The health of your practice hinges heavily on your ability to build and maintain a productive team. The doctor who figures out how to get employees to work in harmony and be productive will experience less stress, see a higher income, and enjoy dentistry. Non-performing staff are one of the biggest impediments to success and growth. Often, a single difficult employee can completely sabotage and hinder progress, or bring dissension and unhealthy conflict within a practice.
It takes both courage and management skill to deal with a difficult employee. It is never easy to confront an employee with regard to performance issues. Yet, it is a vital management skill that must be acquired and developed in order to build an excellent dental team.
The Price of Abrupt Firings and Constant Turnover
If termination is the main strategy you use every time an employee makes a mistake or does not do something well, it will be difficult to build a practice. Turnover, when done in an abrupt manner, is also extremely costly. Here are some of the major costs to you and your practice from this kind of turnover:
• More time and money to recruit a new employee—your time is wasted in screening and then interviewing prospective candidates. The interviewing process may include a first interview and possibly a second working interview. Your money is spent on advertisements in local newspapers and the internet. Despite all the time and money spent, you have no guarantee that the new employee will be any better than the employee you recently fired.
• Re-training to bring the new employee up to speed--during this transition, even a good new employee is likely to make mistakes which lead to a decline in the number of new patients appointed, scheduling problems, a drop in case acceptance, loss of patients, decreased collections, increase in cost of supplies, and so forth. All of these will decrease your profitability and revenues.
• Damage to morale of the remaining employees—Employees are rarely happy to see other employees terminated. If the reason for the termination is not clear in their minds, this leads to insecurity about their own positions. In addition, once an employee leaves, remaining employees must now pickup the extra workload left by the departed employee.
Possible wrongful termination lawsuit—if the proper documentation is not in place for the termination, the employee may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Increased stress in an already stressful profession—The sum total of all the above problems is increased stress for you in a profession that is already stressful. The daily challenge of dealing with apprehensive patients and the running of a dental practice is more than enough to deal with. Terminating an employee adds to your stress exponentially.
By knowing how to manage employee performance, you could up your production and collections anywhere from $ 40,000 to $ 250,000 annually. That’s for a solo practitioner with 3-6 employees. If you have a larger practice, the gains could be even more significant. And you can do this without spending money on expensive equipment (more debt) or marketing (which is risky) and without increasing your overheads.
Of course, there are situations where termination is the only option. This is covered in a separate article.
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