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Situational awareness is one of those learned skills we all should be skilled at. You should always be taking stock of your situation and surroundings. Struggling practices always like to blame it on their location, lack of good staff, or the patients themselves. I was speaking to a doctor the other day that averaged 6 months employment for all of his employees, indicating that essentially no one stayed over one year. His assessment of why they have such high staff turnover was that there just weren’t any good employees in his area to be had. I am writing this article for him and every other doctor that just can’t seem to put their finger on the reason it is so hard to keep good employees.

The following five signs that I will share should be exclamation points of why staff leave. If you have more than one of these signs it means that your practice (or any small, consumer oriented business) is a poor place to work.

  1. Turnover is high: As a rule is would say if your employees stay less than a year it should raise a red flag. In addition, if you find the only long-term employee is the doctor’s favorite assistant or some front desk person that has been there 30 years, that’s an important sign that this is not a great place to work.
  2. Staff afraid of the Doctor: Let me make this clear: There is a difference between having a healthy fear of the boss simply because he or she is in charge, and actually being afraid. If employees are clearly worried that any little thing might set the doctor off into a rage, that’s a black mark against that office. Far too many office’s cultures are centered on a “carrot and stick” mentality where rather than creating a team, they have a group of people that just work together. Your goal should be to have a committed team, not just a compliant staff. True commitment results in active engagement and longevity of your staff.
  3. Everyone leaves at exactly quitting time: In an office that has a culture of serving and a vision for their practice for the future, workers arrive early and are not desperate to leave exactly at quitting time. Even in a scenario where employees punch a clock and get paid hourly, if they like the job they don’t make a special effort to be present only the minimum amount of time required. In a happy office, employees don’t drop their pens or stop working in mid-sentence when the clock ticks to the hour that the workday technically ends.
  4. Your team doesn’t socialize: Fulfilled, engaged, happy employees like to talk to each other. Even if work hours are mostly business, an enjoyable office atmosphere will find the staff chatting during breaks or lunch. If employees keep mostly to themselves and barely exchange pleasantries, it’s likely because they don’t enjoy working there. Not everyone needs to be best friends or hang out after work, but an office full of people who treat each other like strangers certainly hints of a bad workplace.
  5. It’s all take and no give: If employees are asked to go above and beyond, but you offer nothing in return, your practice will been perceived as a bad place to work. It’s not a case of direct quid pro quo, but there should be reasonable give and take.

A good leader who creates commitment through a great culture in his or her practice will assemble a great team. When accomplished, the Doctor will experience less stress and the patients will be happier and refer more family and friends. This is how you Summit.

Michael Abernathy, DDS
972-523-4660 cell
[email protected]

PS – On Nov. 3 in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ, a group of like-minded dentists will gather to discuss the future of the profession and how to position yourself and your practice to thrive despite the ever-increasing pressures on private practice from insurance companies and corporate dentistry. (As you should know by now, BEST for Dentistry was founded for this express purpose.)

This meeting is for BEST member dentists, so if you haven’t joined yet (still no cost to join) just click this link:

If you are already a BEST member (THANK YOU!) just click here to register: