10 Steps to take when a Team Member Quits Unexpectedly

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It’s 20 minutes before your day starts and you get a text from a team member that says, “Oh, by the way, I’m not coming back to work, this isn’t the right fit for me, thanks…. (insert team member name).”

What a way to start off the week! Now your blood pressure is soaring, and you have no way of figuring out what to tell the team, what needs to happen, and being a reliable leader all while pulling into the office and getting ready for your morning huddle.

Here are 10 steps to dealing with this type of situation:

  1. Take a Deep Breath and Smile- Remember that was not a sudden decision by that team member. That was a thought-out decision on their part. Nearly 95% of dental team members have to have a job. You are their employer, and if they left you, they have something already in the works. Move on! (You can toil about it as much as you’d like after 5 o’clock today, but for now, put a FREE smile on your face and get your day started).
  2. No Surprises- Meet with your office manager if you have one and inform him/her before you go into the morning huddle on time!!! Management deserves to know first. This is out of respect for the position and trust for him/her to assist in the “Rally of the Team.”
  3. Action Plan- What daily responsibilities did this team member have? Pull your written job description and daily checklist and take to the morning huddle where you will delegate and rally the team.
  4. Inform the Team– Keep it simple and completely professional (no bashing and trashing). You are setting the expectation as a leader here, and they are all watching your behavior. No matter how angry you are; you smile, and you keep it positive because your team feeds off of your behavior… they follow your lead. That ex-employee is still connected to the team and may ask, “What did he/she say to you?” Your response to the team should be that the former team member has moved on to a more suitable position that benefits him/her and their family and that they will be missed. THE END. There is no need to hash out assumptions or past problems that lead up to this at this point.
  5. Today’s Huddle– You have informed the team, and that statement follows up with, “We will have our huddle, then we will review our action plan, so let’s get started!” Huddle On…Business as usual, don’t let this surprise throw off your entire day, or the next, or any day after that. It is your job to keep your team together and focused on the goal.
  6. Divide and Conquer– What’s the plan for today? Ask your office manager if you have one to go through the duties everyone will add to their day to fill in the gap. If you do not have a manager in place, then you will collectively write down what this person did each day and ask the team which tasks they will take on while we are finding her replacement. Your team will rally if you rally! They are always going to look for you in the time of distress and concern… Make sure the schedule is adjusted, not canceled. No matter what, the show must go on!!!
  7. Make today Great– Today must be great no matter how stressed you are about your short handedness. Your team needs to know that the CEO of the company is not shaken, and his/her business is stable. Yep you may miss lunch today, or your team may have to work over, be willing to buy lunch or give a gift card or note of thanks, or heck, a sticky note or text to say thank you goes a long way too.
  8. Spread the Word– Get an ad up on every spot you can (Facebook, Indeed, Dentalpost, Ondiem, Linkin, Zip Recruiter) and ask your team for help to spread the word! Next, ask your dental reps for help to spread the word that you’re hiring! (Don’t be all crazy and do the bashing and trashing thing – keep it professional).
  9. The Show Must Go on– It’s the end of the day, and now you need the interim plan to cover the position until you get it filled. (Most great employees have jobs, so the reality is 2+ weeks before they are able to resign from their current position and start at your practice). This could be two weeks or 12 months, so get an action plan written down that takes into consideration the following:
  • How do I keep the company making money?
  • What are the absolute tasks that need to be covered each day?
  • Can we shift team members around to cover the position?
  • What will prevent us from being successful each day? (Hint: Bad leadership and attitudes will jeopardize your practice’s success)!
  • How can I ensure that the team stays positive? (Hint: Make it fun each day… dig deep here)!
  • You still have bills to pay, patients to care for, insurance to push out, and a rocking team that needs to hear that it’s all going to be just fine because you have a plan.
  1. Phone a Friend– All great CEOs have friends that they lean on to “throw down the bull crap on,” so call that person and dump it all out so you can recover!! You are not alone, and you are not the only one that this has happened to. Everyone can top your story even if you think yours is the worst! Once you have had your pity party moment, pick yourself up, and let’s get things on track again.

The average dental practice goes 2-4 months shorthanded while seeking out the right team member. During this time, you are the deciding vote on how your team will manage through this circumstance. Here are a few things to remember while working shorthanded. You may need to authorize some additional work hours, rotate lunch schedules, build in the budget a few team lunches, gift cards to hand out for exceptional work ethic, create a stress word like “Cotton Candy” that helps the team to know if they say that word to a co-worker or the doctor then it’s informing everyone that they are extremely stressed. This will allow management and you the doctor to evaluate the workload or make a different plan as you are interviewing.

Finally, don’t be in a hurry and hire the wrong person. A warm body in the practice has a much greater effect (negatively) on the team’s attitudes than working shorthanded does. Stick it out with your team, make adjustments, and hire the right fit.

As a business owner, you have to do a lot, but no one can do it all. That’s where Bryant Consultants can be an asset. Our services at Bryant Consultants can help you define your vision, establish goals, and set processes in place to evolve your business. Contact us by calling (877) 768-4799. 

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