Dental Practice Management: How to Get a “Trouble Employee” Back on Track

Your team members play a critical role in allowing you to create a highly profitable dental practice. It is your team members that are responsible for executing the systems that keep your practice functioning smoothly, efficiently, and profitably.

But what happens when an employee isn’t performing as well as he or she should be? How can you get him or her “back on track?” Dealing with underperforming employees is challenging for many dentists and practice managers, and so today we are going to examine five key principles to keep in mind during this process.

1) Face the facts. For most dentists, the first instinct is to ignore the problem and hope that it goes away on its own. Confrontation is stressful and can sometimes seem like a waste of time. But trust me when I tell you that the problem will never go away on its own. It will only get worse. The best thing you can do is address it immediately before it becomes a habit.

2) Clearly explain what is wrong and what needs to change. When you sit down to talk with your employee, be as clear as you can be. Explain what the employee is doing wrong and what needs to change. Remind him or her of your expectations. Make sure that when the conversation ends, the employee knows exactly what needs to happen.

3) Provide the employee with the necessary support to improve. Do your best to put employees in position to succeed. Give your employees the necessary support, training, and resources they need to get the job done right. Set them up for success!

4) Monitor the situation and provide regular feedback. Once you’ve had a conversation with your underperforming employee, pay very close attention to the situation. Provide feedback as much as you can, whether that’s positive reinforcement or constructive criticism to get the employee back on track. If your employees feel that you aren’t going to follow up on your instructions and your expectations, they’re not going to change.

5) Don’t hesitate to cut ties if the situation doesn’t improve. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just won’t be able to get the employee to turn the corner and improve his or her performance. In these cases, don’t hesitate to let the employee go. If he or she is showing no commitment and no desire to improve performance today, it’s not going to change tomorrow. Keeping that employee around is a waste of time and resources that you could be spending on the training and development of a replacement. And keeping an underperforming employee around will oftentimes have a bad impact on the morale and the effectiveness of the rest of your team.

Managing underperforming employees is part of running a dental practice. It happens to all of us. When it does, keep these tips in mind and proactively address the problem before it gets worse. Contact me today if you’d like to learn more!


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