Six Ways to Lose Members of Your Dental Staff

Roger Levin, DDS

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When people talk about leadership, they often focus on what should be done to motivate, inspire, and advance other people. This guides us toward being better leaders and encourages loyalty from our staff.

However, certain traits, habits, and behaviors can cause team members to leave the practice. Knowing these behaviors can help us avoid high turnover. Steer clear of the following traits so you can keep your staff happy and focused on practice success.

Inconsistency

People work hard to understand their job and what the practice is trying to achieve. This is how they stay focused and prioritize their daily tasks. When the leader keeps changing the goals or objectives, people get frustrated and confused. They no longer know what they are supposed to be doing on an ongoing basis, which makes them uncomfortable. And people uncomfortable in their jobs feel that they will be singled out for doing a bad job. This causes them to seek out another practice where they can be more successful.

Rigidity and Challenges

As one team member recently revealed about her practice, “It feels like I spend the day walking through molasses.” This is a great visual that describes how many people feel about getting their job done. What are the obstacles? What is in their way? What are the routine challenges? When people have to face obstacles in getting their job done, they feel as if they are running a marathon every day. Eventually they burn out and quit. 

High Overhead and Inefficiency

It’s a common behavior for management such as the doctor or office manager to tell team members to be as efficient as possible but then do not demonstrate the same behavior themselves. They buy things the practice doesn’t need. They spend beyond what is budgeted. They purchase new technology without planning how everyone will learn to use it. This waste of resources also makes people uncomfortable. 

Bad Hiring Practices

Putting team members in the wrong roles is one of the fastest ways to have people resign. The person in the wrong role will not be able to do a good job and will be viewed as not pulling their weight. When other team members see a person put in the wrong role, they believe that more work will fall on their plate because this person isn’t right for the job. A classic example of this is promoting a team member who has no office manager training or experience into the role of office manager, which often destabilizes a team and results in one or more resignations. 

An Unsafe Office Environment

I’m not referring to an environment that is physically unsafe but one where people aren’t allowed to voice their opinion or challenge policies and systems with the goal of helping the practice. In this environment, people feel that if they try to make the practice more successful by speaking up, they will be penalized rather than appreciated. Eventually they will seek offices where they can feel safe in making a contribution. 

Playing Favorites

When people don’t feel that they will ever be one of the favorites and truly appreciated for the work they do, they become jealous of others who are getting recognition. This will cause hurt feelings and fractured team relationships.

Summary

There are many ways to create disharmony and disruption among your dental team. These examples represent some of the most common. All leaders should take a look at them and consider if any of them occur in their offices. If they do, immediate action should be taken to correct the situation.

Every team member should be viewed as an individual who wants to make a valuable contribution to the practice. When you are intentional about nurturing and inspiring people, you’ll avoid significant turnover throughout your career.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com

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