember what you’ve said.” Of course you know that the pro-active job candidate always wins! At least in my eyes this is the case.

I follow this up by asking them to roughly let me know when it will be completed and make note of it. I also ask that they email me that they are complete as soon as they have finished. So here I am in many cases 1,000 miles away from the job candidate, and I have already been able to assess whether they are proactive, if they follow directions, and if they are motivated (some will say “can it wait until next week?”).

Before I’ve even extracted the results, I observe the worthwhile information that I have already discovered.

So to those of you that are utilizing any type of assessment model, give some thought to what you might add to the process that will offer you some additional feedback and by all means, understand the purpose and value in whatever profile you choose to give. Also, keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what this person may or may not have to offer. Don’t ever base the hiring decision solely on an assessment!

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.


Saving a Near Disaster


Taking a Bad Situation and Making it Right

(Lack of Proper Communication can Result in a Major Mistake)

I so often remind my readers that the majority of us who make dentistry their chosen profession are people who are caring, sensitive, giving, and truly do not like change.  With this said, I want to share a story that occurred with one of my newer clients over the past couple of days.

A new specialist has come to me to help her locate an additional business office team member.  The growth of her new practice is a wonderful thing and certainly something we all look forward to.  She has tried to locate the right candidates on her own without success.

As with all of my clients, I analyzed what steps she had taken and the systems that she had been utilizing.  Conducting my due diligence to collect as much information as I can is also critical to receiving a successful outcome.  I have typically used Craig’s List to post all of my advertising for a number of reasons.  For one, I am always “testing” and observing the job seekers that respond to my ads and the format is one that melds nicely with this system.

  • Do they respond with a cover letter?
  • Does it speak directly to my specific ad?
  • Does their resume cover the areas that I am most interested in? (see my post on The Importance of the Resume)
  • Just the fact that there is some leg work necessary as far as going through the process is of great value to me.

My new client asked me if I ever referred to the website.  I had heard about it (as well as many others of a similar nature), but for me, unless I can continue to follow the methodology that has proven successful, I would prefer to craft my unique and specific ads and stay with Craig’s List.  I did go to the site and quickly realized that I would have to eliminate a number of my “checkpoints” if I were to use it.  Clearly, it’s a quick way for many to locate the groups they are hoping to find since it is a template where the applicant basically just fills out an online form, making the search a bit easier for the employer.  It just wasn’t a venue that I felt was at all effective for my specific style of locating the best choices.

While poking around on the site and conducting a search in my client’s zip code area, I suddenly spotted a posting by one of her current long-term employees.  That’s right, it was definitely someone who is still with the practice and has been with her for 5 years.

I knew for sure that my doctor had no idea, and it was my place to let her know what I had discovered.  I can’t even calculate the number of times that I have witnessed these instances when I owned my placement agency. Usually it’s both the dentist and the team member that would call me within minutes of each other.  Due to the nature of the site and the little that I knew about the employee in question, I felt certain that I could uncover what it was all about.  After all, I’ve been here many times in the past.

I knew that if I didn’t address this with my doctor, it would cause more heartache for both of them, so last evening before we left for a dinner date, I wrote her a note making sure I managed the delicateness of the situation.  Not surprisingly, she freaked out! “Deb, I just gave her a raise!  I know she wants to have more responsibility, but I know she just doesn’t have the ability to handle it.  I am so sick over this. Tell me what I should do. Give her more money? Tell her she can be the Office Manager?”

I told her to stay calm so we could discuss the matter.  So I went off to a quiet spot and spend some time talking her off of the ledge while out to dinner with my very patient and understanding husband.

Getting some of the facts enabled me to put this all into a better perspective.  “She’s great with the patients, the parents and all the team members—“a true caregiver” said my client.  “She loves everyone and never complains, so what could I have done?  I even gave her a raise last week”. By this time, my client was in tears.

What I told her to do is to say very little and let her do the talking.  Tell her the truth very briefly and let her know how we stumbled upon her ad and then just listen. I told her that my guess would be that she was simply “testing the waters” since this site was obviously a plug-your-info-in-and-see-what-happens type of program. Perhaps she was hoping someone else would find her and quickly accept her as an Office Manager.  She was “title” motivated and not “money” motivated.  True to form, this is exactly what happened.  It was a bit of the “running away from home” routine where she wanted to be appreciated, and in her mind being appointed as the Manager would do it.

They had a lovely heart-to-heart and the employee admitted that it was a knee-jerk reaction and she knew she could never leave.  She was looking for some support that she is valuable and appreciated and to be appointed “The Manager” would have made her feel special.

So how do we handle this?  She’s a great employee with a long history, but just doesn’t have the skills (in this case it was organization and discipline) to handle what is required in the management role.  My doctor is sure of this after many years in the practice. What we do is to highlight her strengths (high fives article) and let her know how much we appreciate her and her ability to keep her positive attitude during trying situations, along with her true sincere interest in every patient, parent, and team member.  Perhaps assign her to an area where her specific gift can benefit the practice.  One possibility could be involvement in some marketing or perhaps making her the key person to handle various birthday events or even manage the Practice PR.

I’m delighted to report that we do have happy ending here, and both of them have learned from this experience that it is so important to keep the line of healthy communication going and for the doctors/employers to make certain every employee understands that there will always be an open door policy encouraging productive dialog.


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: