How to tell when a Valuable Team Member is Job Hunting

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As a practice owner, you’ve worked hard to get where you are – whether you started a new practice from the ground up, or purchased an existing practice from a retiring dentist. There is no doubt that you value your team members, too. But, just when you think that you have built the best dental team around, your MVP (most valuable player) up and quits on you. When something like this happens, it can leave you blindsided, and scrambling to find a replacement.

Bryant Consultants, a dental practice consulting firm, wants dentists and practice managers to know how to tell when a valuable team member is job hunting. Maybe, just maybe, there might be something you could do to keep your MVP.

First, know that when a team member leaves, there could be personal reasons behind their choice. Maybe they are relocating to a new town. If the team member is a female that is expecting, perhaps she and her spouse have decided that she will not return to the workforce after having the baby. These are some examples of circumstances that are out of your control. But, have you ever heard of the saying that people quit people, not jobs?

All over the country, dental assistants, and hygienists quit their jobs for a higher paying opportunity at another practice. Or, are in search of an office with a better atmosphere. There are many reasons why a team member might quit. Maybe you even have experienced these type of losses yourself. Often, the practicing dentists are the ones left in shock or disbelief when someone quits.

Ideally, you can learn to recognize the signs that a team member is planning to quit and learn ways to retain your valuable team members.

  • You may notice your team member using their phone more often than usual. You might even see them scurrying off to check their notifications. Or, in between patients or during downtime, you might not notice them around because they are off checking their phone.
  • It can be difficult to go on job interviews at another practice while working full-time. Therefore, your team member may ask for time off, like half a day here and there, or a random full day. Take notice if requested days off seem out of the ordinary, or don’t seem to align with vacation or a holiday.
  • If they start requesting to change their arrival or departure time, this could be an indicator that they are going on interviews before or after work.
  • You start noticing friction between certain team members. Or, you actually witness complaining or arguing about one’s job.
  • On the other hand, if the start date of a new job is quickly approaching, you might notice the team member suddenly getting along nicely with everyone, whereas they didn’t do so before.

Signs that an employee is seriously deep into a new job search:

  • They are less concerned about feedback and their 6-month schedule maps for repeat cleaning appointments.
  • They suddenly are going out of their way to be helpful and finishing open projects. They may even start transferring knowledge to another employee. For instance, a front office employee may start sharing their knowledge of insurance billing with another team member that wouldn’t ordinarily perform those duties.

Each person is different, but these signs can certainly shed some light on the subject of a team member that is considering a position elsewhere. As the dentist and practice owner, you should be engaged enough with your team that you would notice these changes that often are subtle.

Strategies to retain your MVP

When it’s about money

You should be monitoring your employee’s performance, and have a benchmark in place to measure that performance. Ensure their outcomes match the patient’s needs, and that compensation is competitive. You can expect a higher turnover rate if you are the lowest paying dentist in your area.

When it’s about their work schedule

When you run a dental practice, you have to have set hours, we get it. But, workers these days need flexibility. Whether you have a family of your own or a tight-knit circle of friends, you understand that there is life outside of work. If you are able, and it makes sense with your staffing needs, try to offer a bit of flexibility in the schedule. Not to seem unfair to everyone else or make it look like you are giving special privilege to just one team member, however. But, if a valuable team member requests to go part-time, consider allowing this flexibility and look into hiring another team member that can fill in when your employee is out of the office.

When it’s about a life event

As we mentioned earlier, these instances often are out of your control. If a team member is moving, choosing to stay home with a new baby, or leaving to take care of a sick family member, there’s just not much you can do about it. These instances are a true test of the type of culture that has cultivated in your practice. It can be difficult for a team member to leave under one of these circumstances. When these instances occur, you might want to offer a part-time schedule or even offer a temporary position.

If you are ever left wondering if a team member has one foot out the door, trust your gut. Don’t just assume that because revenue is strong and patients are happy that all of your team members are in it for the long haul. If the atmosphere in your practice seems to be changing, or something just feel off, trust your intuition.

Bryant Consultants is a small business consulting firm that can help you define your vision, establish goals, and set processes in place to evolve your practice. Contact us by calling (877) 768-4799. 

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