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Four Signs to Know When It's Time to Let Go

  • by Pamela Marzban, DDS, FAGD, LVIF
  • Mar 19, 2018, 09:00 AM

We all know that turnover in the office not only is expensive, but it taxes everyone on the team. Putting time and energy into training team members is forever a work in progress, but it’s even worse when we have to start from the beginning. Regardless of how much we dislike it, turnover is something we all go through — it is a part of business. The strain and anxiety of this process can cause many of us to put off letting go of employees that really don't fit into our practice. We simply don't want to deal with it. So, I ask: What's truly more arduous? Hanging on to the wrong team members and dealing with the deleterious and detrimental ramifications or just recognizing when it's time to let go and move on? Given my experience, I would much rather acknowledge when it's time to move on than let a bad situation fester and potentially degrade my work atmosphere.

If someone is caught stealing or lying, these are obvious indications for termination. However, sometimes the offense is more subtle. As leaders, we must learn to recognize that subtlety because, much like a drop landing in a calm pool of water, it will cause a slow but definite ripple effect.

Here are four indications that it is time to let go of a staff member:

  1. Negative or reactive responses. Whether it's what a person says or through their body language, negative or reactive responses do not belong in the workplace.
  2. Allowing personal problems to affect work relationships. No matter what personal problems people have, they should be left at the door. It's important for staff to be there for one another, but it must be done without people becoming comfortable enough to take out their frustrations on each other. There is a difference between a team being close-knit and one whose members dump emotional weight onto others. We all deserve to work in an atmosphere full of positive energy and proactive attitudes, which creates good synergy for everyone.
  3. Apathy. If each team member truly shares the same mission, that means there is value in what they do, and, with value, comes a sense of passion. Passionate people are not just coming in for a paycheck; they care about what they are doing and are present in their actions. Apathetic people gain their energy by quietly draining the energy from the other wonderful people around them, including you, the leader. Apathy has no place in your practice.
  4. No integrity. I've always believed that integrity defines who we really are. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it — genuinely and honestly. If people can't keep their commitments, and this routinely happens, it’s time for them to go. Keeping employees who lack integrity sets a bad precedent for the rest of the team. It's not acceptable for everyone else to pick up the slack for those who don’t keep their commitments. For the good of your business and your team, you need to know that you can rely on each individual to honor their commitments.

I realize that leaders are not robots; we have hearts. For the sake of your business and your peace of mind, my advice is to remember that it's not personal — it's business. You deserve to work with a team that completely supports you and your mission. This should be a sentiment shared by everyone on the team.

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