I know what you’re thinking. I used to think that way too. It took decades, but I finally figured out why employees are always a bad idea. I am guessing that right now you are going to be a bit confused. Is Mike saying that we shouldn’t hire or even have any employees? The answer is no, “but”. This article will explore the “but”. When we finish, not only will you have a different perspective on the culture or your practice, but a lifetime commitment that will guarantee less stress, longer term staff, and a higher level of commitment from the team members you work with. You will walk away from this article committed to never hiring employees.
During COVID, after, and continuing today, I keep getting calls from offices about their inability to keep or even find staff in this post-apocalyptic dental landscape. Most offices tend to blame it on the government for paying our employees not to work. I would agree. The governments half-hearted, poorly thought through strategy to pay people not to work has actually pushed more and more young people in the direction of big government and socialism. Even more disconcerting is that while this is true, many more of our employees have decided dentistry is not the place they want to continue to spend their work hours. Stress, poor work culture, poor pay, no room for advancement, poor on-boarding and training, and lack of leadership are common complaints from people working in even the most productive offices. Add in generational proclivities of the Millennials and Gen X’s/Y’s and you have a cultural storm in the work place.
Each of these reasons, or from my perspective excuses, have existed since I started practice in the early 70’s. We might have called it something else or blamed it on some other facet, but dentistry and any consumer driven business has experienced these barriers to successful team building. Even though this is nothing new, few have taken the time to analyze and adapt by changing their perspective and actions while building a great team. If that is the case, and I believe it is, we, like those before us, must accept the challenge and adapt to this new dental climate change or perish. Now it’s your turn at bat. So far, the offices that I hear from are behind in the eighth inning, with two outs, and the batter at the plate is looking at two strikes as the confident pitcher winds up to throw you one more curve ball. Today is your opportunity to see the real cause of staff discontent and repeated challenges with team building in your office.
Each of us needs to step back and look at assembling a team in a completely counter-intuitive manner. Obviously, whatever you are doing now is a far cry from actually having a winning strategy. It all starts with accepting that hiring employees is always a bad idea. One of the tenets of the Super General Dental Practice is “Staff Ownership” (Purpose Driven, Doctor Led, Staff Owned). It is the foundational perspective that any time you invite someone to work in your office, you are making a commitment to them as if they were becoming your partner. They will be trained and onboarded as a person whose work ethic and commitment to the process is as strong and engaged as your own should be. Foundationally, the only type of doctor that can pull this off, and they should, is a doctor who is fully committed to a journey of creating the practice they always wanted to have: Fully engaged, committed to continually improving their clinical excellence, leadership abilities, time commitment to the office and the team, and able to model the actions they want to see in the people they work with, their partners.
In this scenario of business excellence, you are not just hiring an assistant, front desk, or hygienist. You are searching and finding the perfect person to not only compliment your vision for that super general dental practice, but also add a dimension where each “partner” compensates for your weaknesses. This type of team, made up of self-motivated, highly trained (you have to do this, they will not show up fully trained), with excellent people skills, has no limitations on taking your practice to the next level. In fact, it is not “your” practice with this type of staff ownership mentality. It is “our” practice. They treat the patients, facility, duties, and commitment as if they were co-owners. Chapter 18 of the Super General Dental Practice goes into great detail as to the structure and construction of this type of office. Simply click here to download your free copy.
If you are following me so far, you should be at the moment of epiphany. That “aha” moment of, “I’m the problem, not the people I hire”. I have just been hiring “employees” and my perspective was to hire people to fill a void or throw money at a problem that only I, the owner and doctor, can address. This is the point where we tip up the mirror and you get to look at yourself more closely. Don’t be that doctor that has a great self-image for no apparent reason. You are the number one reason you do well, and the number one reason you struggle. Embracing this truth is the first step to becoming a great leader. Your challenges, struggles, and stress are all the result of how you see yourself in this practice building formula. Too many approach practice as if they thought they could just do the dentistry and not have to deal with those weird patients and difficult employees. The same doctors believe they can coast through life without accepting that they are getting exactly what they deserve. Everything you do is currently giving you the results you are getting. If you want different results, you have to accept the fact that you are going to have to do almost everything differently. This is the basis for the myth of thinking hiring employees was a good idea.
Just so we are clear. You are the doctor that doesn’t understand that employees are always a bad idea if:
- You hire people that make your life miserable rather than the ideal person who will compliment your vision and compensate for your office’s weaknesses.
- You hire people out of desperation rather than via a systematic, consistent search for only the very best people to partner with.
- You hire someone you cannot let go (fire, terminate, free up their future). You have to accept that on the way to staff ownership, you will make mistakes. The key is to hire slowly, and terminate quickly.
- You hire someone without the input of your team having the final say on bringing someone new on board. I find that team input creates staff ownership and a commitment to make sure that each new hire will succeed with the effort of the entire team. This means no staff turnover, few if any hiring mistakes, and a strong culture of growth and profitability.
- You fail to have a commitment to having the highest paid team based on profit sharing and long-term employment for each and every position in your office.
- You fail to develop a culture of mutual respect and transformational leadership that creates commitment (not just compliance), ownership (not just a job), and a team (not just a group of people) that embraces change while never compromising the core values you have established.
This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS