So, how much do your employees really matter anyway?
Many dentists report that managing people and building a team is often one of the most irritating and unloved parts of running a dental business. As an owner/dentist, we dream of a creating a thriving practice full of people we love to work with while doing cases we love to do... all while making great money along the way. My partner and I often retreat to our back office “man cave” in between procedures, to escape the craziness of the day and all the estrogen floating around the practice...we work with all women (like most dentists). And, here is the PROBLEM we face as business owners: we CANNOT DO IT ALONE. Maybe some of us would like to...but we can’t. We need our staff to be our support, eyes and ears and hands and feet. You need an all star crew to make your dental business great...yes, hiring and rehiring new employees will be an “inconvenience” throughout your career. But that’s part of the deal. People relocate, change careers and move on...always commit to finding great people building a great & special work culture. Keep great people at your practice as long as possible. Turn over is inevitable, but a great practice keeps turnover as low as possible.
There is the other problem...one great person is hard to find! And, finding 7 great people is exponentially harder (we have 7 staff members on our team). Bad chemistry, a toxic personality and bad communication and culture can KILL all the great things you’ve got going at your practice and can make your life miserable. So, back to the question: "how much do employees matter”? The answer: VERY VERY MUCH. The Key? Build your crew...and KEEP building and nurturing your it your entire career.
Here are FOUR things I’ve learned so far (during my journey), and a couple things I’ve learned from other dentists, business owners and gurus around the country.
Take your time to hire the RIGHT person for the RIGHT position. Take your time, and if the right choice doesn’t present; hire a temp or make things work until you do. Find the BEST person for your practice...settling for “OK” and the easy choice will not allow you to build and amazing crew easily.
People are not perfect and your business will NEVER be perfect (for long). Don’t chase perfection...and realize that life doesn’t allow perfection to exist for long. Find great people (they will not perfect people). If you get close to comfortable and all figured out in your business...you’ll see that life is likely to throw you a curve ball and reintroduce chaos (like this week when my stellar assistant decided to move back to Ohio to be with family). A little chaos is OK, don’t be afraid of it...work through it and keep on striving toward your goal and mission.
Fire Quickly. If someone does not fit in with you mission, your culture or your crew...they need to go. I’m not saying that everyone that needs a little work should be let go immediately. But, people that don’t have the CHARACTER pieces you need them to have are NOT going to suddenly align with your mission and discover them. It’s NOT your job to change people. If they don’t like their job, don’t believe in you mission and don’t love working with your staff/patients: Fire them sooner than later - you have a responsibility to your staff and business.
Always be hiring. By this I really mean - always be on the lookout for GREAT potential hires. We screen all our hygiene temps and view each of them as potential employee candidates. Network and find the best assistants out there…who is highly regarded coming out of school or an internship? Is there an all star that happens to be in a practice they are unhappy with = potential recruitment opportunity! You may not have an immediate position for them...but it’s a lot easier to constantly be searching for, and building a list of all stars then to frantically interview a couple random candidates that respond to your craigslist add when you’re in an IMMEDIATE need of a new hire. In those cases dentists often settle for what’s available and in front of them...instead of being proactive and identifying the best person for the position.
Please respond with your own stories and lessons learned!
~ Cole Brenny DDS